NEA WebChat with H.E. Michal Kurtyka, Poland's Minister of Climate
The NEA recently hosted a WebChat between Michal Kurtyka, Poland's Minister of Climate and COP24 President, and NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV. A leading figure in global discussions on climate neutrality and energy‑related emissions, Minister Kurtyka discussed the proposed Energy Policy of Poland until 2040 (EPP2040) and shared his perspectives on the clean energy transition. The conversation also covered topics such as the decarbonisation of the power sector, low‑carbon recovery after COVID‑19, and new nuclear build in Poland.
NEA releases new report and policy brief on the management and disposal of high-level radioactive waste
While several countries are making significant progress toward the establishment of deep geologic repositories (DGRs), many stakeholders appear to be unaware of the progress that has and is being made, and about the scientific consensus that exists regarding the application of DGRs to high-level waste disposal. NEA's new report and policy brief provide factual information regarding the management of high-level radioactive waste in DGRs. These documents highlight that countries around the world have great confidence that the use of DGRs is a safe and effective method to protect people and the environment from long-lived radioactive waste materials.
NEA Director-General's virtual mission to Japan
As the NEA continues to adapt to the new way of working, a series of "virtual missions" is being organised with member countries and key partners. NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV and senior staff recently held a series of virtual meetings with various ministries and institutions of Japan, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan (CAO), the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation of Japan (NDF). The Director General's virtual visit to Japan gave opportunities to exchange updates on nuclear power, education and research, as well as on how to continue strengthening the NEA's engagement with Japanese entities.
The role of nuclear energy during COVID‑19 and beyond
Coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic has had significant impacts on the global economy and energy sector. It has also underlined the importance of electricity reliability and resilience during major disruptions. The NEA is currently examining the regulatory and operational impacts of the crisis, and working closely with its members to enable exchanges of policy approaches and best practices around the world. As part of these efforts, the NEA has launched a set of policy briefs and is hosting a series of discussions that explore the role that nuclear energy can play in the post‑COVID‑19 recovery, whilst also supporting the path towards a truly sustainable and environmentally responsible energy future. Find out more at oe.cd/nea-covid-19-3.
Launch webinar for new NEA report on reducing the costs of new nuclear power generation
The NEA will host a webinar on 2 July 2020 to present and discuss findings from a new report on reducing the costs of new nuclear power generation. The forthcoming report will provide a number of recommendations, both for the nuclear sector and for policy makers, to unlock meaningful cost reductions for future nuclear construction projects. It will also explore the risk allocation and mitigation priorities needed to define adequate financing schemes for these projects. For more information on the report and to register for the webinar, please click here.
The Generalised Nuclear Database Structure: Establishing an International Nuclear Data Standard
Nuclear data are produced by dozens of organisations around the world and shared internationally for the safe operation of nuclear power reactors, waste and reprocessing facilities, and nuclear medicine applications. We are hosting an expert roundtable discussion on 8 July 2020 on the Generalised Nuclear Data Structure (GNDS), the new international nuclear data standard launched by the NEA in May 2020. In this discussion, we will explore the GNDS 1.9, its use, specifications, and the strategic vision of the project moving forward. For more information and to register, please click here.
Nuclear safety technology and regulation
Nuclear regulatory activities
With its biannual meeting on 2‑3 June 2020, the NEA Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) was the first NEA Standing Technical Committee to hold a fully remote meeting. Participants examined the draft for a new committee structure and governance, which had been developed by the CNRA Bureau based on a survey on member country priorities, and made notable progress on the committee's strategic review. The Bureau plans to provide a final proposal to the committee for its December meeting. In addition to reviewing new activity proposals and reports from various CNRA working groups, participants also discussed the role of the CNRA in responding to the COVID‑19 pandemic. CNRA members have exchanged since early April on the challenges posed by COVID‑19 with regards to nuclear inspection and human performance.
Safety of nuclear installations
The NEA Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) held its biannual meeting on 4‑5 June 2020 via video conference. The participants reviewed four joint project and eight new activity proposals such as the organisation of a symposium on the probabilistic safety assessment (PSA) for unique or singular reactors. Committee members also reviewed 11 reports, including a state‑of‑the‑art report on reactivity‑initiated accidents and a report on improving the robustness of electrical power systems for nuclear plants. The meeting closed with a discussion on the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic on CSNI activities. The committee decided to hold a specific session at its December meeting on actions taken and lessons learnt during the pandemic.
