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Nuclear Regulators Exchange Experiences on the Review of Safety Cases for Radioactive Waste Disposal

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Attendees of the interregional meeting pose for a group photo (Photo: D.G. Bennett/IAEA)

Radioactive sources have many beneficial uses (e.g. in industry, agriculture and medicine), and they are widely used around the world. When such radioactive sources reach the end of their lifespans, however, and no longer emit sufficient radiation for their intended purposes, how should regulators consider proposals for their disposal? This question was the main focus of an IAEA meeting, hosted by the Greek Atomic Energy Commission, held in Athens, Greece from 16 to 19 October under the framework of an ongoing, interregional technical cooperation (TC) project[1].

The purpose of the meeting was to enhance participants’ understanding of the safety case for radioactive waste disposal, focusing on disposal of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS), and to provide training on regulatory review of such safety cases. The event addressed concepts for DSRS disposal, post-closure safety assessment, the safety case for disposal facilities, the role of the regulatory body and post-closure safety assessments. The meeting also provided the opportunity to conduct practical training exercises on regulatory review, using materials available from real examples of such safety cases and safety assessments.

In exploring the options for the disposal of DSRS, and by studying real examples, participants enhanced their capacities to review and consider proposals by operators for the licensing of disposal facilities.

Each example presented specific challenges in the areas of engineered barrier performance, safety assessment scenarios, and the sensitivity of assessment outcomes to assumptions. These exercises revealed potential pitfalls and ways to overcome them through rigorous regulatory review.

The meeting was attended by regulators from 15 countries: Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Philippines, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey.

https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/eu.jpg?itok=CMDBcjR6

 

 

Project INT/9/182 is conducted by the IAEA, with funding from the European Union.

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[1] INT9182, ‘Sustaining Cradle-to-Grave Control of Radioactive Sources’

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