By 2030, more than 300 nuclear power plants will be shut down for decommissioning. With 50% of these nuclear power plants in Europe, the decommissioning of nuclear facilities and the associated waste management poses a major challenge to the European nuclear energy sector due to the number of qualified personnel that will be required for the safe and efficient treatment and disposal of the radioactive waste.
The NEA’s Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) project BEAST aims to address this issue by targeting the researchers, post-graduate students and young professionals who are looking to work in nuclear decommissioning and waste management. The BEAST framework is based around the principles of:
The first edition of the BEAST summer school gathered 11 young professionals from four different organisations from 6-9 September at the Aachen Institute for Nuclear Training (AiNT) in Stolberg, Germany. Over four days, participants received in-depth training on topics related to characterisation for nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management through lectures, expert discussions and practical training with nuclear radiation measurement technology and gamma spectrometry software.
The first two days of the programme covered a wide range of topics delivered by the expert AiNT faculty, including the basics of nuclear physics and radiation protection, fundamentals of gamma-spectrometry, radioactive waste management, activity determination methods for decommissioning, metrology in radiation detection, clearance of residual materials and final disposal and interim waste storage in Germany. During this classroom component of the course, the fellows had the opportunity to examine case studies and engage in training simulations to enhance the practicality of the classroom lessons.
NEST BEAST summer school fellows during a class AiNT Technical Centre in Stolberg, Germany.
During the second half of the program, the students took part in an interactive lab course and then had the opportunity to receive hands-on measurement training at the AiNT Technical Centre. During their visit to the technical centre, the fellows observed different detectors and fulfilled several practical tasks, such as searching for a radioactive source, operating a gamma scanner for radioactive waste drums or the measurement of surface contamination.
This workshop gave the participants an insight into data analysis in the context of radioactive waste characterisation which was a key learning from the four-day programme.
Participant Kurt Diedrich from RWTH Aachen University’s Chair of Repository Safety said that the knowledge he gained over the four days, in addition to the connections that he made, expanded his knowledge and understanding of the decommissioning process.
“In addition to the social networking among junior researchers and professionals from across national borders, the detailed view into challenges of industry and research regarding measurement techniques and characterisation of radioactive waste was a true transfer of knowledge,” said Mr Diedrich.
Ms Barbara Ferrucci, a nuclear engineer from ENEA (Italy), also attended the programme and was impressed at the structure of the program and the breadth of topics covered in just four days.
“It has been very useful to fully understand several concepts related to the NPP decommissioning and the nuclear waste characterization’’ said Ms Ferrucci.
Managing Director of AiNT, Dr. Havenith, who is responsible for the scientific and technical content of the BEAST project, said that he was proud of the contribution that the BEAST summer school can bring to the decommissioning industry and impressed with the curious and innovative mind-set of the next generation of radiological waste experts.
“It was a pleasure to host this first summer school at AiNT. The professional exchange and discussions showed that young professionals are looking for innovative and efficient solutions for radiological characterisation. Topics like digitalisation or robot-assisted measurements for radiological characterisation are just at the beginning of their development and offer the opportunity for innovative and creative research. We look forward to hosting the summer school again next year.”
For more information on the NEA’s NEST BEAST programme, click here.