Working Group on Fuel Cycle Safety (WGFCS)

    Introduction

    The Working Group on Fuel Cycle Safety brings together representatives of regulatory bodies, their technical support organisations, and operators of nuclear fuel cycle facilities, which comprise a number of interrelated activities, including: uranium mining and milling; uranium refining and conversion to uranium hexafluoride; uranium enrichment; fuel fabrication and storage; spent fuel storage; spent fuel reprocessing; decommissioning of nuclear facilities; radioactive waste management and disposal options (including for spent fuel) and the research and demonstration facilities that support these activities.

    Reactor operation is conventionally not included in the so-called nuclear fuel cycle. Similarly, the long-term management of radioactive waste is a very broad field, widely covered in several other NEA Committees, and is therefore not addressed, although the safety aspects associated with processing and storing waste in the short term on the site of fuel cycle facilities are treated by the group.

    Mandate

    The objective of the Working Group on Fuel Cycle Safety (WGFCS) is to advance the understanding for both regulators and operators of relevant aspects of nuclear fuel cycle safety in member countries. In order to accomplish this objective the working group shall:

    • Meet periodically to exchange information on relevant matters including licensing systems, safety philosophy and safety standards to improve mutual understanding, and to review the information from the joint IAEA/NEA Fuel Incident and Notification and Analyses System (FINAS) and other databases.
    • Indicate where further research is needed, review and prioritise safety issues, prepare state-of-the-art reports, hold workshops as appropriate and collaborate with other groups as necessary.

    To achieve this mandate the WGFCS shall:

    1. Report to the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) and assist that committee with its work. The WGFCS programme of work will be approved by CSNI.
    2. Constitute a forum for exchange of information and experience of activities related to nuclear fuel cycle safety in member countries.
    3. Encourage and support WGFCS member countries to contribute frequently and regularly to the FINAS by their reports. In case of an event of common interest organize a specific forum to share lessons-learned and promote their implementation.
    4. Indicate where further research and analysis is needed and denote priority actions to be undertaken. The WGFCS will prepare technical reviews of work in all phases of the nuclear fuel cycle where such reports are needed for further development. In doing so, care will be taken to avoid duplication of effort or scope with other CSNI working groups, or with other international bodies.
    5. With prior approval of the CSNI, collaborate with or assist the other working groups, NEA committees or other international organisations.

    Programme of work

    Work in progress or recently finished

    Safety of Long Term Interim storage Facilities
    The objectives of the task group were to discuss and review current national activities, plans and regulatory approaches for the safety of long term interim storage facilities dedicated to spent nuclear fuel (SF) and high level waste (HLW). A workshop was organised and hosted by the Gesellschaft für Anlagen und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) mbH on 21-23 May 2013 in Munich, Germany with about 90 participants from 16 NEA member countries and two international organisations. 29 technical papers were presented discussing national approaches, safety requirements, regulatory framework and implementation issues, technical issues and operational experience, as well as needs for R&D in the area of long term interim storage facilities.

    For more information, visit the workshop webpage (password protected | reminder).

    Safety Assessment of Fuel Cycle Facilities
    The task main objectives were to review the various approaches of national regulators, and their technical support organizations (TSO), in the Safety Assessment of Fuel Cycle Facilities (FCFs) and the experience of their industry in providing safety justification for their facilities. A workshop took place in Toronto, Canada, 27–29 September 2011, hosted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). More than 60 specialists representing 11 countries and international organisations attended the workshop. A total of 31 papers were presented and discussed in open forum. In addition, an opportunity was taken to consider the impacts of the events at Fukushima on Fuel Cycle Facilities (FCFs) in general.

    For more information, visit the workshop webpage (password protected | reminder).

    Ageing Management of Fuel Cycle Facilities
    The task, which the main objective was to review the potential impact of ageing on the safety, regulation, and operability of nuclear fuel cycle facilities (FCFs), started with a questionnaire and continued by a Workshop on Ageing Management of Fuel Cycle Facilities, which was held in Paris on 5-7 October 2009. Workshop was attended by about 40 participants from 8 countries and two and half days discussions were organised around the presentation of 20 papers. A workshop proceeding was published. A Technical opinion paper completed the task in 2012.

    Future activities

    Operational and Regulatory Aspects of Criticality Safety
    The activity should start shortly and it should be focused on review national activities, plans and regulatory approaches for criticality safety in the following areas: fuel enrichment and fabrication operations, radioisotope production, waste management operations, reprocessing operations, transportation of fissile materials, and other operations or activities in which nuclear criticality safety (NCS) is of concern.


    Recent reports

    CSNI Technical Opinion Paper No. 15 - Ageing management of Fuel Cycle Facilities
    NEA No. 6990, NEA/CSNI/R(2012)7, ISBN 978-92-64-99181-1

    Proceedings of the workshop on Ageing Management of Fuel Cycle Facilities
    NEA/CSNI/R(2010)4

    The Safety of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
    NEA No. 3588, ISBN 92-64-01421-7

    Workshop on Fuel Cycle Safety – Past, Present and Future
    Wilmington, North Carolina, USA, 16-18 October 2007