New at the NEA
NEA Director-General visits Brazil to discuss further enhancements to co-operation
NEA Director‑General Mr William D. Magwood, IV and senior staff visited Brazil on 4‑8 November 2019 for a series of meetings with various ministries and institutions, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication (MCTIC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE), the Institutional Security Cabinet, and the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN). Technical visits were also made to the Angra Nuclear Power Plant, the Nuclear and Energy Research Institute (IPEN), and the São Paulo Naval Technology Centre (CTMSP). While in Brazil, Director‑General Magwood gave a lecture on the current state and future prospects for nuclear energy to students and faculty at the University of São Paulo. The Director‑General's visit to Brazil was an excellent opportunity to exchange views on nuclear power, education and research, as well as on how to continue strengthening the NEA's engagement with Brazilian entities.
NEA Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy
On 25‑26 October 2019, the NEA held the biannual meeting of the Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy, the highest decision making body at the NEA in which all 33 member countries are represented. The committee is primarily made up of senior officials from national atomic energy authorities and associated ministries. It oversees and shapes the work of the Agency to ensure its responsiveness to member countries' needs. Among the highlights of the October meeting was a discussion on NEA considerations on nuclear technology evolution. The Committee heard about the NEA's progress in establishing the Global Council of Universities on Nuclear Energy Technology Policy and Education, in which leading universities from around the world will engage important human capital issues and other long‑term challenges. Mrs Anne Lazar‑Sury (France) and Mr James R. Warden (United States) were designated as new Vice‑Chairs to the Bureau of the Committee to support Chair Dr Marta Žiaková (Slovak Republic). The meeting agenda also included a presentation on the recent NEA Workshop on Stakeholder Involvement: Risk Communication – Dialogues towards a Shared Understanding of Radiological Risks . The meeting continued with a Policy Briefing on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
Advancing international co‑operation on radioactive waste disposal
Policymakers from fifteen countries met in Paris on 14 October 2019 to discuss the role of government in international co‑operation on advancing the development of national radioactive waste disposal programmes. The first Roundtable for International Co‑operation in Final Disposal of High‑level Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel was jointly organised by the NEA, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) of Japan, and the United States Department of Energy (US DOE). During his opening remarks, Director‑General Magwood noted that international co‑operation can help achieve national solutions through the exchange of information and co‑ordination of policies, and by developing a consensus on international standards. "There have been intensive technical and scientific collaborations over the years," he said. "However, international dialogues at the strategic and policy levels can help further facilitate the exchange of existing approaches, both in the implementation of the HLW management policies, programmes and in regulatory oversight."
GIF Policy Group visits the HTR‑PM construction site
The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) held it semi‑annual Policy Group meeting during the week of 14‑18 October 2019 in Weihai, China. GIF Policy Group and Experts Group members discussed a variety of topics, including further outreach to regulators to evaluate the development of licensing frameworks, outreach to younger generations, and engagement with Gen IV Small Modular Reactor developers. The NEA presented an update on the study on advanced reactors and future energy market needs (ARFEM), which highlights the must‑have attributes such as flexibility for advanced reactors, including Gen IV systems. In conjunction with this meeting, a symposium was organised to review progress in the development of Gen IV technologies in GIF member countries. GIF members also had the opportunity to visit the construction site of HTR‑PM, the new 210 MWe helium‑cooled high‑temperature reactor planned to be connected to the grid in 2020.
NEA International Mentoring Workshop in Science and Engineering
Building on five previous successful events organised in Japan and Spain to encourage female students to pursue STEM, the latest NEA International Mentoring Workshop in Science and Engineering was held on 2 October 2019 in Moscow, Russia. The event was organised in collaboration with Rosatom Global and hosted at the National Research Nuclear University "MEPhI". It brought together 40 female university students from Russia with four highly accomplished women mentors, including the NEA's Tatiana Ivanova, Head of the Division of Nuclear Science, and Laurie Swami, President and CEO of Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). The workshop featured opening remarks and a presentation on the NEA‑led initiative by Ms Yeonhee Hah, NEA Head of the Division of Radiological Protection and Human Aspects of Nuclear Safety, who encouraged the participants to consider careers as STEMinists working in science and engineering. The NEA series of mentoring 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.
