Wishing the NEA community a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Developing and implementing geological repositories for long-lived radioactive waste
On 6-9 December 2016, the NEA and the French national radioactive waste management agency Andra held the fifth International Conference on Geological Repositories (ICGR) in Paris, France. The conference, on "Continued Engagement and Safe Implementation of Geological Repositories", convened seniorlevel decisionmakers representing international and national bodies from countries that are in different stages of implementing deep geological repository programmes. Participants underlined the added value of international cooperation for the safe implementation of geological repository projects and concluded that deep geological repositories remain a viable and safe option for the management of radioactive waste. The scientific knowledge and technical bases relating to the disposal of radioactive waste are being enhanced and the technical design of repositories will be further optimised through current and future R&D programmes. Participants also noted that current strategies for repository implementation follow international standards, recommendations and best practices for nuclear safety and security. The important role of continued stakeholder dialogue in advancing a geological repository project was also highlighted. Conference proceedings are in preparation and will be issued online.
Nuclear regulatory activities
On 5-6 December 2016, the NEA Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) held its biannual meeting during which each CNRA and Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP) working group presented updates on their programme of work and ongoing activities. Among the decisions taken, the committee approved the proceedings of the 13th International Nuclear Regulatory Inspection Workshop held in April 2016 by the NEA Working Group on Inspection Practices (WGIP) in Bruges, Belgium, as well as the topics to be addressed at the 14th workshop which will be organised in Germany in 2018. Participants agreed for the WGIP to organise its next observed inspections in Finland and the United Kingdom, and to host a workshop with MDEP on digital instrumentation and control inspection. They also discussed the impact of increasing economic pressures on the decisions of operators and regulatory bodies, as well as on their relations.
Safety of nuclear installations
The NEA Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) held it biannual meeting on 78 December 2016. In the context of its programme of work, the committee approved new tasks and five reports, including a report that summarises the current options being pursued for storage and disposal of fuel in NEA member countries and the contribution of long-term interim storage facilities to the options being pursued. A particular highlight of the meeting was the discussion on joint research projects focusing on fires at nuclear power plants. The NEA High Energy Arcing Fault Events (HEAF) Project has completed its first phase of experimental tests and has demonstrated that arcing faults in cabinets with aluminium components were significantly more severe. A second phase for the project has been proposed to further investigate and quantify the phenomena. Regarding the NEA PRISME-2 Project, which provides valuable data for developing and validating fire behaviour computer codes, a third phase of testing using a fire code benchmark has been proposed to investigate fire and smoke propagation with complex sources.
Projected demand for uranium
Demand for uranium is expected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future as nuclear power is projected to grow considerably in regulated electricity markets with increasing electricity demand and a growing need for clean air electricity generation. As of 1 January 2015, a total of 437 commercial nuclear reactors were connected to the grid with a net generating capacity of 377 GWe requiring about 56 600 tU annually. Taking into account changes in policies announced in several countries and revised nuclear development plans, world nuclear capacity is projected to grow to between 418 GWe net in the low demand case and 683 GWe net in the high demand case by 2035, representing increases of 11% and 81%, respectively. Accordingly, world annual reactor-related uranium requirements (excluding mixed oxide fuel [MOX]) are projected to rise to between 66 995 tU and 104 740 tU by 2035. Download the latest data on uranium resources, production and demand at oe.cd/1F6
Management of radioactive waste after a nuclear power plant accident
The NEA Expert Group on Fukushima Waste Management and Decommissioning R&D was established in 2014 to offer advice to the authorities in Japan on the management of large quantities of on-site waste with complex properties and to share experiences with the international community and NEA member countries on ongoing work at the Fukushima Daiichi site. The group was formed with specialists from around the world who had gained experience in waste management, radiological contamination or decommissioning and waste management R&D after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. The group has just finalised its report which provides technical opinions and ideas on post-accident waste management and R&D at the Fukushima Daiichi site, as well as information on decommissioning challenges. Download the report here: oe.cd/1Fq
International criticality safety benchmark evaluation
The 2016 edition of the International Handbook of Evaluated Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiments contains criticality safety benchmark specifications that have been derived from experiments performed at various critical facilities around the world. It presents evaluated criticality safety benchmark data in nine volumes that span over 70 000 pages. The handbook contains 567 evaluations with benchmark specifications for 4 913 critical, near-critical or subcritical configurations, 45 criticality alarm placement/shielding configurations with multiple dose points for each, and 215 configurations that have been categorised as fundamental physics measurements that are relevant to criticality safety applications. Requests to obtain the DVD or online access should be made by completing the online Handbook Request Form at oe.cd/1f8
NEA Nuclear Data Week
On 28 November-2 December 2016, the NEA Data Bank hosted its bi-annual Nuclear Data Week to promote co-operation among experimentalists, nuclear data evaluators and end users of nuclear data. Organised within the framework of the Joint Evaluated Fission and Fusion (JEFF) Nuclear Data Library activity, NEA Nuclear Data Week aims at fostering ties among various nuclear data expert communities in order to address the needs and challenges of nuclear systems more effectively. This session was attended by over 70 experts from 17 countries and international organisations representing the JEFF participants. During the five-day technical programme, delegates and experts reviewed recent progress in experimental programmes and ongoing evaluation work in both the fission and fusion fields. The JEFF Project is currently preparing the JEFF-3.3 library for release in 2017 to include a general update to the neutron, decay, fission yields and proton libraries. The week featured an additional meeting of the NEA Working Party on International Nuclear Data Evaluation Co‑operation (WPEC) "Subgroup 39" which is working to develop methodologies for feedback from nuclear and covariance data adjustment to improve nuclear data files. The subgroup’s recent efforts have focused on new adjustments in support of the new evaluations of the WPEC/Collaborative International Evaluated Library Organisation Pilot Project (CIELO).
An online archive of previous editions is available here.
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