IDKM of radioactive waste management

The effective capture, transmission and use of data, information and knowledge is what is known as information, data and knowledge management (IDKM).

Radioactive waste management and decommissioning of nuclear installations are knowledge-dependent activities that tend to exist within robust regulatory frameworks and on long timescales (up to hundreds of years for nuclear waste to reach final disposal). Records must be well structured, with metadata included to justify decisions made and demonstrate that processes have been followed correctly, and detailed knowledge passed across subsequent generations of worker to ensure continued safety. Geological disposal facilities will need to operate for over one hundred years, during which time information systems are likely to change many times, and present day media and file formats may become obsolete and unsupported. After closure of a facility, information on its location, design and inventory may need to be retained for many thousands of years to retain confidence in its safety, over which time societies and their institutions and archives may change significantly or cease to exist.

These aspects are unique challenges for IDKM in radioactive waste management and decommissioning and require not only technical effort, but consideration of societal aspects as well.

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NEA work on this topic

Cognisant of the particular demand for IDKM in radioactive waste management (RWM), the NEA has established several activities under the auspices of the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) to address this area of work.

The Working Party on Information, Data and Knowledge Management (WP-IDKM) is charged with identifying and executing an integrated programme of work, covering four main working areas of IDKM for RWM:

  1. the safety case – overseen by the Expert Group on a Data and Information Management Strategy for the Safety Case (EGSSC)
  2. knowledge management – overseen by the Expert Group on Knowledge Management for Radioactive Waste Management Programmes and Decommissioning (EGKM)
  3. archiving – overseen by the Expert Group on Archiving for Radioactive Waste Management Activities (EGAR)
  4. awareness of disposed wastes and repositories – overseen by the Expert Group on Awareness Preservation after Repository Closure (EGAP)

The creation of the WP-IDKM and the publication of the IDKM Roadmap, which outlines a scope of work and needed activities in IDKM for all phases of RWM, decommissioning and legacy management, were outcomes of the 2019 NEA public workshop on IDKM.

This workshop demonstrated immense interest in IDKM, with attendance from IDKM experts, engineers and scientists from RWM organisations and social scientists. The workshop shared the results of successful, previous NEA activities related to IDKM and explored an integrated picture of IDKM in the RWM field.