Research in the field of aged materials harvested from decommissioned nuclear power plants can provide nuclear industry plant operators and national nuclear safety regulators with an improved understanding of the ageing mechanisms of these materials. This understanding can then support the management of plant ageing, the implementation of life extension programmes and serve as an input to operating licence renewals.
In this context, the Second Workshop on International Harvesting Co-operation was an occasion to review the status of aged metals harvesting and to discuss priorities and opportunities for international collaborative research in this field. During the workshop, held on 17 November 2022 in Stockholm, Sweden, participating experts noted that current decommissioning of nuclear power plants in a number of countries presents new opportunities for harvesting aged metals. Participants noted that recently shut down plants offer rich possibilities for the harvesting of ‘real’ aged material and the key role of utility companies in such harvesting activities.
Collaborative research on these materials, as more investment is directed towards the development of research techniques in the field and dedicated facilities for harvested aged materials are set up, is also becoming possible. The NEA Studsvik Material Integrity Life Extension (SMILE) joint project conducted by Studsvik Nuclear AB, with the support of Swedish utilities companies, was cited as one such successful collaborative venture in the field.
The workshop, which gathered 40 experts from 26 organisations in 15 countries, was co-organised by the NEA and the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC).