Radioactive waste is an inevitable residue from the use of radioactive materials in
industry, research and medicine and from the use of nuclear power to generate
electricity. The management and disposal of such waste is therefore an issue
relevant to almost all countries. The strategies and techniques for the safe
management of the various types of waste arising from the different applications
are well established and extensive experience has been obtained in most areas.
However, there are a number of issues and problems which still need to be resolved.
Some of these are considered in the following paragraphs.
Some technical issues, related to the underground disposal of waste, still remain to
be resolved, for example, related to determining the safety implications of providing
for the retrieval of waste from repositories, making the case for safety in the long-term
future and, providing for the long-term monitoring and surveillance of waste repositories
and for the retention of knowledge concerning their existence.
In some countries surface storage of radioactive waste is being seen as a long-term
management strategy mainly because of the delays and difficulties in establishing
underground repositories. At the same time questions are being raised concerning the
safety and sustainability of such an approach.
The long-lived nature of some types of radioactive waste and the associated safety
implications of disposal plans have raised concern amongst those who may be affected
by such facilities. For these reasons the subject of radioactive waste management has
taken on a high profile in many countries. Over the years many lessons have been learned
and, nowadays, a recognized important common feature in all programmes is the involvement
of concerned parties or “stakeholders” in the process of decision making with respect to
repository siting and development.
Small amounts of radioactive waste exist in almost all countries and while management
solutions are readily available for most of the waste types, the management of some types
of small volume highly active and long lived waste, for example disused sealed sources
and research reactor fuel, can present a problem, especially for smaller countries with
limited resources. It is an area in which there are several on-going international initiatives
aimed at finding economic and safe management solutions.
Policies on the discharge of low-level gaseous and liquid radioactive effluents are coming
under review in some parts of the world and there are moves to reduce discharges ever
closer to zero. In this context, the OSPAR Convention is bringing about changes to the
effluent discharge policies of many European countries. It remains to be seen whether
these trends will be followed in other parts of the world.
Radioactive waste residues from a past era still remain to be rendered safe. Examples are
the residues from previous activities concerned with the mining and milling of uranium and thorium
and the processing and use of radium which still exist often in an untreated state. There are
problems concerned with finding technically appropriate means of disposal which would be
at the same time economic and safe in the long term. Another related issue concerns the need
to bring certain older storage and disposal systems which were designed and operated to earlier
standards up to the standards of today.
Many of these concerns will be addressed, at least in part, by the international safety regime which
has gradually come into being comprising a specific international legal instrument addressing the
international safety of radioactive waste (the Joint Convention), internationally endorsed safety
standards (the RADWASS standards) and programmes of review, advice and assistance
facilitated by the IAEA.
The objective of the Conference is to foster information exchange on current issues in
the area of radioactive waste management and to promote international coherence on
strategies and criteria for their resolution.
3. SCOPE OF THE CONFERENCE
The following main topics will be addressed:
- progress on implementing the geological disposal of radioactive waste - what remains to
be done and what are the remaining issues?
- long term radioactive waste storage - a sustainable solution? - current national and international policies;
- decision making in radioactive waste management - involvement of stakeholders;
- the management of small amounts of “problem” waste, including disused sealed sources and
spent research reactor fuel - current issues and solutions;
- policies on the discharge of low level effluents - status and trends;
- retention of knowledge concerning radioactive waste disposal - what mechanisms can be put in place?
- the management of radioactive waste from past eras, older storage and disposal systems - the
situation and the solutions;
- the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive
Waste Management - what can be achieved through this mechanism?
- standards and regulations for radioactive waste management - where is consensus lacking?
The Conference covers a broad spectrum of professional disciplines (including radioactive
waste management, environmental science, radiation protection, and radiological assessment),
and therefore those attending the Conference are expected to include government officials,
senior policy makers, persons from regulatory bodies including associated external technical
experts, persons responsible for implementing radioactive waste management including
associated external experts.
5. PROGRAMME STRUCTURE
The Conference programme will be based on the following approach:
- An opening session will set the Conference objectives and provide background information
on the issues and trends in the management of radioactive waste.
- A sequence of topical sessions will examine the relevant issues. The major issues in each session
will be introduced by senior experts. Ample time for discussion will be provided. Panel sessions
will provide an opportunity for a more intensive exchange of views on important safety issues with
the audience. Appointed chairpersons will draw conclusions from the presentations and discussions.
- Poster sessions will be organized for presentation of contributed papers.
- A closing session will summarize the principal observations made during the Conference.
Anyone wishing to participate in the Conference must send a completed Participation Form
(attached) to the appropriate government authority for subsequent transmission to the IAEA. A
participant will be accepted only if the Participation Form is transmitted to the IAEA by one of the
official channels (see Section 9). Further details on the logistics of the conference will be sent well
in advance to all participants whose official designation has been received.
7. CONTRIBUTED PAPERS AND POSTERS
Contributions to the Conference, in the form of concise papers not exceeding four pages in length,
are welcome. These papers will not be presented orally but will be printed in the book of contributed
papers, which will be distributed to all participants upon registration at the Conference. Contributed
papers must be submitted in English and each contributed paper must be preceded by an abstract,
not exceeding 300 words. Authors of contributed papers are also encouraged to present the substance
of their paper in the form of a Poster. Guidelines for the Preparation of a Contributed Paper are given
in the attached “IAEA Guidelines for Authors on the Preparation of Manuscripts for Proceedings” and
the “IAEA Guidelines for the Preparation of a Poster”.
The contributed papers must be submitted through one of the official channels (see Section 9) together
with the completed Participation Form and the Form for Submission of a paper (Form B). Authors
should state to which technical session topic their contribution relates (see Section 3). In addition to
the official submission, an electronic version of the contributed paper, in Word, is required and must
be sent by e-mail to [email protected] or sent on diskette to the Scientific Secretariat
(see Section 14). The diskette label should identify the paper, the topic and the application used.
To permit selection and review, these items must be received at the Scientific Secretariat not later than