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Research and development programme (Euratom) on the management and storage of radioactive waste, 1985-1989

Part of the first Framework Programme (1984-1987) under subactivity 5.1: "Nuclear Fission".

The implementation of a Community plan of action (1980-1992) in the field of radioactive waste ensured the continuity of the R&D programmes in this sphere during the plan (Council Resolution of 18 February 1980).

This third programme differed substantially from its predecessors in that it comprised activities related to underground facilities. Most activities involving waste treatment and conditioning had focused on testing and demonstrating processes and techniques in pilot facilities.

Research on the development of geological repositories concentrated on the characterization of potential sites and hot rocks and on the study of phenomena connected with the migration of radionuclides through the geosphere.

Measurement techniques were improved in respect of the characterization of potential sites on land. In-situ data on the rheology of salt was used for the COSA project (Comparison of Rock-Mechanics Computer Codes for Salt). In this four-year project codes and models on the geomechanical behaviour of rock salt were verified and validated.

The MIRAGE project (Migration of Radionuclides in the Geosphere), which was launched by the Commission in 1983 with the aim of providing experimental data and of supporting safety analyses, was continued. The main thrust was on in-situ investigations and on the benchmarking of measurement techniques, concepts and computer codes.

The COCO (Colloids and Complexes) Club assembled research efforts on complexation of radionuclides with natural and man-made organic substances, colloid generation in ground waters and basic retention mechanisms in aquifer systems.

For the long-term prediction of migration processes, advanced groundwater flow and geochemical codes were developed and improved in the CHEMVAL exercise.

A geochemical database was developed for modelling purposes and for the verification and validation of geochemical codes.

Much emphasis was put on the study of naturally occurring analogues of processes which are significant in predicting the long-term behaviour of repositories. In 1985 the Commission took the initiative of establishing an international Natural Analogue Working Group (NAWG).

The PAGIS project for evaluating the safety of disposal systems (Performance Assessment of Geological Isolation System), which was started in 1982, was concluded. The essential aim was to assess the general capability of possible waste disposal systems to confine, or restrict to acceptable levels, the release of radionuclides contained in conditioned high-level radioactive waste after the closure of underground repositories.

In 1986, as a complement to the PAGIS project, the PACOMA project (Performance Assessment of Confinements for MLW and Alpha waste) was launched. The same methodology as in the PAGIS project was used.

The various radioactive waste management schemes from previous programmes were evaluated and optimized.
To perfect at Community level a system for managing and disposing of radioactive waste produced by the nuclear industry, while ensuring the best possible protection of man and the environment, through the joint elaboration of relevant criteria and policies and the construction of underground disposal facilities of a pilot or experimental nature.
- Waste management studies and associated R&D actions:
. System studies;
. Improvement of radioactive waste treatment and conditioning technologies;
. Evaluation of conditional waste and the qualification of engineered barriers;
. Research in support of the development of disposal facilities and shallow burial and geological disposal studies;
. Safety of geological disposal;
. Joint elaboration of radioactive waste management policies;

- Construction and/or operation of underground facilities open to Community joint activities (additional proposals likely):
. Pilot underground facility in the Asse salt mine in the Federal Republic of Germany (HAW project);
. Pilot underground facility in the argillaceous layer located under the Mol nuclear site in Belgium (HADES project);
. Experimental underground facility in France in a geological medium of complementary nature (ATLAS project).
The Commission, assisted by the Management and Coordination Advisory Committee (CGC) on Nuclear fission energy - fuel cycle/processing and storage of waste, was responsible for executing the programme, mainly by means of shared-cost research.

During its second year, the programme was re- examined and the results submitted to the Council and the European Parliament.
An evaluation was carried out by independent experts.