The NEA Director-General and staff travelled to Romania as the country continues to increase the tempo of its various nuclear energy activities. An NEA member since 2017, Romania has two nuclear reactors generating about 20% of its electricity. Refurbishment project is currently underway for the unit 1 at Cernavodă nuclear power plant. The Romanian government has also signalled the intent to complete units 3 and 4, and is currently exploring SMR deployment options. The NEA’s work on SMRs and future co-operation were a focus of several high-level meetings that took place during the mission.
Among the areas of focus for Romania in recent years has been assuring that the country has the human resources necessary to support its growing ambitions. In that respect, Romania became the latest country to join the NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework. A formal signing ceremony between NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV and outgoing Minister of Energy of Romania Virgil-Daniel Popescu marked Romania’s adhesion. Launched in 2019, the NEST Framework helps address significant gaps in nuclear skills capacity building, knowledge transfer and technical innovation.
Director-General Magwood also visited the University of Pitești, where he discussed human resources challenges in the nuclear sector with university representatives. During a meeting with students, the Director-General delivered a lecture entitled The 21st Century Nuclear Resurgence: Opportunities and Challenges.
Aleshia Duncan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Nuclear Energy Policy and Co-operation, US Department of Energy; William D. Magwood, IV, NEA Director-General; Dumitru Chirlesan, Rector of the University of Pitești
The Director-General also met with leadership from the Politehnica University of Bucharest, where he discussed plans for the two major universities to merge and enhance their science and technology training programmes. The disucssions highlighted the possibility of a national meeting of Global Forum on Nuclear Education to discuss challenges and solutions to Romania’s nuclear skills needs. Additionally, he met with a group of Romanian high school students who have been selected to join an upcoming International Mentoring Workshop in Japan.
Workshop on Advancing Development of Disposal Solutions in Radioactive Waste Management, 14-15 June, Bucharest, Romania
This mission to Romania also focused attention on the accelerating work around the world on establishing disposal solutions for radioactive waste. Several countries have entered the licensing phase of establishing a deep geological repository (DGR), more low-level and intermediate-level disposal facilities are being constructed, and significant advances have been made with new technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs) and Generation IV reactors. At the same time, many public policymakers have emphasised the importance of nuclear power to reach net zero emissions, and key stakeholders have become more active in their support of disposal solutions.
In this context, the NEA, in co-operation with the Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Agency (ANDR) of Romania, Westinghouse and the Sustainable Fuel Association of Romania, held a workshop on Advancing Development of Disposal Solutions in Radioactive Waste Management on 14-15 June 2023 in Bucharest, Romania. The event brought together key stakeholders to discuss experiences in developing radioactive waste disposal programmes.
During his opening remarks, NEA Director-General Magwood highlighted the role of international co-operation in addressing challenges related to radioactive waste management.
“With the resurgence of nuclear programmes and new projects to address climate and energy security issues, the waste issue remains one of key importance for NEA countries around the world,” said Director-General Magwood. “The route to establishing strong and effective radioactive waste management programmes is a long and challenging one. It takes a lot of analysis and a very careful process to be able to decide whether a particular site and facility are appropriate for a particular type of waste. This is a prerequisite to ensure safe disposal of waste and there are many countries around the world that provide good examples of how to do this.”
Florin Spătaru, Minister of Economy, Romania; Tarik Choho, President of Nuclear Fuel Business Unit, Westinghouse; Mihăiță Găină, President of ANDR; Ramona Popescu, Director General, ANDR; William D. Magwood, IV, NEA Director-General
The visit to Romania coincided with the rotation of the government which provided an opportunity to meet with the outgoing and incoming officials. Director-General Magwood met with Cătălin Predoiu, interim Prime Minister and current Vice Prime Minister; Sebastian Burduja, current Minister of Energy and former Minister of Digitalisation and Research; Adrian Tutuianu, Deputy General Secretary of the Government of Romania; and Luca Niculescu, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.