Radioactive waste management and decommissioning

    Overview and working groups

    The NEA seeks to assist its member countries in developing safe, sustainable and societally acceptable strategies for the management of all types of radioactive materials, with particular emphasis on the management of long-lived waste and spent fuel and on decommissioning of disused nuclear facilities. The programme of work in these areas is carried out for the most part by the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) assisted by three working parties and their subgroups:

    Other NEA Committees also have interests in this field: the Committee on Radiation Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) and the Nuclear Development Committee (NDC).

    RWMC mandate and structure

    The NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) created in 1975 is an international committee of senior representatives from regulatory authorities, radioactive waste management and decommissioning organisations, policy making bodies, and research-and-development institutions from the NEA countries. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) participates in the work of the RWMC, and the European Commission (EC) is a full member of the Committee. The RWMC maintains strong ties with national high-level advisory bodies to governments and with transnational bodies such as the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). Collaboration also takes place with the Governance directorate of the OECD.

    The purpose of the RWMC is to support international co-operation in the management of material from nuclear installations, including facility decommissioning and long-term waste management. The Committee implements a programme of work that:

    • fosters a shared and broad-based understanding of the state of the art and emerging issues;
    • facilitates the elaboration of waste management strategies that respect societal requirements;
    • helps to provide common bases to the national regulatory frameworks;
    • enables the management of radioactive waste and materials to benefit from progress of scientific and technical knowledge, e.g., through joint projects and specialist meetings;
    • contributes to knowledge consolidation and transfer, e.g., through the publication of technical reports, consensus statements and short flyers; and
    • helps to advance best practice, e.g., by supporting international peer reviews.

    The regulator members of the RWMC also participate in a separate Regulators' Forum (RWMC RF) through which they discuss and report on topics of specific regulatory interest and which determines, where appropriate, how such issues are progressed within the full Committee.

    Overall, the RWMC is a unique multinational committee of specialists at the forefront in addressing both the technical and societal requirements for durable and sustainable waste management and decommissioning solutions. It provides a neutral forum where policy makers, regulators and implementing organisations can discuss issues of common interest and develop solutions that meet the diverse needs of its participants.

    RWMC flyers

    • Geological Disposal of Radioactive Wastes: National Commitment, Local and Regional Involvement  
    • Radiological Protection and Geological Disposal: The Guiding Principles and Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP)
    • The Construction and Operation of Geological Disposal Facilities for High-level Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel: Challenges and Opportunities  
    • Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning at the NEA     
    • Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory across Generations (2011)
    • International Understanding of Reversibility of Decisions and Retrievability of Waste in Geological Disposal   
    • Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory across Generations (2014)  
    • Radioactive Waste Management: The Role and Image of the Nuclear Safety Regulator  
    • Moving Forward with Geological Disposal of High-activity Radioactive Waste (2008)    

    Recent activities and products


    Publicly available RWMC documents since the year 2000 are accessible via the following link. 
    Most documents are downloadable.

    Complete list of documents organised by subject, including links

    Password-protected pages


    Last reviewed: 21 September 2015