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Towards a Joint Programming on Radioactive Waste Disposal

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - JOPRAD (Towards a Joint Programming on Radioactive Waste Disposal)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-11-30

For more than 40 years, considerable scientific and technical knowledge has been acquired in Europe in the field of radioactive waste management (RWM), and especially geological disposal . RD&D efforts in radioactive waste management and disposal will continue to be necessary to:
•maintain and increase knowledge throughout the stepwise development, operation and closure of disposal facilities, which will be spread over many decades;
•ensure optimization of waste management routes and of disposal solutions;
•address evolving regulatory concerns;
•bridge the risk of shortage of the skilled, multidisciplinary human resources needed to develop, assess, license and operate radioactive waste management and disposal facilities;
•o help gaining or to maintain public confidence.
The European Commission has considerably supported the acquisition of knowledge at European level by supporting collaborative RD&D projects through the EURATOM programme on radioactive waste management. More recently, EC has also enhanced coordination and networking activities by supporting the establishment of the IGD-TP platform and the SITEX network.

Today, EC promotes a leap forward in pan-European research cooperation between EU Member States’ national programmes by promoting the setting-up of inclusive research and innovation joint programmes in Europe, attracting and pooling a critical mass of national resources on specific objectives and challenges. The objective for EC is therefore to promote and co-fund ambitious programmes rather than individual projects, bringing together those legal entities from EU Member-States or associated countries able to direct national funding and/or manage a national research and innovation programme.

The JOPRAD project has been launched in June 2015 with the objectives to assess if the RWM community could be integrated in a Joint Programme and to prepare the establishment of such a Joint Programme.

The ultimate goal of JOPRAD was to develop synergies and increase coordination of national research Programmes in the field of RWM in order to prepare the setting up of a EJP.

Such a EJP would bring together at the European level, those aspects of R&D activities implemented within national research programmes where synergy from Joint Programming is identified. The aspects of R&D activities brought together concern geological disposal of spent fuel and other high activity long lived radioactive waste, including waste management aspects linked with their disposal and accompanying key activities (Education and Training, as well as Knowledge Management).

The added value of the JOPRAD project is that it (i) has enabled “programme owners” and “programme managers” in the Member States to determine on a qualified basis to which extent the benefits from joining efforts in Joint Programme will outweigh potential drawbacks, and if Joint Programme is implemented (ii) cross-European joint R&D carried by all key actors with all the benefits in effective use of resources, high-quality top R&D results, and in particular broad acceptance of the scientific-technical basis for implementing Geological Disposal.
Considering the central role of the governmental body to implement the Council Directive (2011/70/Euratom) in their respective countries, the first step (Work Package 2) was, in collaboration with EC, to engage in discussion with Member States representatives in order to clarify the organisation of their national R&D consistent with the implementation of the Council Directive.

The second step (Work Packages 3) was to identify existing (or developing) research programmes or research agendas that could contribute to the identification of common scientific objectives and activities as well as specific aspects that the “mandated actors” would like to develop in the Joint Programme.

The third step (Work Package 4) consisted of developing the joint “Programme Document”, as the technical background of the Joint Programme. The “Programme Document” comprises programmes focused on key priorities of WMOs, TSOs, and of other public programmes led by Research Entities whose priorities according to a national context may not be oriented towards immediate implementation but of longer term perspective beyond 2025 (referring to the IGD-TP’s SRA).

In order to prepare the implementation of this Joint Programme, the last step (Work Package 5) consisted of elaborating the governance of the JP (chosen cofund scheme, rules for participation, governance bodies, decision-making process, funding stream). The governance shall reflect expectations of different actors, while taking into account the expectations of the Civil Society; the balance between the mandated actors’ needs within the JP should be consistent with the efforts provided by the participants.
The following impacts were identified before JOPRAD starts, and are still relevant:
• Further integrate the interested research community ;
• Hence help to maintain and develop the EU leadership in knowledge and expertise for innovative radioactive waste management solutions that effectively matches public expectations;
• Further reinforce and make the interaction at EU level between WMOs, TSOs, industry, policy makers and the research community more effective, which is of particular importance for implementing solutions for radioactive waste management, including geological disposal;
• Build/increase competence and disseminate knowledge efficiently and provide guidance to planning and optimising less advanced disposal programmes;
• Increase competence of all actors and the increase of knowledge and overall level of competence is expected to lead to technological improvements;
• Involve stakeholders in the definition of research key objectives and in the decision-making processes.

By identifying the RD&D actors in the field of RWM – WMOs, TSOs, REs - and engaging them in the process of developing a shared Vision and Strategic Research Agenda, and by actively engaging Civil Society Stakeholders, JOPRAD has demonstrated the feasibility of creating such a Joint Programme in the field of RWM.
Based on this positive achievement, EC confirmed its willingness to co-fund such a Joint Programme and a dedicated topic is included in the EURATOM WP2018 call that has been published one month before the end of JOPRAD, in October 2017 (indicative EC available budget for 5 years: 28-32,5M€).
The outputs of the work carried out within WP5 constitute the necessary founding basis, developed up to an advanced status of readiness for use for the Mandated Actors, for the implementation and functioning of a European Joint research Programme in radioactive waste management including disposal.
More specifically JOPRAD paved the way for the main Joint Programme founding documents that are JP, Vision, SRA, Roadmap and Governance and implementation mechanisms