Canada joins extension of the GIF Framework Agreement
On 21 October 2016, Canada signed and deposited its instrument of acceptance for the ten-year extension of the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems. A ceremony was held at the OECD Château which included the Honourable Michelle d'Auray, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the OECD, and Mr William D. Magwood, IV, NEA Director‑General. The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) is a co‑operative international endeavour which was established to carry out the research and development needed to establish the feasibility and performance capabilities of the next generation of nuclear energy systems. For more information on GIF, see www.gen-4.org.
Addressing challenges and opportunities with deploying nuclear energy in Latin America
On 25-26 October 2016, the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) held the "Latin American Nuclear Energy Stakeholders Conference" in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference focused on the challenges and opportunities facing countries within Latin America that are either considering or planning to deploy new nuclear power generation capacity. Keynote presentations were provided by the Argentine Minister of Energy and Mining Juan José Aranguren, the Undersecretary of Nuclear Energy Julián Gadano and the NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV, as well as by leading stakeholders from Latin America. The conference provided an opportunity for more than 200 participants from a broad array of government and industry stakeholders to come together in order to exchange information, to understand the challenges facing the region with respect to the safe, secure and sustainable use of nuclear energy, and to identify opportunities and solutions to such challenges.
NEA participates in the World Energy Congress
On 9-11 October 2016, NEA Director‑General Mr William D. Magwood, IV was in Turkey for a series of meetings with Turkish ministries and authorities, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority and the Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Authority. On 10 October, he was featured among the invited speakers at the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, the World Energy Council's global event and multi‑energy forum. He spoke about the key drivers defining the future of nuclear power during the panel session on "Tomorrow's nuclear and today's realities". During his speech, he discussed the potential role of nuclear energy in combating climate change within the IEA 2°C scenario and noted that "when comparing nuclear with other sources, on a level playing field nuclear performs very well." Mr Magwood was also a guest speaker at the Bosphorus Energy Club session on "Current Global Energy Dynamics for Decision Makers".
Ensuring safety through nuclear regulatory inspection
On 24-27 October 2016, the NEA Working Group on Inspection Practices (WGIP) met to exchange information and experience related to regulatory safety inspections among member countries. During this meeting, the group reviewed its first triennial report on the six observed inspections it has performed since April 2013 in order to prepare it for submission to the NEA Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) for approval. Another key highlight of the meeting was the inspection observation at the Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant in Mexico, which was conducted in September 2016. Participants noted the inspection observation report and discussed the commendable practices identified during this inspection. They also discussed the potential topics to be addressed at the 14th International Nuclear Regulatory Inspection Workshop, which will be organised in 2018 in Germany.
Safety culture within the regulatory body
On 4-6 October 2016, the NEA Safety Culture Ad hoc Group held its second meeting with participants from ten countries and had a lively discussion on the influence of the culture within the regulatory body on the safety of nuclear installations. The group, which had been commissioned by the CNRA to examine open issues in the area of safety culture, had identified strategic themes at its first meeting in April 2016. During this meeting, participants focused on the development of practical methods to implement the principles described in the NEA report on The Safety Culture of an Effective Regulatory Body, further developing the strategic themes and creating a mandate for the future work of the group to be submitted to the CNRA for approval. Participants had a fruitful exchange of views and ideas on how to develop and maintain a culture for safety in their respective regulatory bodies.
Projected growth in uranium demand
On 18-21 October 2016, the Joint NEA/IAEA Group on Uranium (UG) held a meeting in Buenos Aires with the support of the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) of Argentina. With continuing interest in uranium supply and demand, 33 delegates from 20 countries and the Euratom Supply Agency took part in the meeting and discussed the results of the next edition of Uranium: Resources, Production and Demand. Participants also addressed various uranium market issues, including the delay in some mine development plans. They noted, however, that the review of nuclear capacity projections to 2035 continues to point to growth in uranium demand, especially in Asia. The meeting also included a visit to the Atucha II Nuclear Power Plant, organised with the support of Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA.
GIF discusses reactor safety design criteria
On 20-21 October 2016, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) held its semi-annual Policy Group (PG) meeting in Seoul, Korea, hosted by the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and the Korea Nuclear International Cooperation Foundation (KONICOF). The group approved the nominations of new members of the Senior Industrial Advisory Panel, which also presented its three‑year plan that includes support to the work that GIF intends to carry out on market issues and challenges for Generation IV nuclear energy systems. There was an extensive discussion on the work executed in the area of safety design criteria and guidelines, including for the sodium-cooled fast reactor, as well as other systems, and the collaboration with the NEA Ad hoc Group on the Safety of Advanced Reactors (GSAR). This was also the first meeting attended by Australia's newly nominated group members since Australia became a member in June 2016 by signing the GIF Charter.