The NEA Working Group on the Safety of Advanced Reactors (WGSAR) met on 23 June 2020 via video conference. The group members made advances on a technical report on fuel qualification for advanced reactors. They discussed a draft benchmark specification for a lead‑cooled fast reactor core damage scenario that has been developed in order to assess code capabilities and to address knowledge gaps for regulators. The participants also discussed the safety design criteria developed by the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) on structures, systems and components for sodium-cooled fast reactor systems.
Mitigating the psychosocial impacts of radiation emergencies
The NEA Expert Group on Non-Radiological Public Health Aspects of Radiation Emergency Planning and Response (EGNR) is developing an operational approach for mitigating the mental health and psychosocial impacts of radiation emergencies. In this regard, the EGNR co‑organised a web‑based workshop with the World Health Organization (WHO) on 26 June 2020 to explore the mitigation of the psychological impacts of various types of crises, such as the COVID‑19 pandemic, natural disasters and nuclear accidents. While there is no one‑size‑fits‑all approach, the panellists agreed on the need for a generic operational framework that addresses mental health and psychosocial needs arising due to radiological emergencies. This framework should integrate guidance for adaptation to regional, cultural, social and economic features. With such a framework, decision making could shift from a radiological protection‑centred strategy to a more holistic view of health protection that also includes mental health and psychosocial support.
Nuclear development and economics
Nuclear energy at the G20
The NEA participated in the Guide on Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) Workshop organised by the G20 Energy Sustainability Working Group (ESWG) on 14 June 2020. At this workshop, the NEA presented a draft report on the role of nuclear energy in a circular carbon economy. This report is being prepared for the Guide to the CCE series compiled by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) within the context of Saudi Arabia's 2020 G20 Presidency. Other contributors to this guide include the IEA, the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Global CCS Institute. The concept of the CCE focuses on "four Rs" for carbon mitigation: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Remove. Nuclear energy is grouped together with energy efficiency and non‑biomass renewable energy under the "Reduce" category.
June 2020 was IFNEC's SMR Month
The NEA provides technical secretariat support to the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) whose mission is to facilitate co‑operation among participating countries to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes by using mutually beneficial approaches. This year IFNEC dedicated the month of June to Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in order to better understand the challenges faced by its members in deploying SMRs for clean energy. As such, five webinars were organised in June:
- National Market Perspectives Regarding SMR Market Development: Emerging Countries Have a Conversation on Deployment
- SMR Financing: Private and Public Options
- SMR Licensing: Sharing Experiences on Regulatory Collaboration
- SMR Vendor Forum: An Open Discussion with Global Vendors to Review Designs and Benefits
- Energy Synergy (nuclear and renewable) and Hybrid Systems
- To learn more about SMRs and to view the webinar recordings, please visit www.ifnec.org.
- Radioactive waste management
- International co-operation on decommissioning
To learn more about SMRs and to view the webinar recordings, please visit www.ifnec.org.
Radioactive waste management
International co-operation on decommissioning
The NEA Co‑operative Programme for the Exchange of Scientific and Technical Information Concerning Nuclear Installation Decommissioning Projects (CPD) held a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) session on material management on 22 June 2020 with domain experts in 13 organisations from nine NEA member countries, one non‑member economy and the European Commission. The topical session featured five technical presentations by four TAG member organisations from France, the Slovak Republic, Russia and the European Commission (EC). The participants discussed free release of radioactive waste management, categorisation of radioactive waste and prioritisation of waste treatment. They also exchanged experiences and lessons learnt with regards to the programme management aspect of radioactive waste management (from characterisation to final storage solutions).
Advancing Geological Repositories from Concept to Operation
The Sixth International Conference on Geological Repositories (ICGR 2020) will take place on 8‑11 November 2020 in Helsinki, Finland. Building upon the previous conferences held in Denver (1999), Stockholm (2003), Berne (2007), Toronto (2012) and Paris (2016), ICGR 2020 will focus on "Advancing Geological Repositories from Concept to Operation" and demonstrate the significant progress of geological repositories in the last two decades. The event will bring together high level decision makers from responsible government ministries, regulatory bodies, waste management organisations, research institutes, and local stakeholders, as well as young professionals and students, to review current perspectives of geological repository development. It will show the progress made in the last two decades towards geologic disposal of radioactive waste by facilitating an exchange of information and experience. Participants will discuss various best practices in demonstrating technical reliability and share approaches in building human capacity, as well as in developing stakeholder confidence in the safety construction and operation of long term geological repositories. For more information and to register, please visit www.icgr2020.org.
