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New IAEA Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Database Facilitates National Data Reporting and Sharing

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The cask storage hall at ZWILAG in Switzerland is used to store vitrified high-level waste from reprocessing plants and spent fuel elements from the Swiss nuclear power plants. (Photo: ZWILAG Zwischenlager Würenlingen AG)

In close cooperation with the European Commission and the OECD/NEA, the IAEA has launched a new database for spent fuel and radioactive waste that facilitates information sharing and simplifies national reporting in a single easy-to-use platform.

The Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Information System (SRIS) will provide an authoritative and integrated view of national and global spent fuel and radioactive waste inventories as well as relevant laws, regulations, policies, plans and activities. The IAEA is encouraging national authorities to take advantage of this important new tool by nominating representatives responsible for submitting data to SRIS, part of which will be available to the public and other countries using the system. So far, 38 countries have done so.

“In SRIS, countries can produce tables and reports and submit them to various organizations, including for their report to the Joint Convention, the IAEA’s Status and Trends report, to the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA) or to the European Commission for European Union members,” said Merle Lust, Waste Management Information Specialist at the IAEA. “SRIS offers a sort of ‘one-stop shop’ for countries to store, monitor and export data for various purposes, including to fulfill reporting obligations at international organizations.”

Workers examine deep water storage pools at Clab, the Central Interim Storage Facility for spent nuclear fuel from Swedish nuclear power plants. (Photo: Curt-Robert Lindqvist/SKB)

Radioactive waste is the byproduct of millions of medical procedures each year, as well as of industrial and agricultural applications that use radiation, and nuclear reactors that generate around 10% of the world’s electricity. Safely and carefully managing it is key to the sustainable use of nuclear technologies.

The IAEA fosters the application of good practices and the sharing of experience in spent fuel and radioactive waste management. The Agency provides information and guidance to countries,  encouraging them to become signatories of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management to enhance their capabilities to plan, develop and implement safe, environmentally viable and efficient spent fuel and radioactive waste management strategies. There are 83 state parties of the convention.

“The real value of SRIS is not only that it is straightforward and allows us to quickly input data,” said Myriam Lavalle, Section Head of the National Inventory of Radioactive Waste from the National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentina (CNEA). “More importantly, it will help organizations like CNEA to benchmark and make well-informed decisions in the future.”

To ensure that governments, regulatory bodies and owner/operators establish adequate and reliable spent fuel management policies, the IAEA encourages and fosters the sharing of perspectives and information on various ways to address spent fuel and radioactive waste management, providing country-specific examples and case studies.  

“There are great benefits, both for each country and for the wider world, in contributing to the new SRIS system,” said Christophe Xerri, Director of the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology at the IAEA. “Much can be gained from sharing knowledge, experiences, lessons learned and best practices.”

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