Nuclear safety technology and regulation
Advanced instrumentation for nuclear reactor thermal hydraulics experiments
The NEA Working Group on Analysis and Management of Accidents (WGAMA) co‑organised and participated in the Specialists Workshop on Advanced Instrumentation and Measurement Techniques for Experiments Related to Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics and Severe Accidents (SWINTH‑2019), held on 22‑25 October 2019 in Livorno, Italy. Hosted by the University of Pisa, the event attracted 63 participants from 13 countries, and featured five keynote lectures and 35 regular presentations. The programme covered a wide range of techniques, including local (micro) probes, grid probes, tomographic techniques and flow imaging techniques. Participants discussed optimisation and refinement of established techniques, as well as new and innovative approaches. A general trend in the field is an increase in spatial and temporal resolution, often allowing to compare experimental results to computational fluid dynamics calculations. This, in turn, will generate higher fidelity in the analysis of reactor safety systems and accident scenarios.
MDEP VVERWG visits Tianwan Nuclear Power Station
The Multinational Design Evaluation Project (MDEP) VVER Working Group (VVERWG) met on 22‑25 October 2019 in Suzhou, China, hosted by the National Nuclear Safety Administration of China (NNSA), with the support of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Center (NSA) and Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (JNPC). During the meeting, VVERWG members discussed ongoing VVER projects and exchanged updates on each member country's status of VVER design review and construction. They approved a technical report on regulatory approaches related to accidents and transients analyses and started preparations for the second VVERWG Workshop planned for May 2020. The meeting concluded with a technical tour of the Tianwan Nuclear Power Station.
Safety of advanced nuclear reactors
The NEA Working Group on the Safety of Advanced Reactors (WGSAR) held a meeting on 9‑11 October 2019 to make progress on a technical report on fuel qualification for advanced reactors. Participants also discussed the status of another technical report on regulatory approaches related to the use of analytical codes and methods in safety assessment of advanced reactors. The meeting was joined by the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) to improve GIF/WGSAR interactions for the identification of critical issues related to safety‑relevant phenomena and regulatory aspects for the different Gen IV concepts.
Safety of Generation IV systems
The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) Risk and Safety Working Group (RSWG) met on 7‑8 October 2019 to discuss the framework of its technical report on risk‑informed approach for event selection and component classification. Participants made further progress on a report on the safety approach for design and assessment of Generation IV Systems, and gained valuable insights into the safety design criteria for supercritical water reactors.
Human aspects of nuclear safety
Nuclear safety culture
The NEA Working Group on Safety Culture (WGSC) met on 29‑31 October 2019 to advance its ongoing work on examining methods of self‑reflection and self‑assessment by regulatory bodies on their safety culture, including interactions with licensees. The WGSC continues to catalogue existing good practices and materials on training, as well as practices/approaches on safety culture competence building. Working group members examined the results from a survey distributed earlier this year and created the initial draft report categorising and describing the various methods employed by member countries in these two areas. With a deep appreciation for the open and high level of exchanges of practices among regulators, the group continues to work towards finalising these practical products for the enhancement of safety culture within regulatory body. It is also exploring future work on the impact of regulatory bodies on licensed entities, and leaders in the nuclear community.
