Waste Technology Section

Environmental Remediation


Objective:

To increase the capability of Member States to plan and implement proper infrastructure and technologies for managing their radioactive legacies; resolve related issues in a timely, safe and cost-effective manner; and avoid creating new contamination and the need for extensive post-operational remediation by adopting appropriate environmental management practices.

Responsible Officer : Horst MONKEN-FERNANDES

Rationale:

In the past, many nuclear activities were developed without deep consideration of environmental issues in the overall planning and implementation of their operations. In addition to this many of these operations took place in an environment that did not have appropriate or effective environmental laws and regulations. As a result, many contaminated sites have been created. Several contaminated sites were also created by nuclear and radiological accidents. Costs to remediate these sites can vary by several orders of magnitude and the capacity the different countries will have to cope with these challenges will also vary.

Contaminated sites can ultimately lead to undesired health effects for members of the public and the environment. Environmental remediation is the implementation of any measure to reduce the radiation exposure from contamination of land areas or other contaminated media, such as surface- or groundwater. However, environmental remediation should not only be left for the end of operations. On the contrary, it should be integrated into any industrial development from the beginning, with continuous management over the operational life-cycle to avoid contamination of the environment and also extensive post-operational remediation work.

As a result, countries need timely and accurate information on available remediation strategies and technologies, management options, planning strategies, and guidance in dealing with non-technical factors, e.g., communication and stakeholder involvement. The task of the IAEA is to make all this information available and help its Member States to adopt the appropriate practices to resolve their environmental liabilities and avoid the generation of new contaminated sites.

 

Major Activities

Implementation of environmental remediation programmes involve a set of technical and non-technical components that need to be considered and integrated in order to produce a feasible and effective action plan. Environmental issues have gained a lot of momentum as a result of the need mankind has to use clean energy generation outputs. By virtue of its low CO2 output, there is strong worldwide interest in Nuclear Power, which has led to the so-called ´Nuclear Renaissanceˇ. The need for nuclear fuel to power these yet-to-be-build reactors has triggered an increase in uranium exploration and development with the implementation of new uranium production centres, enhancement on the production of existing facilities, and reactivation of formerly closed operations. This presents a new challenge to the IAEA and its Member States that we are tackling by means of developing new technical publications, technical cooperation projects, long-distance training, and establishment of networking as a way to expedite and increase the transfer and exchange of information and experience in environmental remediation.

For more information, see the pages below:


For Environmental Remediation-related IAEA publications, go to the

Environmental Remediation Publications Page