Nagra, the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Switzerland, is embarking on a " project of the century " to plan, construct, operate, and ultimately close a deep geological repository for the nation's radioactive waste. The safety of humans and the environment has the highest priority. In order to achieve this goal, extensive geological investigations were conducted to identify the most suitable site in Switzerland. In September 2022, Nagra announced that the Nördlich Lägern siting region best fulfils the criteria of quality, stability, and flexibility.
Currently, Nagra is in the process of preparing the necessary documentation for the general licence applications, which will mark a crucial milestone in the safe disposal of radioactive waste for up to one million years. The general license is the first of several licensing steps to be granted by the Federal Council. The project plan foresees emplacing the waste between 2050 and 2060 at the earliest, with the repository being backfilled and sealed off approximately 100 years later.
Planning for a project of this magnitude and duration presents significant challenges. Nagra has addressed these by developing topical roadmaps, which help to define what knowledge needs to be acquired, when, and at what level of detail. The scope of research topics for this project is vast, ranging from the transport of nuclides to microbiology, geochemistry, spent fuel chemistry, and many others. The overarching goal of this research and development is the optimisation of the disposal programme. The programme focuses now mainly on development and demonstration since fundamental understanding has been developed in the past decades.