Geological disposal is an essential component of the long-term management of spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Implementation of a suitable deep repository may, however, be difficult or impossible in some (especially small) countries because of challenging geological conditions or restricted siting options, or because of the high costs involved. For these countries, shared regional or international storage and disposal facilities are a necessity. The European Parliament and the EC have both expressed support for concepts that could lead to regional shared facilities being implemented in the EU. The EC, therefore, funded two projects that form the first two steps of a staged process towards the implementation of shared regional or international storage and disposal facilities. In the period 2003 to 2005, the EC funded SAPIERR I, a project devoted to pilot studies on the feasibility of shared regional storage facilities and geological repositories, for use by European countries. The studies showed that shared regional repositories are feasible, but also that, if they are to be implemented, even some decades ahead, efforts must already be increased now. The first step would be to establish a structured framework for the work on regional repositories. This is the goal of SAPIERR II (2006–2008): to develop possible practical implementation strategies and organisational structures. These will enable a formalised, structured European Development Organisation (EDO) to be established in 2008 or afterwards for working on shared EU radioactive waste storage and disposal activities. The EDO can work in parallel with national waste programmes. Participating EU Member States will be able to use the structures developed as, when and if needed for the furtherance of their individual national policies.

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