Argentina and Romania to become members of the Nuclear Energy Agency
On 17 May 2017, upon recommendation of the Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy, the Council of the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) agreed to invite the Argentine Republic and Romania to become full members of the NEA and its Data Bank. These accessions will be formalised with official exchange of letters between each country and OECD Secretary‑General Angel Gurría on 7 June 2017. Both Argentina and Romania have well‑established relations with the NEA. Their accession to the NEA will be mutually beneficial for both countries and the NEA membership in several fields, particularly know‑how and research activities related to pressurised heavy water reactor technology. Read more
NEA Director‑General receives Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award
On 23 May 2017, NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV, was honoured with the 2017 Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award for his outstanding service in developing and guiding the use of nuclear energy and nuclear materials to benefit society. Jointly established in 1972 by the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the Smyth Award is bestowed upon individuals who have made significant contributions towards the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Read more
International workshop launches the NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework
On 11-12 May 2017, the NEA organised the launch of the NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework with a workshop that brought together 50 representatives from 19 member countries. Nuclear skills and education is an increasingly important challenge for NEA member countries, all of whom need to have a new generation of highly-qualified scientists and engineers to ensure the continued safe and efficient use of nuclear technologies for a wide range of industrial, scientific and medical purposes. The NEA has developed the NEST Framework in partnership with its member countries in order to help address gaps in nuclear skills capacity building and knowledge transfer through multinational collaboration. Participants at the workshop discussed national education and training needs, priorities and practices. The workshop concluded with a common understanding on and a shared interest in the NEST Framework. Formal decisions by member countries on the practicalities associated with the framework will follow in the coming months.
Japan State Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Mr Yosuke Takagi visits the NEA
On 4 May 2017, Mr Yosuke Takagi, State Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry and Head of the Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters of Japan met with Dr Daniel Iracane, NEA Deputy Director-General and Chief Nuclear Officer, and Mr Masahiko Fujihara, NEA Deputy Director‑General for Legal Affairs and Strategic Resources, to discuss nuclear decommissioning activities in Japan and around the world. The discussions addressed a wide range of associated issues, including updates on the decommissioning operations at the Fukushima Daiichi site, ongoing international joint activities and global trends in decommissioning. Both parties underlined the importance of strengthening international collaboration in the face of the unprecedented challenges posed at the Fukushima Daiichi site. The NEA has a number of current and proposed post-Fukushima joint projects and activities in the areas of accident analysis, fuel debris characterisation and radioactive waste management. Mr Takagi expressed that Japan would continue to contribute to these projects.
New senior appointment: Tatiana Ivanova, Head of the NEA Division of Nuclear Science
Dr Tatiana Ivanova has been appointed NEA Head of the Division of Nuclear Science. She will lead NEA activities associated with broad areas of nuclear science and technology, and international co-operation. Dr Ivanova has 28 years of experience in both the developmental and safety assessment aspects of nuclear energy, and holds a Doctorate in Physics and Mathematics from the I.I. Leypunsky Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (IPPE). Read more
Safety committee meetings
On 29-30 May 2017, the NEA Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) held its biannual meeting during which its working groups presented updates on their programmes of work and ongoing activities. Among the decisions taken, the CNRA agreed on the formation of the new NEA Working Group on Safety Culture (WGSC), which aims to facilitate an open exchange of information and experiences among regulators in order to improve their safety culture, address their influences and other factors affecting the safety culture of licensees and the wider interconnected system, and consider related implications on regulatory effectiveness. The CNRA also endorsed the transfer of the Digital Instrumentation and Controls Working Group from the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP) to the CNRA. Additionally, the committee approved the release of the first triennial report of the NEA Working Group on Inspection Practices (WGIP) benchmarking on inspection practices, a report on the design review of new reactor application: Volume 5 - "Classification of structures, systems and components", and a survey report on the regulatory practices to assess passive safety systems used in nuclear power plant designs. Other highlights of the meeting included exchanges of information on national regulatory activities in NEA member countries.
