Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management are meeting in May to review national reports describing how their obligations under the Joint Convention are being implemented. A process of "peer review" will allow Parties to discuss in detail safety measures taken to implement the Joint Convention.
More than 500 delegates from 48 Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention are expected to take part in the the third review meeting, which is being held 11-20 May 2009 at the IAEA. Each Party will present its own national report and it will answer questions on it from other Parties. The national report is expected to explain how the country is complying with, or planning to comply with, the Convention´s 25 technical Articles. The outcome of the discussions will be recorded in a publicly available summary report agreed upon by the Contracting Parties.
Previous review meetings have identified areas where significant progress has been made, particularly in the establishment of holistic waste management policies that includes decommissioning and management of legacy waste. Challenges have also been identified over the long term, such as the management of spent fuel, the disposal of high-level radioactive waste and the need to find suitable disposal options for all types of radioactive waste.
The 48 Contracting Parties are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
The Joint Convention, which entered into force in June 2001, is relevant for all IAEA Member States, since radioactive material is widely used in medicine, research, and industries. Those States that are now planning to initiate nuclear programmes are strongly encouraged to ratify both the Joint Convention and the Convention on Nuclear Safety as a first step in the delineation of their safety infrastructure.
The Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the first legal instrument to directly address these topics on a global scale, was opened for signature 29 September 1997. It entered into force 18 June 2001.
The Joint Convention applies to spent fuel and radioactive waste resulting from civilian nuclear reactors and applications and to spent fuel and radioactive waste from military or defence programmes if and when such materials are transferred permanently to and managed within exclusively civilian programmes, or when declared as spent fuel or radioactive waste for the purpose of the Convention by the Contracting Party. The Convention also applies to planned and controlled releases into the environment of liquid or gaseous radioactive materials from regulated nuclear facilities.
The Convention calls for review meetings of Contracting Parties. Each Contracting Party is required to submit a national report to each review meeting that addresses measures taken to implement each of the obligations of the Convention.