The Decommissioning & Waste Management (D&WM) programme was launched in 1999. Every four years the European Commission provides an update of the programme progress. To deliver on the D&WM Programme, we at the JRC are supported by a group of independent experts. The quality management system has been certified ISO 9001:2008 by the independent body DNV.
In 1957, the Euratom Treaty tasked the Commission to promote and facilitate nuclear research in EU countries. The treaty also asked the Commission for research and training programmes (article 1). To carry out research and training, the treaty established the Joint Nuclear Research Centre (JNRS). This was the predecessor of today's Joint Research Centre (JRC) (article 8). In the early 1960s the Commission and four EU countries signed agreements for research sites:
- Belgium (Geel),
- Germany (Karlsruhe),
- Italy (Ispra) and
- the Netherlands (Petten).
Some of these sites already had nuclear science and research installations. Over time new facilities were added.
The nuclear research conducted by JRC scientiest used various installations. Since the 1980s, the JRC has reduced the need for nuclear research installations in Ispra. The legislation requires JRC-Ispra to decommission these facilities. This inlcudes to safely manage any existing radioactive waste and nuclear material. These activities are known as "historical liabilities".
The European Commission aims to protect people and the environment from radiological hazard. It also aims to reduce long-term costs of its nuclear facilities. To do this task at the Ispra site, we need to buy or refurbish a waste management plant. We also need to reduce nuclear materials as much as possible. Only then we can decommission facilities and process the related waste. Finally, we need to deal with so-called "future liabilities". Those are activities which involve
- decommissioning nuclear installations still in use,
- including waste management infrastructure, and
- managing the resulting waste.
The D&WM Programme of the Ispra Site aims to eliminate these historical and future liabilities by 2040.