The Programme "Nuclear Waste Management, Safety and Radiation Research"

The research programme is focused on safety issues relating to nuclear waste management, including the long-term safety of final storage repositories and the safety of nuclear power plants. Its two programme topics address the challenges resulting from the changed conditions in Germany. Nuclear Waste Management comprises basic and applied research aimed at creating a scientific basis for safely disposing radioactive waste inside deep geological repositories. This entails the development of tools suitable for proving the (radio-) geochemical long-term safety of the latest speciation methods, as well as the development of new safeguarding technologies. The programme thus aims to contribute (radio-) geochemical expertise to the site selection and characterisation process. Because the safety of a final repository system cannot be proven by technological means alone when it comes to time spans of several hundred thousand years, a solid understanding of how radionuclides behave chemically and physically is of essential importance, as is an understanding of how to quantify these for the assessment of safety levels. The programme is furthermore dedicated to the research of innovative disposal strategies in relation to the shutdown of nuclear plants and existing nuclear waste in Germany. The research activities of the Reactor Safety programme topic comprise not only the operational safety of nuclear power plants but also in-depth examinations of design-basis and beyond-design-basis accidents in nuclear power plants and systems. Lastly, the programme helps to maintain Germany’s nuclear technology expertise, which enables the country to assume a leading role in international nuclear safety organisations and panels, and also to support the planning of emergency safety measures as well as independent assessments for serious reactor accidents similar to the one in Fukushima.

Participating Helmholtz Centres:

Forschungszentrum Jülich
Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

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