Human and organisational factors in nuclear facilities
The NEA Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors (WGHOF) held its plenary meeting in Palaiseau, France on 16‑17 October 2019. The meeting was hosted by Électricité de France (EDF) at the EDF Lab Paris‑Saclay, giving member countries the opportunity to visit the EPR full‑scope simulator and 1300MV series digital simulator at the EDF Campus, and see the applications of virtual reality in training and augmented reality in preparation for complex projects at the Research & Development ConnexLab. The meeting was complemented by the third WGHOF Learning Forum, with presentations by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) on the transfer of knowledge during the renewal of subcontractors), and by EDF on interactive learning exercises for decision makers in extreme events. The Forum also featured a case study by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) on the analysis of a health care team's modes of success rather than their modes of failure. In conjunction with the plenary meeting, the WGHOF held task group meetings on 15 October 2019 to advance its ongoing work on human and organisational performance, and organisational capabilities for decommissioning.
Stakeholder confidence in radioactive waste management
The NEA Forum on Stakeholder Confidence (FSC) held its 20th meeting during the week of 7 October 2019 and advanced its ongoing work on finalising its forthcoming report, entitled Dialogue in the Long‑term Management of Radioactive Waste. Group members continued to focus on intergenerational discussions and formed a task group to gather specific information the current methods used in order to engage younger stakeholders. They discussed preliminary outcomes from the recently‑held NEA Workshop on Stakeholder Involvement: Risk Communication , and decided to continue to advance their work in this area. In tandem with this meeting, the group also held a joint workshop with the NEA Integration Group for the Safety Case (IGSC) on "Managing Uncertainty in Siting and Implementation – Creating a Dialogue between Science and Society". The FSC and the IGSC are considering organising a third joint workshop in 2021.
Radioactive waste management
Safety case for geological repositories
The NEA Integration Group for the Safety Case (IGSC) held its annual meeting on 8‑10 October 2019 to discuss its ongoing and future activities in relation to developing safety cases for geological disposal of radioactive waste. The meeting featured two topical sessions. The first topical session on risk and uncertainty underlined the need to consider the perspectives of different stakeholders during the decision‑making process on risk and ethical uncertainties, since uncertainties will remain throughout the lifetime of a disposal system. The second topical session on updating a safety case concluded that it is necessary to have a systematic and traceable methodology documenting safety evidence and data, as the main purpose for safety case updates is to demonstrate the compliance status of a disposal system to safety requirements.
Operational safety of deep geological repositories
The NEA Expert Group on Operational Safety (EGOS) held its annual meeting on 7 October 2019 to discuss operational safety and the long‑term safety of geological disposal of radioactive waste. The meeting included a topical session with two presentations on challenges in addressing the interface between operational safety and long‑term safety. The first presentation by the Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) focused on the interaction between the pre- and post‑closure phases of geological repositories in terms of the features, events, and processes (FEP) analysis and derivation of hazards. The second presentation was delivered by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) and outlined NUMO’s challenges in maintaining pre- and post‑closure safety. In addressing these challenges, NUMO has a strategy to reduce uncertainties of post‑closure safety through the limited use of hazardous materials and their removal prior to closure.
Preparedness in case of a nuclear accident
The NEA Expert Group on Recovery Management (EGRM) held its second meeting on 1‑2 October 2019 in Bristol, United Kingdom. The group aims to assist NEA member countries in planning and improving their preparedness for recovery by providing guidance on developing post‑accident recovery management frameworks adapted to national conditions. The overall framework that will be developed by the group will help member countries improve their readiness for recovery by adopting ad hoc recovery strategies, both on technical issues (e.g., waste management, monitoring and dose assessment, food and drinking water management, trade issues) and on cross‑cutting issues (e.g., co‑expertise process, welfare issues). The meeting included a session on radioactive waste management, during which the participating experts highlighted the areas that needed more practical guidance, for example in terms of defining the location of interim or final waste disposal sites, and deriving criteria for the characterisation and classification of radioactive waste. The EGRM will organise a workshop on 18‑19 February 2020 in Japan to explore the Japanese experience in recovery management.