2020 edition of the International School of Nuclear Law is cancelled
In light of the considerable uncertainty surrounding the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and potential government-imposed control measures in France, it is with great regret that the NEA, in co-ordination with the University of Montpellier, have decided to cancel the 2020 edition of the International School of Nuclear Law (ISNL). The 2020 ISNL would have marked the 20th anniversary of our programme, which has been held every year since 2001. Although unable to celebrate this important milestone in 2020, the NEA looks forward to delivering an exceptional programme next year, from 23 August to 3 September 2021. The application will be available on the ISNL website in January 2021.
Legal aspects of nuclear safety
The NEA Working Party on the Legal Aspects of Nuclear Safety held a virtual meeting on 9-10 June 2020 with 57 participants representing 19 NEA member countries, the Bureaus of three NEA Standing Technical Committees, five non-NEA member countries and the European Commission (EC). The meeting opened with a discussion on the legal and regulatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, with presentations provided by Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Discussions continued with presentations by Belgium, Germany and the EC on environmental impact assessments for the long-term operation / lifetime extension of nuclear power reactors. In addition, the EC also gave a presentation on the new European Union (EU) Whistleblower Protection Directive. The second day of the meeting focused on a draft survey on legal challenges related to nuclear safety, with presentations provided by Canada, the Czech Republic, Korea, Spain and the United States.
Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention meeting
The Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy met on 22 June 2020 to discuss the interpretation and implementation of this Convention and the Brussels Convention Supplementary to the Paris Convention. They also continued to prepare for the entry into force of the 2004 Protocols to amend both conventions.
The Contracting Parties have not been able to ratify the 2004 Protocol to amend the Paris Convention due to a decision of the Council of the European Union (EU) that requires EU Member States which are Contracting Parties to the Paris Convention (except Denmark and Slovenia) to deposit their instruments of ratification simultaneously (2004/294/EC). The last EU Member State that needs to finalise its national legislative process in view of the ratification is Italy, which has made some progress recently: the Italian Senate has resumed its work and the 2004 Protocols ratification and implementation bill has been approved on 26 May 2020 by the two Standing Committees that were examining it (see here for information in Italian only), The bill (available here in Italian only) will now be referred to the Senate in plenary for discussion and final vote and the final phase will be defined in due course. Information on the legislative process is available here in English.
In addition, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey approved the bill for the ratification and implementation of the 2004 Protocol at its 21st meeting on 11 March 2020 and submitted its report on the approved bill to the Office of the Speaker on 8 April 2020. The bill is expected to be submitted for adoption to the Plenary of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, but no date is anticipated. The bill is available here in Turkish, and information in English on the process to approve the ratification of international treaties by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is available here.
Legal aspects of deep geological repositories
The NEA Working Party on Deep Geological Repositories and Nuclear Liability (WPDGR) held a virtual two-day meeting on 25-26 June 2020, bringing together nearly 50 legal, radioprotection and waste management experts representing 14 member and five non-member countries, as well as representatives from the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) and the World Nuclear Association (WNA). Participants discussed specific topics relating to deep geological repositories (DGRs), such as DGR corporate structure and funding, the identification of the entity bearing nuclear liability throughout a DGR's lifetime, as well as legacy management and public participation issues. Delegates from Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Russia and the United States exchanged information and insights on their national experiences during the meeting.
Nuclear science and data
NEA (TDB) Project course: Thermodynamic data collection and assessment
The 4th edition of the annual NEA Thermochemical Database (TDB) Project course on thermodynamic data collection and assessment will be held as a free-of-charge webinar on 12 November 2020. This course is designed to familiarise scientists with current NEA TDB activities and standards, provide an overview of data collection and analysis techniques, and work through some real system examples to demonstrate the critical evaluation and data assessment process. Find out more and apply at oe.cd/nea-tdb-2020.