An International Conference on Storage of Spent Fuel from Power Reactors was held in Vienna from 2-6 June 2003. 125 participants (including 6 observers), representing 35 countries and 3 international organizations, attended the Conference. The country participants presented utilities, industry, licensing authorities, national management and research organizations and consultants from most countries with nuclear energy programmes.
The Conference gave an opportunity to exchange information on the state of the art and prospects of spent fuel storage, to discuss the worldwide situation and the major factors influencing the national policies in this field and to identify the most important directions that national efforts and international co-operation in this area should take.
From a global perspective, the storage capacity currently available and under construction would accommodate spent fuel arisings through 2015. While there is sufficient fuel storage capacity on a global basis, certain national situations differ and may require urgent attention. All national programmes anticipate long storage durations. Accordingly, long term storage of spent fuel is becoming a progressive reality. For additional details on global spent fuel storage click here.
All current operations in storage programmes rely on industrially mature technologies. The experts demonstrated a high level of confidence in the wet and dry storage technologies applied, the performances of the facilities and the good safety records. Risks associated with storage of power reactor fuel have been analyzed and shown to be very low and far lower than conventional industrial risks. Several presentations referred to a 100-year storage period (and even beyond). With a growth in storage duration anticipated, storage is increasingly facing the very same problems and challenges faced by disposal: involvement and stability of society, monitoring and ability to predict performance over longer time spans.
Possible IAEA initiatives following this conference include: assisting Member States in coordinating research on the long term behaviour of spent fuel; continuing exchange of information on related technology and public acceptance matters; considering broadening the scope of future conferences to include multiple interfacing issues; and collaborating on specific topical storage issues. For additional details on conference results click here.