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European Joint Programme on Radioactive Waste Management

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - EURAD (European Joint Programme on Radioactive Waste Management)

Reporting period: 2022-06-01 to 2023-05-31

The aim is to implement a joint Strategic Programme of research and knowledge management activities at the European level, bringing together and complementing EU Member State programmes in order to ensure cutting-edge knowledge creation and preservation in view of delivering safe, sustainable and publicly acceptable solutions for the management of radioactive waste across Europe now and in the future. EURAD coordinates activities on agreed priorities of common interest between European Waste, Management Organisations, Technical Support Organisations and Research Entities.

EURAD will generate and manage knowledge to support EU Member States with their implementation of the Directive 2011/70/Euratom, taking into account the different magnitudes and stages of advancement of Member State National Programmes.

From this, these high-level objectives, EURAD has established the following specific objectives:
- Develop, maintain and consolidate the scientific and technical basis of safe radioactive waste management;
- Address important and complex issues and enable expert networking;
- Enhance knowledge management and transfer between organisations, Member-States and generations;
- Engage with Civil Society.
The fourth year of EURAD started with the holding of EURADWASTE Conference. A specific workshop on the evaluation of EURAD was organized in the opening of the Conference. It was the occasion to discuss the main achievements of the programme and to reflect on the strengths, risks and opportunities of the programme and to start the discussion on the look forward.

One of the main realisation at the programme level, was the publication of the updated Strategic Research Agenda. This exercise was a major challenge for EURAD Bureau and Colleges. It was most probably the most intense joint programming of EURAD, as it required a delicate consensus on the strategic needs of the actors for the future, including the identification of joint drivers behind these needs, respecting the EURAD Vision and Roadmap, and considering the advancement of waste management programmes in Member States. The SRA aims to present a holistic, integrated view on identified needs of common interest that may require research, development and demonstration (RD&D), strategic studies (think tank), and/or knowledge management activities along the whole chain of radioactive waste management, from cradle to grave.

All R&D and Strategic Studies work packages have made large effort to catch up delays in the production of deliverables and milestones. The work is progressing well in all of them. R&D work packages engaged the last experiments and are producing results when Strategic Studies work packages provided their recommendations in terms of future R&D needs. Each work package also largely contributed to the dissemination of EURAD output. This can be noticed through the increasing number of scientific publications (185) and presentations during conferences or workshops (377).

The Knowledge Management work packages are now at their full speed, and this can be noticed for instance by the increase of documents produced and trainings and workshops organised. The production of Domain Insights to populate the Roadmap is progressing with, by the end of April 2023, 48 Domain Insights which were either published or in production. The mobility programme has also largely progressed with no less than 43 actions approved since the start of the programme. Some new activities were also launched, like organization of requirements management workshops for the work package on guidance and the preparation of a summer school on Waste Acceptance Criteria for the workpackage Training and Mobility.

On a strategic level, the call for proposals for the use of the reserve budget was launched during Year 4. With this reserve budget, 6 proposals of complementary activities to WPs are able to be financed, together with an increase of budget for all WP boards. Potential collaboration with international organisations and entities continued during Year 4, with regular meetings with IAEA and NEA and some presentations at international conferences to foster future collaboration with international partners. The strong cooperation with PREDIS project also continued with the publication of joint paper and the organization of the future summer school on WAC.

Finally, the dissemination is still a major focus towards the end of the programme. The success of the Lunch-and-learn was confirmed with an increase in the number of participants. The organisation of the third annual event of the programme, which gathered more than 190 participants (+110 online attendees) over 3 days, was also a major highlight of the Year 4 and a real success. The event provided a platform for interaction and networking opportunities. It also allowed to share results from the different work packages and triggered new ideas for future work and demonstrated the benefits of joint programming.
EURAD will generate and manage knowledge to support EU Member-States with the Directive 2011/70/Euratom, and more specifically with the development and implementation of their national RD&D programmes for the safe long-term management of their full range of different types of radioactive waste.
More specifically, EURAD will:
- Support compliance with European regulations – by supporting Member-States in implementing RD&D, developing skills and providing for transparency in order to develop solutions for their radioactive waste
- Support passive safety of radioactive waste – by contributing to the responsible and safe management of radioactive waste in Europe,
- Help to gain or maintain public confidence and awareness in radioactive waste management - by fostering transparency, credibility and scientific excellence;
- Support radioactive waste management innovation and optimisation – by supporting the development of solutions for different waste streams and types and continuously improving and optimising waste management routes and disposal solutions,
- Contribute to addressing scientific/technical challenges and evolving regulatory concerns – by prioritising activities of high common interest, and creating conditions for cross fertilization, interaction and mutual understanding between different Joint Programme contributors and participants;
- Enhance knowledge transfer to early stage programmes – by providing an opportunity for less advanced programmes, to benefit from the cross-European integration in radioactive waste management;
- Foster efficient use of the RD&D resources at the EU level - by sharing and advancing existing knowledge, facilities and infrastructure rather than repeating and duplicating efforts; and
- Foster a better transfer of knowledge across generations of experts – by helping to bridge the risk of shortage of the skilled, multidisciplinary human resources and critical infrastructure needed to develop, assess, license and operate RWM facilities, in view of the long lead-times and the intergenerational operational time-spans.