NEA Monthly News Bulletin – March 2020

The bulletin provides monthly updates on important NEA activities and newly released reports. Subscription requests can be made by visiting www.oecd-nea.org/register/.

NEA high-level visit to Romania

NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV, and senior staff visited Romania on 19‑20 February 2020 for a series of high‑level meetings. Central to his visit were discussions with Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Romania's energy future. Discussions also addressed electricity system costs and the decarbonisation of electricity systems. While in Romania, Director‑General Magwood toured research facilities at the Politehnica University of Bucharest. The Director‑General's visit to Romania provided an excellent opportunity to review the co‑operation between the NEA and Romania since Romania's accession the Agency in 2017, as well as to exchange views on nuclear energy innovation, education and research.

International co‑operation for the development and advancement of high‑level radioactive waste and spent fuel disposal

On 7 February 2020 the Agency hosted the second Roundtable on Final Disposal of High‑level Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel to facilitate an exchange of experiences and knowledge in developing final disposal policies. Jointly organised by the NEA, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) of Japan, and the Office of Nuclear Energy, United States Department of Energy, the event follows the first roundtable held in October 2019.

The objective of these roundtables is to strengthen international co‑operation for the development and advancement of high‑level radioactive waste and spent fuel disposal. Participants discussed best practices in stakeholder engagement in decision‑making related to the disposal of waste in deep geological repositories. During his opening remarks, NEA Director‑General Magwood underlined the significance of international co‑operation. "Policymakers need both adequate technical information and public confidence and trust to make nuclear decisions," he said. "Roundtables like this are very important in identifying common issues that countries can address together."

March on Gender: Bridging the gender gap in STEM

Despite progress over the past decades, women remain underrepresented in executive positions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Many countries are working to close the gender gap and to develop policies to reverse this trend. In this regard, the NEA launched a series of mentoring workshops in 2017 and organised six events that aimed to encourage young female students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). These workshops provide the participating students with a rare opportunity to interact with accomplished women scientists and engineers from NEA member countries. The NEA encourages its membership to explore ways of attracting, recruiting and retaining women in science and technology. Watch the video here

NEA International Radiological Protection School (IRPS)

The next session of the NEA International Radiological Protection School (IRPS) will take place from 17 to 21 August 2020 at Stockholm University in Sweden. This five‑day training provides mid‑career radiological protection (RP) experts with an understanding of the "spirit" of the RP system. International experts will present the nuances, history and between‑the‑lines meanings of international guidance and working experience, that will allow tomorrow's radiological protection leaders to appropriately apply the RP system to address current and future radiological circumstances. For more information on the course and to apply, see oe.cd/nea-irps.

Radioactive waste management

Optimising predisposal management of radioactive waste

Sustainable solutions for radioactive waste disposal entails three key elements: i) environmental protection, which is ensured through state‑of‑the‑art science and technology; ii) economics, based on appropriate funding mechanisms and cost optimisation; and iii) society, in which ethics, social trust and public confidence are reflected in all activities of waste management. Therefore, the overall system for radioactive waste management, from generation to disposal, has to be optimised holistically, with strong co‑ordination between all players including regulators, operators, policymakers and waste management organisations.

To this end, the NEA held a workshop from 10 to 14 February 2020 on the Multifactor Optimisation of Predisposal Management of Radioactive Waste to discuss optimisation of predisposal management of national radioactive waste management programmes from various points of view, employing a holistic approach for radioactive waste management. Participants had a rich exchange that highlighted the broad spectrum of issues associated with predisposal management of radioactive waste, and identified potential areas for future collaboration. They exchanged national experiences and examined factors that affect the development and optimisation of radioactive waste management programmes.

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.

Nuclear development and economics

Uranium supply and demand

The Joint NEA/IAEA Group on Uranium met on 4‑6 February 2020 in Vienna, Austria, with 49 participants from 33 countries and representatives from the Euratom Supply Agency. With continuing interest in uranium supply and demand, the participating experts reviewed the progress on the next edition of Uranium: Resources, Production and Demand, also known as the Red Book. Delegates from some countries reported that they scaled back uranium production at some mines and that some development plans were being delayed due to unfavourable market conditions. However, a review of nuclear development policies and new build plans continues to point to growth in global nuclear generating capacity through to 2040, particularly in Asia. Despite nuclear power phase‑out policies in some countries, uranium demand is expected to increase over the longer term. The role that nuclear energy ultimately plays in meeting global climate objectives could contribute to even greater projected growth in uranium demand.

