7th Joint Convention Review Meeting Focuses on Safety of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management
More than 750 delegates from 76 Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management have gathered at the International Atomic Energy Agency's headquarters in Vienna to share their experiences and lessons learned in safely managing spent fuel and radioactive waste.
Contracting Parties will present and discuss their national reports over the next two weeks to learn from one another about solutions to common and individual safety issues related to spent fuel and radioactive waste management, and contribute to achieving and maintaining a high level of safety globally.
The Contracting Parties were welcomed by Hans Wanner, President of the Seventh Review Meeting from Switzerland, who said that the different nationalities and cultures that have come together give a rare opportunity to exchange and learn from one another.
He reminded the Contracting Parties were here now to fulfil the Convention's most essential commitment, namely to conduct an effective, rigorous, and transparent peer review that will result in the identification of steps to further strengthen nuclear safety internationally.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, said: "More patients are getting life-saving cancer treatment. More countries are using nuclear science and technology to support their sustainable development goals, and more countries are turning to nuclear energy to address the climate and energy crisis.
"The use of nuclear material is rising. We are here today to ensure that the ensuing spent fuel and radioactive waste are managed safely, under the obligations of the Joint Convention and international safety standards."
"Good policies alone will not suffice. They only function if they are put into action," Mr Grossi noted. In this sense, he also emphasised the significance of consistently fostering public trust over time.
Ten additional Contracting Parties have joined the Joint Convention since the last Review Meeting in 2018, increasing the total to 88. "We must redouble our efforts to increase the number of Contracting Parties so that we can achieve a higher level of safety globally," added Mr Grossi. "All countries are concerned about radioactive waste."
He further added, “Our experts are available to provide immediate remote assistance, for example, to support the verification of the inventory of radioactive sources or for the provision of technical assessments; and teams are also ready to travel to Ukraine to deliver on-site support in areas such as source recovery and consolidation, and the safe and secure transportation of radioactive sources to centralized storage facilities.”
The Joint Convention, which has been in effect since 2001 under the aegis of the IAEA, is the sole international legally binding treaty addressing the global safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management.
Contracting Parties will also participate in an open-ended working group to discuss procedural and other issues relevant to the operation of the Convention, as well as share their experiences and lessons learned in a topical session on stakeholder engagement in the management of radioactive waste from decommissioning activities and legacy sites during the review meeting.
Nelli Aghajanyan, Coordinator of the Joint Convention, said: "A major objective of the review is, through robust and candid discussion, to identify any good practices, areas of good performance, suggestions, challenges or other issues that may be an overarching common issue that should be highlighted as important to improving safety."