Indemnification of damage in the event of a nuclear accident is accepting submissions
The Fourth International Workshop on the Indemnification of Damage in the Event of a Nuclear Accident was held on 8‑10 October 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal, to continue exploring the practical application of the international nuclear liability conventions and relevant national legislations. The workshop was attended by 140 experts from 24 NEA and five non‑NEA member countries, the European Commission (EC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Participants included representatives from governments, regulatory authorities, technical support organisations, academia, judiciary, operators, suppliers, and law firms, as well as nuclear insurance pools. They addressed two important challenges: determination of the different heads of nuclear damage provided in such conventions, and transboundary claims handling. The NEA is currently preparing a report on practical workshop outputs to support member countries to be prepared with regard to the determination of nuclear damage and claims handling in the case of a nuclear accident with transboundary damage. The event was organised in association with the Instituto Superior Técnico and the Universidade de Lisboa Faculty of Law.
Applications now open for the International Nuclear Law Essentials (INLE)
The five‑day NEA International Nuclear Law Essentials (INLE) course aims to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the various interrelated legal issues relating to the safe, efficient and secure use of nuclear energy. This intensive course has been designed to accommodate the needs and interests of lawyers working in either the public or the private sectors but will also be of interest to scientists, engineers, policymakers, managers and other professionals working in the nuclear field. The next session of the INLE will take place on 17‑21 February 2020. For more information on the course and to apply, see oe.cd/INLE.
Nuclear science and data
Technology and components of accelerator‑driven systems
The fourth international NEA workshop on Technology and Components of Accelerator‑Driven Systems (TCADS‑4) was held on 14‑17 October 2019 to provide experts with a forum to present and discuss state‑of‑the‑art developments in the field of accelerator‑driven systems and neutron sources. Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) are promising tools for the efficient transmutation of nuclear waste, and are considered as a potential option for partitioning and transmutation strategies in an advanced nuclear fuel cycle. The workshop covered the R&D status of ADS including accelerators, neutron sources and sub‑critical systems for current facilities and future experimental and power systems; technology, engineering and research aspects of the above components; system optimisation for reducing capital and operational costs and the role of ADS in advanced fuel cycles. The event was hosted by the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK•CEN) in Antwerp, Belgium.
ICSBEP, SINBAD AND IRPhEP Technical Review Group meetings
The NEA International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP) , Shielding Integral Benchmark Archive and Database (SINBAD), and International Reactor Physics Experiments Evaluation Project (IRPhEP) technical review groups were set up to compile and evaluate critical, subcritical, shielding and reactor physics experimental data, into standardised benchmarks published within handbooks. These handbooks allow scientists to use experimental data for the validation of calculation tools and nuclear data libraries. The Technical Review Groups for these projects met during the week of 21 October 2019, with 45 participants from 12 member countries who reviewed six new series of experiments for the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP) Handbook , three series for SINBAD and five for the IRPhEP Handbook . Experimental data contained in these handbooks has been generated at the cost of billions of euros, and through the efforts of the technical review groups, these data can be used by NEA members to enhance the modelling and simulation tools used to design nuclear systems.
Training courses on state‑of‑the‑art computer codes
The NEA Data Bank organised two training sessions in October on the Monte Carlo N Particle Transport Code (MCNP®), which is widely used by the scientific community for radiation protection and shielding, fission and fusion reactor design, detector design and analysis, and medical physics. The two workshops attracted 24 participants from nine countries, who benefited first‑hand from the knowledge and dedication of the code developers from the MCNP® team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, United States. The first session covered the use of MCNP® on the secure cloud computing system of the Radiation Safety Computational Center (RSICC). Organised with the support of ROSATOM, this session was both the first and only course available worldwide on this subject, and provided the participants with a unique opportunity to have access to the RSICC secure cloud and advance their knowledge of MCNP®. The second session was dedicated to advanced MCNP® users looking to deepen their expertise in variance reduction techniques for the application of fixed source particle transport analysis. 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/db‑course.