Nuclear law

The European Nuclear Energy Tribunal holds inaugural session for its 10th mandate

The Inaugural Session of the 10th mandate of the European Nuclear Energy Tribunal (ENET) was held under NEA auspices on 7 February 2020. The Tribunal consists of seven independent judges appointed for five years by decision of the OECD Council and has jurisdiction over disputes between states parties to the Paris Convention on Nuclear Third Party Liability or the Brussels Convention Supplementary to the Paris Convention concerning the application or interpretation of these conventions. The judges designated for the 10th mandate of the Tribunal are Ms Ulla‑Maija Moisio (Finland), Ms Federica Porcellana (Italy), Mr Francis Delaporte (Luxembourg), Ms Ida Sørebø (Norway), Mr Miguel Sousa Ferro (Portugal), Mr Antonio Vercher Noguera (Spain) who was elected as President by the Tribunal, and Mr Khalil Bukhari (United Kingdom). The mandate of the judges took effect on 1 January 2020. Read more on the ENET at oe.cd/enet, and on the Paris and Brussels Conventions at oe.cd/nuclear-liability-docs.

Global interest in the NEA International Nuclear Law Essentials course

The ninth session of the NEA International Nuclear Law Essentials (INLE) course was held on 17‑21 February 2020 with a diverse international group of 35 professionals from 17 NEA member and non-member countries. During the one‑week programme, the participants learned about the international nuclear law framework and major issues affecting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. A total of 18 lecturers from the NEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), nuclear regulatory authorities and the private sector gave lectures on topics related to nuclear safety, security, non‑proliferation and liability. NEA Director‑General Magwood and Commissioner David A. Wright of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) were among those who spoke during the week. Read more about the INLE at oe.cd/inle.

Applications closing soon for the International School of Nuclear Law

The International School of Nuclear Law (ISNL) is a two‑week course designed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the various legal issues relating to the safe, efficient and secure use of nuclear energy. The 2020 session of the ISNL is still expected to take place from 24 August to 4 September in Montpellier, France. Applications will be accepted through 17 April 2020. Any updates about this year's programme will be posted online and e‑mailed to all applicants. For more information on the course and to apply, see oe.cd/ISNL.

Nuclear science and data

Scientific issues of nuclear reactor systems

The NEA Working Party on Scientific Issues of Reactor Systems (WPRS) held its annual meeting and associated expert group meetings on 19-21 February 2020 with more than 60 experts from 16 countries. The WPRS conducts studies on the reactor physics of advanced nuclear systems, reactor fuel performance radiation transport and shieldingreactor core thermal-hydraulics and uncertainty analysis in the modelling of power systems, focusing on light water reactor (LWR) transients. Participating experts reported on and discussed ongoing activities under the WPRS, including the International Reactor Physics Experiment Evaluation (IRPhE) Project , the International Fuel Performance Experiments database (IFPE)  and the Shielding Integral Benchmark Archive and Database (SINBAD) data.

Training courses on state-of-the-art computer codes

The NEA Data Bank organised two training sessions in February 2020. Hosted by the University of Barcelona in Spain, the first session was dedicated to the PENELOPE code, a code system for Monte Carlo simulation of electron and photon transport which is of interest to radiation physics researchers and is also widely used for medical physics. The second training session focused on one-dimensional analytical methods for the verification of neutron transport algorithms. Participants in both sessions benefited first hand from the knowledge and dedication of the code developers. The two workshops attracted 20 participants from six countries. The NEA Data Bank Computer Program Services organises several training sessions every year, contributing to the dissemination of state‑of‑the‑art codes and engaging the nuclear community. These week‑long courses provide a unique opportunity to bring together code users from around the globe and facilitate exchanges on the use of computer codes. Further information on the NEA Data Bank training courses is available at oe.cd/nea-db-courses.

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 take place on 12‑13 November 2020 in Paris, France. This two‑day 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.

Computer program services

Computer program services  

Training courses

New computer codes and data library (restricted distribution)

See also