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Joint Convention Review Meeting Identifies Overarching Issues

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More than 850 delegates, representing 69 of the 78 Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention, gathered at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, from 21 May to 1 June 2018. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management agreed on shared priorities at its 6th Review Meeting, which finished today. Overarching issues identified by the Contracting Parties included implementing national strategies for spent fuel and radioactive waste management, reviewing the safety implications of the long-term management of spent fuel, linking long-term management and disposal of disused sealed radioactive sources, and remediating legacy sites and facilities.

Work in these areas will be ongoing in the next three years, said Bismark Tyobeka, President of the 6th Review Meeting, and Chief Executive Officer of South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator. “I will endeavour during the remainder of this review cycle to distil the lessons from this review meeting and contribute to further enhancing the robustness of the peer review process and safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management in general,” he said.

The peer review process provides Contracting Parties with the opportunity for evaluation and detailed discussion of those safety measures that have been implemented to meet their obligations under the Convention as well as to identify emerging issues.

“I was very pleased to note the significant progress many of the Contracting Parties have made in implementing their national programmes and enhancing the safety of radioactive waste management and spent fuel management,” Mr Tyobeka said, reminding the Contracting Parties of the importance of continuous improvement.

The meeting also featured two topical sessions. In the first, delegates debated recent developments and challenges in the safe management of disused sealed radioactive sources. In the second session, delegates focused on safety issues, challenges and the public acceptance aspects associated with the storage and disposal of higher-level radioactive waste. delegates expressed their commitment to furthering the safety and security of disused sealed radioactive sources as well as to support the implementation of the management of high-level radioactive waste around the world.

For the first time, two countries that have signed but not ratified the Joint Convention — Lebanon and the Philippines — and one Non-Contracting Party operating a nuclear power plant — Iran — were invited to attend, as observers, the opening plenary session and the part of the closing plenary session where the Summary Report was adopted.

During the closing plenary sessions, the Contracting Parties agreed to convene an Extraordinary Meeting in 2020 to discuss possible ways to improve procedural mechanisms of the Joint Convention.

At the opening of the Review Meeting on 21 May 2018, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano called on IAEA Member States that have not done so to become parties to both the Joint Convention and the Convention on Nuclear Safety to further the goal of strengthening global nuclear safety.

In his closing remarks, IAEA Deputy Director General Juan Carlos Lentijo, Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, congratulated the more than 850 delegates, representing 69 of the 78 Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention, for their intensive work during the two-week meeting.

“This Review Meeting confirmed the progress made in the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste,” Mr Lentijo said. “We will continue to encourage all Member States to become Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention.”

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