Studies on direct disposal of spent fuel started in Germany in 1979. From 1985 to 1995, a research and development (R&D) project was conducted, the objective of which was to develop direct disposal to technical maturity. The main results of this project are presented. As a consequence of this R&D effort, the German Atomic Energy Act was amended in 1994, eliminating the priority of reprocessing and recycling over direct disposal.
The judgment of direct disposal by politicians and the nuclear community was subject to change during the period from 1980 through 1995. While initially technical feasibility was the dominating issue, the picture changed after the Act had been amended. Evidence of guaranteed Entsorgung, meaning all steps at the back end of the fuel cycle and which is provided by foreign reprocessing contracts, turned out to be an important decision criterion.