One of the NEA's strengths is its system of standing technical committees. These committees enable the Agency to be flexible and responsive to the changing policy needs of member countries. During the month of March 2021, the NEA Division of Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning organised a "back end week" during which the NEA Committee on Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations (CDLM), Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) and the Regulators' Forum (RF) all held their plenary meetings.
The management of radioactive waste, decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of nuclear legacy sites together comprise the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. In this context, the "back end week" facilitated information exchange among the NEA's standing technical committees and generated fruitful discussions on addressing cross-cutting issues relating to various environmental safety-related, social and technical aspects of radioactive waste management, decommissioning and legacy management. During the "back end week", the committees also reviewed the status of their ongoing work and considered potential future activities.
A key highlight of the "back end week" was the joint session of the CDLM and the RWMC, which featured national updates from member countries regarding key developments in their national radioactive waste management, decommissioning and legacy management programmes. The joint session also welcomed experts from the European Commission (EC), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Nuclear Association (WNA) who presented information on recent international developments in the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle.
The session concluded with a comprehensive discussion on management of materials obtained from the decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of legacy sites. Managing radioactive waste from the decommissioning of nuclear facilities is integral to the success of all decommissioning programmes worldwide. As nuclear facilities across the world cease operation and enter the decommissioning phase, significant volumes of radioactive waste do and will need to be managed. And the efficient use of available resources to optimally manage materials and waste is key to ensuring sustainable, safe and cost-efficient decommissioning.
In this context, the two committees agreed to identify potential areas of joint collaboration on the management of materials arising from decommissioning and legacy management activities. The collaberation will facilitate the exchange of information and best practices for the successful planning and realisation of decommissioning and legacy management projects – thereby helping to avoid imposing an undue burden on future generations.