Experts Discuss Improvements in Decommissioning and Remediation Following Nuclear Accidents

The Chairperson of the International Experts Meeting, Dr. Carl-Magnus Larsson (middle), Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, and Denis Flory (left), Deputy Director General of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, brief the press following the Meetings' conclusions on 1 February 2013. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Vowing to improve plans to protect the public and the environment from radiation following potential nuclear incidents in the future, more than 200 international experts concluded a week-long Forum to share their experience and views. The International Atomic Energy Agency convened the International Experts' Meeting (IEM) on Decommissioning and Remediation After a Nuclear Accident from 28 January to 1 February 2013. The Vienna meeting was part of the Agency's implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety - endorsed by the Agency's General Conference in September 2011 - and was organized by the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and the Department of Nuclear Energy.

"This has been a very productive meeting," said Chairman Carl-Magnus Larsson, who heads the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. "We heard recommendations for the entire international community."

The discussion revolved around several themes, Larsson added, including:

  • The need for detailed frameworks to provide clear direction about which national organizations are responsible for which aspects of recovering from a nuclear accident;
  • The importance of thorough and sustainable stakeholder interaction to help develop clear lines of responsibility and constructive relationships among the institutions addressing a post-accident situation;
  • The value in formulating appropriate targets for remediation, keeping in mind the public's perception of radiation risk;
  • The need to develop methods and technologies for decommissioning and remediation, and to improve ways of making those tools widely available; and
  • The challenge of managing damaged fuel and radioactive waste following an accident.

A Role for the IAEA

Many of the participants urged the IAEA to act swiftly to review, and revise if necessary, the Agency's relevant safety standards and guidelines and to enhance the Agency's peer reviews by adding more comprehensive elements that address remediation.

"These steps are an integral part of the implementation of the Action Plan, and the results of this IEM will be invaluable for strengthening our standards and peer reviews," said IAEA Deputy Director General Denis Flory. "Actions will happen following this IEM."

Last update: 2 November 2014