For many politicians and members of the public, the very long life of some of the radio-nuclides in radioactive waste is an issue of particular importance in terms of its ultimate disposal. The developing techniques of partitioning (isolating specific radioactive elements) and transmutation (re-irradiating them in order to convert them to shorter-lived or stable elements) hold the promise of eliminating or greatly reducing the long-lived radioactivity, bringing with it other technical benefits.
In France, the 1991 Waste Act required inter alia a research and development programme on partitioning and transmutation, with a milestone for review in 2006. The French authorities requested the OECD/NEA to organise an independent, international peer review of the results of this extensive research and development programme, with a view to help inform the parliamentary decision-making process on the way forward for radioactive waste disposal in France. This report presents the findings from that review, which was conducted by ten of the foremost international experts in the field.