Radioactive Waste Tops Agenda of Phoenix Conference
WM 2008 is the largest conference in the world dedicated to radioactive waste management. Radioactive sources sit inside a storage hanger, above. (Photo: IAEA)
A group of IAEA staff is participating in the world´s largest radioactive waste symposium this week. WM 2008 brings together over 2,000 professionals, educators and policymakers from over 40 countries to participate in meetings, paper presentations, and networking events.
The IAEA has organized grantees from developing countries to attend the conference, including representatives from Brazil, Cuba, Tanzania and South Africa. The grantees hail from Member States that have had successful source recovery operations in conjunction with the Agency.
Sessions hosted by the IAEA will focus on disused source disposal, environmental remediation, and fuel and research reactors. One session hosted by Agency staff, the Worldwide Management of Disused Spent Sources, will focus on security efforts that are driven by donor money from the Nuclear Security Fund (NSF), an extra-budgetary fund that supports the Agency´s nuclear security programme. The project has been in place since 2003, and takes a holistic view of the operational and safety aspects of source recovery.
"Radioactive sources are ubiquitous, you´ll find them everywhere. Our session at the conference is on our efforts to secure them and get these large radioactive sources under control with the end goal of making the world more secure," said Robin Heard, project manager in the Nuclear Energy Department.
Two other IAEA-based presentations include:
- A paper on the mobile hot cell, a new technology that has been developed in conjunction with South Africa to condition high-active sources in the field for transport or storage; and
- A borehole disposal system, known as "BOSS", which provides for the isolation and confinement of disused sources packaged in steel containers and placed in deep boreholes, at depths ranging from 50 to 100 meters. The system has been demonstrated feasible and safe by an international expert team.
In addition to its focus on waste management technology, the WM conference also acts as a fundraiser, generating proceeds that support nuclear education at the university level. To date, the WM conference series has raised over $2.5m for grants, scholarships and other support for students and universities.
"This is our 34th year hosting the conference, and we see it not only as a venue to provide professional development, but also as an opportunity for networking and further learning on the safe management of radioactive waste," said James Voss, the conference´s managing director. "But especially important is raising money to support education. It´s really one of the big reasons we have the conference."”
The WM conference takes place in Phoenix, Arizona from 24-28 February 2008.