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Focus on the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management at the 7th Joint Convention Review Meeting

More than 750 delegates representing 76 Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management are at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna to share experiences and lessons learned from the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. This Seventh Joint Convention Review Meeting was originally scheduled for 2021, but was postponed from June 27 to July 8 this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the next two weeks, the Contracting Parties will present and discuss their National Reports so that, through a constructive exchange of views, they can learn from each other about solutions to common and individual security issues related to the management of the spent fuel and radioactive waste, and contribute to achieving and maintaining a high level of safety worldwide.

Hans Wanner, Chair of the Seventh Review Meeting, Switzerland, welcomed the Contracting Parties, noting that the many nations and cultures that have come together provide a unique opportunity to exchange and learn from each other. . He recalled that the Contracting Parties were here now to fulfill the most important obligation of the Convention, namely to carry out an effective, rigorous and transparent peer review which will lead to the identification of measures to strengthen further nuclear safety on a global scale.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stressed the relevance of the Convention not only for countries with a major nuclear power program, but for any country using radioactive sources. “More and more patients are receiving life-saving cancer treatment. More and more countries are using nuclear science and technology to support their sustainable development goals, and more and more countries are turning to nuclear energy to address the climate and energy crisis,” he said. he stated in his opening remarks. “The use of nuclear materials is increasing. We are here today to ensure that spent fuel and resulting radioactive waste is managed safely, in accordance with Joint Convention obligations and international safety standards,” he said.

“Good policies are not enough. They only work if they are implemented,” Grossi added. In this context, he also stressed the importance of resolutely cultivating public trust over the long term.

Since the last Review Meeting in 2018, 10 new Contracting Parties have joined the Joint Convention, bringing the total number to 88. high in the world. said M. Grossi. “Radioactive waste concerns all countries.

Mr. Grossi also briefed delegates on preliminary IAEA discussions to support Ukraine, as appropriate, including in the safe management of radioactive sources, in particular disused and orphan sources. “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 expertise; and teams are also ready to travel to Ukraine to provide on-site assistance in areas such as source recovery and consolidation, and the safe and secure transport of radioactive sources to centralized storage facilities.

The Joint Convention, in force since 2001 under the auspices of the IAEA, is the only legally binding international instrument dealing with the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management on a global scale.

During the Review Meeting, the Contracting Parties will also participate in an open-ended working group to discuss procedural and other matters relating to the operation of the Convention, and will share their experiences and lessons learned during a thematic session on stakeholder engagement in management. radioactive waste from dismantling activities and former sites.

“A major objective of the review is, through robust and candid discussion, to identify good practices, areas of good performance, suggestions, challenges or other issues that may be an overriding common issue that should be highlighted as important for improving security,” said Nelli Aghajanyan, Joint Convention Coordinator.

Last year marked the 20e anniversary of the entry into force of the joint convention.

Further information, including summary reports of meetings as well as National Reports of Contracting Parties from previous review cycles, is available on the Joint Convention’s public website.

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.