Brussels, 30 Oct 2002
The European Commission launched a project to create a network of major radioactive waste management organisations across Europe on 29 October.
The project aims to strengthen cooperation on research on the disposal of radioactive waste and sees seven EU Member States (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and Switzerland working collaboratively in the Net.Excel network.
Participants will work towards enhancing the quality of research, and will be able to make more efficient and coordinated decisions in the field of radioactive waste management. Sharing research in underground laboratories in Europe will be an important component in the project. The network will strengthen EU competence in dealing with the disposal of spent fuel or high level radioactive waste.
'This is a key step to develop a better system for the disposal of nuclear fuel,' said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. 'Good progress in this field has already been achieved, but greater cooperation is necessary. This is an example of how EU research programmes can pool key resources and help achieve critical mass at European level. Within this network, excellence at national level is converted into added value for all those involved, with the Commission acting as a catalyst to help coordinate Member States' activities. Networking excellence is in line with the principles and priorities of EU research programmes and, more broadly, with the idea of the European Research Area, a true internal market for science and knowledge.'
Spent nuclear fuel and high level waste will be disposed of deep underground with the correct approach being determined by the geological conditions in different countries, the presence of clay, crystalline rocks or salt. Despite this room for diversity, there are still many activities of common interest for Member States. Closer cooperation in this field will advance nuclear waste management research, and ensure a more effective overall approach. The Net.Excel network will eventually expand to other international partners.
To date there is no facility for the geological disposal of spent fuel or high radioactive waste. The Commission Green Paper 'Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply', presented in 2001, highlights the need to address radioactive waste management. This important issue is a priority of the Sixth Euratom nuclear research programme (2003-2006).
For further information on EU nuclear research and Euratom, please visit: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/energ y/fi/fi_en.html