Policymakers from fifteen countries met NEA in Paris

Policymakers from fifteen countries met in Paris on 14 October 2019 to discuss the role of government in international co‑operation on advancing the development of national radioactive waste disposal programmes. The first Roundtable for International Co‑operation in Final Disposal of High‑level Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel was jointly organised by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) of Japan, and the United States Department of Energy (US DOE).

It is essential that countries continue to safely store their inventories of spent nuclear fuel and high‑level radioactive waste (HLW) and proceed to develop and implement final disposal solutions. After decades of research, the international scientific community is confident that geological disposal is a safe and effective long‑term solution.

The objective of this roundtable discussion was to strengthen international co‑operation among countries and to advance development of final disposal solutions for radioactive waste and spent fuel. The roundtable served to facilitate an exchange of experience and knowledge in developing and implementing final disposal policies for radioactive waste and spent fuel, as well as potential bi- or multi‑lateral collaborations among interested countries.

Opening remarks were delivered by Tomhiro Kaneko, Deputy Commissioner of ANRE/METI, Dr Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy at US DOE, and William D. Magwood, IV, Director‑General of the Nuclear Energy Agency. Participants discussed opportunities for international co‑operation on sharing final disposal programme knowledge and experience, stakeholder engagement and public confidence, and research and development in the field.

During his opening remarks, Director‑General Magwood noted that international co‑operation can help achieve national solutions through the exchange of information and co‑ordination of policies, and by developing a consensus on international standards. "There have been intensive technical and scientific collaborations over the years," he said. "However, international dialogues at the strategic and policy levels can help further facilitate the exchange of existing approaches, both in the implementation of the HLW management policies, programmes and in regulatory oversight."

A summary report of the roundtable and its key outcomes is currently in preparation and will demonstrate best practices and strategic government policies for advancing national radioactive waste disposal solutions. The second roundtable discussion is planned for 2020.

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