Waste Management Discussion Emphasizes Cooperation

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had agreed to further cooperative efforts with the International Association for Environmentally Safe Disposal of Radioactive Materials (EDRAM) to strengthen and devise solutions for the disposal of high level radioactive waste.

IAEA waste management groupIAEA officials taking part in the discussions included Deputy General Mikhail Chudakov, head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, and Deputy Director Juan Carlos Lentijo, head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, who met with EDRAM officials in Vienna earlier this month.

IAEA said the meeting provided an opportunity to discuss key issues related to implementing comprehensive national waste management strategies, including deep geological disposal for high level waste and spent nuclear reactor fuel.

“These matters are at the heart of the sustainable use of nuclear technologies,” Chudakov said.

The IAEA noted that high level waste had been managed successfully for decades despite the absence of any permanent storage facility for spent fuel. “We at the agency reiterate that the only solution for safe radioactive waste management is disposal, as outlined in the IAEA safety standards,” Lentijo said. “This includes geological disposal,” he said.

Because deep geological sites take decades to develop, the IAEA is currently collecting member states’ experiences and approaches to share the knowledge that could be applicable in other settings.

To support this goal, heads of national organizations representing EDRAM at the meeting, including those from Canada, Finland, France, Germany and Japan, offered to jointly develop strategic disposal strategies. Other initiatives discussed included a project on the development and review of safety cases for both the operational and post-closure phases of deep geological disposal sites.

EDRAM promotes “robust disposal programs.” The association groups the heads of waste management from 11 countries: Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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