An annual meeting of the International Radioactive Waste Technical Committee (WATEC) has commenced at the IAEA Headquarters in Vienna. The meeting from 1 to 4 April 2014 covers a range of important issues and methods relating to the safe and secure disposal of radioactive waste. It also provides a platform to foster information exchange on current issues in the area of radioactive waste management (RWM) and on the advances made in science and technology in this field.
Radioactive waste is an expected residue from the use of radioactive materials in industry, research and medicine, as well as from the use of nuclear power to generate electricity. The management and disposal of such waste is an issue relevant to almost all countries. In this context, the strategies and techniques for the safe management of the various types of waste arising from the different applications are important for the whole international community.
Welcoming the participants on behalf of the IAEA, Chairperson of the annual WATEC meeting, Mr. Enrique Biurrun from Germany, noted the significance of the safe and secure management of radioactive waste, which, if not handled carefully, could have far reaching global implications.
Juan Carlos Lentijo, Director of the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology in the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy, drew attention to the importance of this meeting for the work of the IAEA in providing enhanced services to Member States to improve the safe and secure management of radioactive waste. Mr. Lentijo also mentioned that the Scientific Forum to be held during the IAEA's 58th General Conference in September 2014 would focus on waste management.
The Director of the Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety in the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, Pil-Soo Hahn, said that issues to be covered at the meeting will also include an overview of the IAEA's RWM programme, as well as the issues and trends in waste management, decommissioning and environmental remediation in WATEC Member States. Mr. Hahn stressed that the various technologies used for the disposal of radioactive waste must stringently adhere to safety and security considerations and that the meeting would also provide an opportunity to assess such aspects of technology.
The topical sessions scheduled for this event are concentrating on:
- Inventories of radioactive waste and spent fuel
- Embarking Nuclear Power Countries/Nuclear "Newcomers"
- Management of large amounts of waste
In addition, two panel discussions are scheduled:
A panel discussion on the Waste Technology Section (WTS) Networks is aimed at raising a wider awareness on the work being done in relation to RWM. This will provide an opportunity to discuss evolving concepts on RWM, lessons learnt as well as disseminating proven technologies and information on training activities.
The second panel discussion will focus on the IAEA's decommissioning and remediation missions to Japan in 2013. This will feature a summary of the issues, findings and the advice that have been provided by the IAEA to the Government of Japan.
The International Radioactive Waste Technical Committee (WATEC) is a working group of senior international experts that provide advice to the IAEA on radioactive waste management programme activities and directions, and support its implementation.
The 20 members of WATEC are appointed by the Deputy Director General and Head of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy for a period of four years.
WATEC Members are recognized experts from various fields of radioactive waste management, decommissioning, and environmental remediation. The membership is not only geographically diverse but also contains members from both countries with nuclear programmes and countries with non-power nuclear applications.
To facilitate international coordination, representatives of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the European Commission, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and World Nuclear Association (WNA) are invited to attend WATEC meetings as observers.