The nuclear fuel cycle comprises a number of interrelated activities including uranium mining and milling; uranium refining and conversion to uranium hexafluoride; uranium enrichment; fuel fabrication and storage (including MOX fuel); 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 and long-term management of radioactive waste are widely covered in several other NEA bodies, and therefore, these aspects are not addressed by the WGFCS. Only safety aspects associated with the long and medium-term storing of spent fuel and high-level waste are addressed by the WGFCS. Safety impacts on Fuel Cycle Facilities (FCF) from the transportation of nuclear material are included in the work of the WGFCS. Other spent fuel and high-level waste management issues are co-ordinated by the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC).
The objective of the Working Group on Fuel Cycle Safety (WGFCS) is to advance the understanding of relevant aspects of nuclear fuel cycle safety, from design to decommissioning in member countries.
In order to accomplish this objective, the Working Group:
- Meets 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 Fuel Incident and Notification and Analyses System (FINAS) and other databases.
- Indicates where further research is needed, reviews and prioritises safety issues, prepares state-of-the-art reports, holds workshops as appropriate and collaborates with other groups as necessary. Reports to the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) and assists that Committee with its work. The programme of work of WGFCS is approved by the CSNI.
To achieve this mandate, the WGFSC:
- Constitutes a forum for exchange of information and experiences of activities related to nuclear fuel cycle safety in NEA member countries and assesses the lessons learned and good practises of FCFs in order to reach mutual understanding of design philosophy and principles, licensing systems and safety requirements related to FCFs.
- Encourages and supports WGFCS member countries to report their events in the FINAS database. In case of an event of common interest, to organise a specific forum to share lessons learnt and promote their implementation.
- Identifies new research and analysis targets, assesses their priorities and prepares technical review reports of the different phases of the nuclear fuel cycle. In doing so, avoids duplication of effort or scope with other CSNI Working Groups, or with other international bodies.
- With prior approval of the CSNI, collaborates with or assists the other CSNI Working Groups, NEA bodies or other international organisations.