Every country has a national responsibility under the IAEA Joint Convention and, for EU Member States, under the EC Waste Directive, to establish a programme and schedule for the safe management and disposal of radioactive wastes and spent fuel.

The original drivers for founding Members in the ERDO Association and in its predecessors, the ERDO-Working Group and the Arius Association were the benefits that multinational cooperation can bring for countries with limited inventories of radioactive wastes that must be disposed of in deep geological repositories. The potential benefits for any such country actively participating in a Multinational Repository (MNR) project are clear:

  • This activity illustrates that the country, however small its waste inventory, is taking seriously its responsibilities for safe and environmentally sound management of its radioactive wastes
  • Given the economies of scale in repository implementation, the unit costs for disposing of wastes that need to go to deep disposal will lowered
  • For current pre-disposal management of operational radioactive wastes, intensified cooperation with partner countries can lead to technology optimization and cost savings
  • The country will become a co-initiator of an important European collaboration project
  • Countries that are potential hosts for an MNR can expect significant income from its operation
  • Countries that do not become hosts will not have to initiate the challenging societal processes associated with repository siting.

However, the range of potential users of an MNR is wider and the range of nuclear programmes that might benefit from supporting MNR development is wider still, as is illustrated below.

When considering the option of formally becoming a Member of the ERDO Association, however, each country will ask the question: “What specific benefits would ERDO Membership bring to my national radioactive waste management program- and/or my nuclear power programme?”. The answer will differ for different countries, depending on their expected inventory of radioactive wastes, their position on the use of nuclear power, and their interest in providing to other countries nuclear services or facilities.

To examine this in more detail, we consider below different classes of potential ERDO Member countries or Organizations, highlight the specific benefits that ERDO Membership can bring, and illustrate this with examples from the current ERDO Membership and from possible new entrants to the Association.

ERDO Membership can benefit countries that:

  1. have radioactive waste that needs to be safely disposed of but have no nuclear power program and no aspiration to introduce nuclear power
  2. have radioactive waste that needs to be safely disposed of, have no nuclear power program at present but are considering introducing nuclear to their energy mix
  3. have a small number of nuclear power plants, may expand this in future, but will never have a large domestic NPP fleet
  4. operate a relatively large fleet of current generation NPPs and have definitive policy for implementing a national deep geologic repository (DGR)
  5. provide or wish to provide nuclear services or facilities to other countries as a commercial undertaking.