The NEA Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) held its biannual meeting on 1‑2 June 2017. As part of its normal programme of work, the committee approved nine reports and eight new tasks. Of particular note were two reports related to accident management – one on the use of accident simulations to improve accident management guidance, and another summarising the current knowledge base on the potential for steam explosions during severe accidents. The committee also approved the formation of a senior expert group to review the research capability required to support safety of nuclear installations and to make recommendations to ensure such capability is available to NEA member countries.
Financing radioactive waste management and decommissioning
On 19 May 2017, the NEA organised a workshop on “Ensuring the Adequacy of Funding Arrangements for Decommissioning, Radioactive Waste Management and Spent-Fuel Disposal”. The workshop kicked off a project of the same name, and was held back-to-back with the annual meeting of the NEA Working Party on Nuclear Energy Economics (WPNE), which is overseeing the project. More than a dozen speakers representing member countries and the industry spoke about the provisions made in their countries to ensure the adequacy of funding arrangements to finance commitments at the back-end of the nuclear value chain. Participating experts discussed asset allocation, financial risk assessment on funding and liability issues, as well as private and public risk-sharing. Consistent with a prior recommendation by the WPNE, they concluded that the project should be restricted, at least in its first phase, to the financing of decommissioning and disposal of high-level waste, in particular spent-fuel, leaving other aspects of waste management aside. This would allow a focus on the optimal accrual and structuring of funds in order to meet the long-term liabilities of nuclear power plants.
Optimisation of the transition from operation to decommissioning
The transition from operation to decommissioning is a critical change for every nuclear facility. Early engagement of stakeholders and clearly-defined transitioning requirements set by the competent authorities can reduce the transition time and efforts, and generate cost savings for decommissioning projects. On 9-11 May, the NEA Task Group on Preparing for Decommissioning during Operation and after Final Shutdown (TGPFD) held a meeting to continue its efforts in identifying such activities and measures to optimise the preparations for decommissioning and dismantling by comparing the experiences of NEA member countries. Observations, good examples and recommendations in the areas of decommissioning planning, regulatory framework and the authorisation process, stakeholder interactions and organisational transition activities will be summarised in a report which is expected to be issued by the end of 2017.
Managing non-nuclear radioactive waste
On 2-4 May 2017, the NEA held a workshop on Management of Non‑nuclear Radioactive Waste to discuss the regulatory and operational aspects of non‑nuclear radioactive waste management, as well as different national approaches. Hosted by the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) Legnaro National Laboratories (LNL), the workshop was attended by more than 100 experts from 31 countries, including 10 non‑member countries. All NEA member countries, including those that do not operate nuclear power plants, must manage radioactive wastes generated by activities unrelated to the production of nuclear energy, including national laboratory and university research activities; used industrial gauges and radiography sources; and wastes from nuclear medicine activities. Participants examined the various challenges of non-nuclear radioactive waste management, including funding issues for small programmes, development and maintenance of technical experience, stakeholder involvement and safety case development and assessment for waste disposal installations. They agreed that the management of non-nuclear radioactive waste poses special challenges for non-nuclear power countries because these countries often lack the waste management infrastructure, funding, and operational and regulatory experience of countries with nuclear power programmes. The discussions underlined the added value of sharing of knowledge and national experiences in managing non-nuclear waste in all its sources and forms. Workshop presentations are available online at oe.cd/1Ot.
International nuclear data evaluation co-operation
The NEA Working Party on International Nuclear Data Evaluation Co-operation (WPEC) held its annual meetings on 15-19 May 2017, bringing together over 70 experts from 14 countries and three international organisations. The working party has nearly completed the definition of a modern database structure providing detailed requirements and initial specifications. Two new groups will undertake efforts to modernise this nuclear data files infrastructure. The working party will also issue an intermediate report on methodology and approaches to provide feedback from nuclear covariance data adjustment. Participants also discussed technical issues related to nuclear data evaluation of 241Am capture cross-sections and neutron thermal scattering kernels. Three other new groups have been established to cover different aspects of nuclear data validation: i) quality assurance of input files for neutronics calculations; ii) nuclear data covariances; and iii) effective use of integral experiments. The Collaborative International Evaluated Library Organisation (CIELO) Pilot Project has made great progress in nuclear data evaluation for six isotopes (1H, 16O, 56Fe, 235, 238U and 239Pu) and will soon be completed. The future of this activity is now being discussed.
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