IFNEC Executive Committee meets in Argentina
On 27 October 2016, the 2016 Executive Committee of the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) met in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Upon the proposal of the Steering Group Chair, the Executive Committee agreed on the launch of a new IFNEC ad hoc working group on nuclear supplier and customer countries engagement. It also agreed to release the proceedings of the IFNEC/NEA conference on "Nuclear energy's role in the 21st century: addressing the challenge of financing", which was held on 11-12 May 2016 in Paris, France, and the report of the Reliable Nuclear Fuel Services Working Group on the Overview of the Dual Track Approach for National Back-end Programs. The Committee also noted and approved the technical and financial report by the NEA Technical Secretariat, which included the preliminary outcomes of the member country survey on the current and future activities of IFNEC. During this meeting, France and Argentina announced that they would contribute to the budget of the Technical Secretariat, in addition to the contributions of Japan, Poland and the United States which had already been announced. The meeting concluded with a joint statement on IFNEC activities and the 2016 IFNEC Week in Argentina in particular.
Decommissioning policy, strategy and regulation
On 25-27 October 2016, the NEA Working Party on Decommissioning and Dismantling (WPDD) held its annual meeting in Rome, Italy. Hosted by Sogin, the Italian state-owned company responsible for the decommissioning of Italian nuclear power plants and the management of radioactive waste, the meeting was attended by more than 60 delegates from 14 NEA member countries and representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the European Commission. The delegates were informed in detail about the decommissioning landscape in Italy. Following a topical session on the regulation of decommissioning, it was decided to encourage the NEA Regulator's Forum to establish a joint task group to further evaluate the challenges in regulating decommissioning projects in NEA member countries. The participating members also had an extensive discussion on how to further optimise the engagement of the NEA in the field of nuclear decommissioning and the future role and position of the group, and decided to discuss this issue jointly between the Bureaus of both the WPDD and the NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC). The next WPDD meeting will be held on 3-5 October 2017 in Ottawa, Canada.
Record, knowledge and memory of radioactive waste
A unique international platform for member countries to share their experiences in preserving records and knowledge of radioactive waste, and developing cultural heritage, the NEA initiative on the Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory (RK&M) across Generations met on 17‑19 October 2016. During this meeting, participating members worked on a systematic RK&M preservation approach using complementary record management elements to maximise the survival of key information. They considered specific provisions for knowledge reconstruction and the necessary regulatory guidance to ensure records preservation. In order to increase awareness of documentary heritage around the world, they also discussed the possibility of co-operating with the UNESCO Memory of the World programme. The RK&M task groups which were established to pursue work on the key information file (KIF) and the set of essential records (SER), two innovative techniques for long‑term knowledge management, are planning to issue their final reports in April 2017.
Safety case for geological disposal of radioactive waste
The NEA Integration Group for the Safety Case (IGSC) and its Expert Group on Operational Safety (EGOS) held their annual meetings during the week of 10 October 2016 to report on the status of their various ongoing activities. The IGSC discussed, in particular, different ways to collaborate with other NEA working groups in order to further enhance the communications and acceptance of safety cases. Participating members discussed future work on uncertainty management in safety cases and other potential initiatives, including the creation of a scientific sub-group, the Crystalline Club, to share existing knowledge about geological repositories in crystalline rocks. The IGSC also dedicated a full day to discussions on examining the latest technologies for constructing geological repositories and demonstrating safe disposal of radioactive waste. The EGOS discussed their future work on compiling a list of credible hazardous events in operating underground facilities which could be useful for planning safe operations and assessing the safety of geological repositories for radioactive waste. The group anticipates continuing its current work on exchanging experiences among member programmes in developing waste acceptance criteria for geological disposal repositories.
Nuclear legacy site management
In the past years, the need for practical regulatory guidance for the supervision and management of radiological legacy sites has become increasingly evident. A number of common themes have arisen, taking into account the great complexity and variety of sites and the need to ensure that the regulatory basis for addressing radiological protection should be well-planned, holistic, integrated and innovative. With this need in mind, the NEA established the Expert Group on Legacy Management (EGLM), which held its first meeting on 20-21 October 2016. Participating members identified and examined more closely the areas of common concern, notably the need for better radiological characterisation of the sites, and guidance and support to the regulator for applying international recommendations. Member country experts discussed more than ten national case studies from which commonalities will be extracted in support of the group's final report, which will summarise common trends, problems and developments for legacy sites and installations. During this meeting, the experts agreed on the report outline and began the first phase of writing, with an expectation for final report delivery in late 2017.
Occupational exposure during decommissioning activities
On 3-6 October 2016, the ISOE Working Group on Radiological Aspects of Decommissioning Activities at Nuclear Power Plants (WGDECOM) organised a meeting and benchmarking visits to the nuclear sites undergoing decommissioning in Sweden. Hosted by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) and AB Svafo, the meeting was attended by members and observers from eight ISOE countries: Canada, France, Germany, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. In addition to implementing its programme of work for 2016-2017, the Group conducted benchmarkings of radiological aspects at the R2 test reactor in Studsvik, including a newly built station for the final stage of clearance measurement of materials from decommissioning, and the Barsebäck nuclear power plant, including an on-site interim waste storage buffer building which began operating one month ago. The next WGDECOM meeting is scheduled to take place in April 2017 in Spain.
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