The development of a reliable and efficient characterisation and categorisation methodology is a common challenge in the fields of post-accident radioactive waste management and legacy waste management. In both cases waste tends to be of a large volume with unknown radiological and/or chemical properties. This is due to the unknown circumstances of an accident or the impacts of time progression after past nuclear activities.
The Expert Group on Characterisation Methodology of Unconventional and Legacy Waste (EGCUL) explored several case studies on how to develop a strategic approach to manage the complex characterisation process of waste. Based on such studies, the EGCUL provided international best practices and shared the lessons learnt in different countries.
Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) in March 2011, various kinds of post-accident radioactive waste were generated. The radioactive waste resulting from the accident had different properties compared with the waste generated by nuclear power plants that operated under normal conditions. Therefore, specific management methods/strategies are needed for managing post-accident waste.
In this context, the Japanese Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation (NDF) requested the NEA’s Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) in March 2017 to assist in developing an integrated methodology for managing a large amount of radioactive waste with unknown properties, focusing on radiological characterisation. Then, in 2018, the EGCUL was launched to tackle these challenges with the following objectives:
Previous related work
The Expert Group on Fukushima Waste Management and Decommissioning R&D (EGFWMD), established under the RWMC in 2014-2016, studied lessons learnt from other nuclear accident, (e.g. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl) including the handling of any environmental contamination and the current status of related waste management. The group then provided a strategic approach to the Japanese government for effective management of radioactive waste related to Fukushima Daiichi in 2016.
Many NEA member countries are facing problems with radiologically contaminated legacy sites and installations. There are many examples of how different legacy issues are managed in various countries, applying different approaches and standards. To address the need for more practical guidance on regulation of radiation protection at legacy sites the Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) agreed, during its 74th Meeting held in Paris in April 2016, to create the Expert Group on Legacy Management (EGLM).
The main objective of the EGLM is to promote a practical and optimised approach for the regulatory supervision of nuclear legacy sites and installations, taking into account the results of other NEA activities such as the Expert Group on Fukushima Waste Management and Decommissioning R&D (EGFWMD), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Fundamentals, the International Basic Safety Standards and the relevant IAEA guidance documents, the relevant existing and the new International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendations, as well as the experience of good practice at different types of legacy sites.