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Review Meeting of Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management Wraps Up

Closing Session

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (centre) addressed the participants at the closing session of the Fifth Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, which concluded at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna on 22 May 2015. (Photo: G. Siraky/IAEA)

Staffing, implementing holistic management strategies and increasing public engagement were among the overarching issues at the Fifth Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, which concluded at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna today.

In force since 2001, the Joint Convention seeks to achieve and maintain a high level of worldwide safety in spent fuel and radioactive waste management. To further that goal, Contracting Parties deliver national reports on their implementation of the convention's obligations that are discussed and debated as part of a peer-review process during review meetings held every three years.

The Review Meeting's president, David Huizenga of the United States, thanked the more than 600 delegates from 61 Contracting Parties who attended the meeting "for their dedicated efforts to enhance the level of safety in radioactive waste and spent fuel management and their constructive discussions at the meeting." 

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano congratulated participants for their "productive" 12 days of "hard work", adding that "the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste is vital to global nuclear safety" and that supporting it "is one of the main activities of the IAEA." Read his full statement here.

For the first time, a topical session was organized at the Review Meeting. It focused on the consequences of accidents at nuclear installations and on IAEA activities in relation to the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The IAEA's report on that accident in Japan was delivered to Member States last week. Mr Amano said he hoped the report will "help ensure that lessons learned can be acted upon by governments, regulators and nuclear power plant operators throughout the world."

The Joint Convention's peer review process provides Contracting Parties with a chance to evaluate and discuss in detail safety measures taken to implement its obligations as well as identify any emerging issues.

At the Joint Convention's previous review meeting in 2012, Contracting Parties agreed that the national reports for the 2015 review meeting should also include discussions on the management of sealed sources, the safety implications of extended storage periods and the delayed disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste, and international cooperation to find effective solutions to the long-term management and disposal of different types of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

In his statement, Huizenga said four specific issues emerged over the last two weeks that will be highlighted at the next review process:

  • Personnel staffing, availability of funding, and other human resource areas;
  • Maintaining or increasing public involvement and engagement on waste management, to instil public confidence and acceptance;
  • Developing and implementing a holistic and sustainable management strategy for radioactive waste and spent fuel at an early stage; and
  • Management of disused sealed sources.

At the opening of the Review Meeting on 11 May 2015, IAEA Deputy Director General Denis Flory, head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, called on countries that have not done so to sign the Joint Convention to help enhance global nuclear safety. Contracting Parties echoed that call, encouraging IAEA Member States to join the Joint Convention and recommending future actions aimed at strengthening the review process, according to Mr Huizenga's statement.

"The Joint Convention plays an essential role in the establishment of a comprehensive global nuclear safety and security framework," Mr Amano said. "I look forward to the day when all IAEA Member States are Contracting Parties and participate fully in the review process. The IAEA will do what it can to help achieve this goal."

Last update: 26 July 2017

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