Safety is a key issue for nuclear waste management, not only for the final disposal repository design, but also all along the process that leads to the fabrication of this ultimate waste form, including the safety of the separation processes when implemented through a fuel cycle strategy.
Presently, the European nuclear reactor fleet leads to the annual production of 1800-2000 t/y of spent fuel, containing approximately 20 t of Plutonium, 2,8 t of minor actinides (MA, namely Np, Am, Cm) and 2,5 t of long-lived fission products (LLFPs).
These MA and LLFPs stocks need to be managed in an appropriate way. The spent fuel reprocessing followed by the geological disposal or the direct geological disposal are today the envisaged solutions depending on national fuel cycle options and waste management policies.
Required time scale for the geological disposal exceeds the time of our accumulated technological knowledge and this raises problems of public acceptance. P&T has been pointed out in numerous studies and more recently in the frame of the Generation IV initiative as the strategy that can relax the constraints on the geological disposal, and reduce the monitoring period to technological and manageable time scales, whatever in the case of nuclear industry development or phase-out of nuclear. If scientific and technical solutions are now available, their safety has to be assessed to allow their development at a higher scale.
SACSESS will contribute to address these key issues at a high level and will help Europe to hold a top level position in this domain.
Moreover, beyond sharing national experience, it is essential for Europe actively to participate in longer term international efforts to prepare the future in order to perpetuate competences in the field of actinide sciences, chemical separation and fuel fabrication processes in order to be able to ensure the safety of the chemical processes developed.
With its extensive and encompassing research program, SACSESS will have industrial impact by assessing the chemical safety of advanced processes and by developing methods for carrying safety case reviews of these processes, it will provide tools to be used by the industrial to answer regulatory bodies and safety authorities on sound technical and scientific basis.