Brussels, 09 Dec 2003
Proposal for a
on adopting a supplementary research programme To be implemented by the Joint Research Centre for the European Atomic Energy Community
1. On 24 January 2000, the Council adopted a four-years supplementary research programme to be implemented by the Joint Research Centre for the European Atomic Energy Community (2000-2003) concerning the operation of the High Flux Reactor (HFR) of Petten. This programme is therefore due to expire on 31 December 2003.
2. The present communication presents a new three-year programme (2004 - 2006).
3. Euratom and the Netherlands concluded an agreement concerning the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten on 25 July 1961 for a period of 99 years. In order to execute it, the two parties concluded a long lease for 99 years conferring a right in rem (bail emphytéotique) on 31 October 1962.
4. HFR plays an important role, in the European Union, in support to safe nuclear technologies, in materials research for thermonuclear fusion, in fundamental research and in medical research and applications.
HFR is very active in the improvement of the safety of the existing reactors. HFR contributes to the following programmes: reactors' ageing and life management, transmutation of nuclear waste in view of a better safety of waste storage, improvement of the fuel safety. Fuel containing plutonium (Mixed oxides of U and Pu and high temperature reactor fuel) are studied in view of the elimination of military grade plutonium.
HFR is also used by an association of European centres working on a new treatment for encephalic cancers by using the BNCT (Boron Neutron Capture Therapy) techniques. The HFR reactor also supports other medical research, like production of new type of isotopes and development of other technical BNCT-applications like for melanoma and other pathologies.
In the frame of thermonuclear fusion, several projects have been undertaken at the HFR to test structural and breeding materials for future fusion reactors. The emphasis on materials development lies with low activation properties obtained at higher temperatures as these promote both the environmental and thermal efficiency of the future fusion power plants. These experiments support the European Long-term Fusion Materials Development Programme.
Fundamental research makes use of neutron beams for the study of the material's-structure. This activity is under permanent development and contributes to the understanding of degradation mechanisms and their mitigation relevant to the safety of existing plants. Methods under study are non-destructive evaluation techniques using neutron beams and neutron properties. The co-ordination of efforts, dissemination of results and support to harmonisation are carried out through a European network.
The reactor also produces isotopes necessary for more than 60% of the 10 million of medical diagnoses executed each year in Europe. Its qualities and reliability make it an important device for all the European pharmaceutical companies in this field. Moreover, through its location in Europe, the reactor's production is rapidly directed to the European medical centres. This is essential for the most currently used short-life isotopes and is crucial for Europe's autonomy of supply.
The HFR is also a training facility hosting doctoral and post doctoral students, as well as post doctoral fellows performing their research activities through national or European Programme.