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Radioactive Waste Management: Workshop Highlights Flexibility of IAEA's ARTEMIS Review

Decommissioning a research reactor

Decommissioning and environmental remediation are two areas within the scope of ARTEMIS reviews. Others include radioactive waste and spent fuel management. (Photo: Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH)

The IAEA’s integrated review service in the areas of radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and environmental remediation can be flexibly tailored to meet the needs of Member States, participants heard at a workshop in Vienna this month.

Delegates from 49 Member States met from 10 to13 April at a workshop on the Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation (ARTEMIS), where the benefits and practical steps involved in ARTEMIS were outlined and discussed. A representative of the European Commission, which has contributed funding to the development of ARTEMIS, also participated.

The scope of ARTEMIS reviews spans from high level policies to specific technical topics. Through ARTEMIS, a team of independent experts provides governments or organizations with consolidated advice across areas ranging from radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning of nuclear facilities, environmental remediation of radiologically contaminated sites, existing or planned national policies and strategies to regulatory frameworks.

“We have developed the ARTEMIS reviews as a holistic service with a flexible approach, so that we can adapt as best as possible to the different needs of a Member State or organization,” said Christophe Xerri, Director of the IAEA's Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Waste Technology and Research Reactors. “This will also help to identify and share good practices.”

Peter Johnston, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety, added: “This review helps countries make their own radioactive waste management practices safer, which in turn improves radiation safety globally. I hope many countries will make use of the service, which was developed to be as easy as possible to host.”

Representatives from several Member States shared their experiences of previous IAEA review missions in this field and discussed possible projects and programmes that could benefit from ARTEMIS reviews. The examples presented demonstrated the diverse potential of the ARTEMIS review service, including the reviews of an integrated approach to interim storage of higher activity waste, of siting of a disposal facility for low and intermediate waste, of a safety case of geological disposal for high level waste, and of the operation of a rare earth processing facility.

High safety standards and international good practices

The IAEA has conducted many peer reviews in the radioactive waste management field in the last decade. Building on this experience, the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy and the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security launched the ARTEMIS integrated review service in 2014. ARTEMIS reviews have already been requested by six IAEA Member States. The first mission will take place later this year in Italy, which has invited the IAEA to review its programme for decommissioning of the country’s four nuclear power plants and other nuclear fuel cycle facilities, which have been non-operational since 1987.

The review will provide important lessons for other IAEA Member States, according to Luca Desiata, managing director of SOGIN, the Italian state-owned company responsible for decommissioning nuclear plants and managing radioactive waste. “The nuclear power industry around the world is watching us because of the broad scope of Italy’s decommissioning programme, which covers nuclear power plants as well as associated fuel cycle facilities,” Desiata said. “We’d like to share our best practices with other Member States.”

Increased national and international confidence

The ARTEMIS review service is based on the IAEA safety standards, technical guidance and international good practices. It is intended for regulators, government agencies, and national policy decision makers, as well as facility operators and other implementing organizations responsible for radioactive waste management, decommissioning of nuclear facilities and remediation of sites contaminated with radioactive materials.

The benefits of ARTEMIS reviews include improved organizational performance relating to the issues under review: enhanced safety, optimized operations, strengthened credibility of decision-making process, and improved transparency and reassurance that specific projects are following the necessary safety requirements.

More details on the whole review process can be found in the ARTEMIS brochure and leaflet or on the ARTEMIS website.

IAEA panellists open the discussion at the ARTEMIS workshop on 10 April 2017. (Photo: D. Calma)

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