New at the NEA
Trust is essential for effective risk communication
Stakeholder involvement is key to achieving decisions that are accepted and sustainable for the use of nuclear energy and technologies. To this end, and as a follow‑up to the 2017 Workshop on Stakeholder Involvement in Nuclear Decision Making, the NEA held the Workshop on Stakeholder Involvement: Risk Communication on 24‑26 September 2019 to shed light on the complex challenges and best practices of communicating issues related to radiological risk. The workshop opened with video remarks from the OECD Secretary‑General Angel Gurría. Keynote remarks were delivered by H.E. Minister János Süli, Hungary's Minister without Portfolio, responsible for the Paks Nuclear Power Plant expansion, and Hon. Stefano Vignaroli, Member of Parliament and President of the Waste Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy. Through panel discussions and interactive sessions, the workshop served to support 170 officials from 36 countries in identifying and developing the tools and approaches needed to foster dialogue and shared understanding of radiological risks between officials, experts and stakeholders.
The event brought together nuclear regulators, government agencies, elected officials, operators and representatives of civil society, including ordinary citizens and NGOs. Hearing stakeholders' concerns and viewpoints was a key highlight of the workshop, with a special session featuring a school administrator and high school students from Fukushima Prefecture who shared their candid views about radiological risk communication in the context of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis and its aftermath. Many discussions highlighted that building trust is essential for effective risk communication through local and long‑term engagement. Chairs and representatives of NEA Standing Technical Committees indicated that their committees would discuss possible follow‑up actions identified by the workshop. A summary report of the workshop and its outcomes is currently in preparation.
Committee of the Italian Parliament visits the NEA
An Italian delegation led by the Honorary Stefano Vignaroli, President of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Illegal Activities related to the Waste Cycle and for Related Environmental Crimes, visited the NEA on 27 September 2019 for high‑level discussions on radioactive waste and decommissioning. Discussions also touched on the NEA activities in the area of nuclear technology education, including the NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework. Mr Vignaroli's visit enabled detailed exchanges of information and ideas, and his remarks at the NEA Workshop on Stakeholder Involvement: Risk Communication highlighted the important policy aspects of public communication.
NEA and OECD support for Fukushima
The NEA and the OECD, together with the government of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture and the Fukushima Innovation Coast Framework Promotion Organisation (FIPO), are organising a series of Policy Dialogues on Developing Decommissioning Industry Clusters in Fukushima. The aim is to contribute to the long‑term sustainable development of the area and local economy. As part of this dialogue series, the NEA and the OECD co‑organised a meeting on 26‑27 September 2019 to explore ways to enhance decommissioning capability, improve quality of life and boost local job creation in the Fukushima region during the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Following the two‑day meeting, participants also met with representatives from SHINSEI, a local non‑profit organisation based in Koriyama, Fukushima. SHINSEI provides training and job placement assistance to people with disabilities who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The participants also spent time with evacuees with disabilities to understand the impact of the 2011 accident on the current living standards of those who have special needs. They also took the opportunity to discuss how to enhance the sustainability of local communities.
The NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology Framework
Nuclear skills and education are an increasingly important challenge for NEA member countries, all of which need to have a new generation of highly-qualified scientists and engineers to ensure the continued safe and efficient use of nuclear technologies for a wide range of industrial, scientific and medical purposes. The NEA has therefore developed the NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework, which held its second Management Board meeting on 13 September 2019. During this meeting, board members discussed policies and strategies to fully implement and further enlarge the NEST Framework and explored ideas on how to enhance the role of universities and private organisations in the submission and participation of NEST projects. They reviewed the NEST Programme of Work, monitoring and evaluation processes, and the status of ongoing and upcoming projects. The board members also welcomed more co‑operation with the education and training activities co‑ordinated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC).
Nuclear safety technology and regulation
External hazards and the safety of nuclear installations
The NEA Working Group on External Events (WGEV) met on 3‑5 September 2019 in Lyon, France. The main mission of the WGEV is to improve the understanding and treatment of external hazards that would support the continued safety performance of nuclear installations, and improve the effectiveness of regulatory practices in NEA member countries. During the meeting, participants discussed the first draft of a technical report on concepts and definitions for protective measures in response to external flooding hazards. They reviewed the current status of the new activity on high wind and tornado - hazard assessment and protection of nuclear installations. They also discussed the forthcoming NEA study on nuclear power and adaptation to climate change. The meeting was hosted by EDF.
NEA hosts the ICRP Special Liaison Organisations meeting
For many years the NEA has been in active dialogue with the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), an independent body that develops recommendations to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation. The ICRP has established formal relations with organisations that address radiological protection in order to ensure that its recommendations take into account address stakeholder concerns. These "Special Liaison Organisations" convene periodically to present their views on specific questions of radiological significance. The NEA hosted the most recent meeting of the 17 ICRP Special Liaison Organisations at its headquarters on 17 September 2019. Participants discussed views on individual sensitivity and radon management. They also exchanged views on radiological protection evolution.
Radioactive waste management
Examining argillaceous rocks for deep disposal of radioactive waste
The NEA Clay Club held its annual meeting on 3‑5 September 2019 in Toronto, hosted by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Canada. The NEA Clay Club was established in 1990 to examine technical and scientific issues of various argillaceous rocks for hosting deep geological repositories for long-lived radioactive waste. During this meeting, participants acknowledged and accepted the German Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) as a new member. Participants also reviewed the Club's ongoing activities, including the CLAYWAT Project, which has been investigating the binding state of pore water in clays and shales, and is now approaching completion. A key highlight of this meeting was an in-depth discussion on the evolution of excavation damage zones (EDZ) and the potential impacts of EDZ on the long-term behaviours of deep geological repositories in sedimentary clay formations. Recognising the importance of this topic, the Club plans to further explore this area in the future.
Decommissioning and legacy management
Costing decommissioning and legacy management
The recently‑established NEA Committee on Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations and Legacy Management (CDLM) held an ad hoc meeting of costing experts on 9‑11 September 2019 with the objective to support the ongoing development of the CDLM programme of work for costing decommissioning and legacy management. The meeting was attended by 32 experts, including regulators, government officials, decommissioning and legacy management specialists, operators and implementers. The participants discussed potential costing issues that could be addressed by the CDLM and identified priorities along with possible working arrangements. The main conclusions from this meeting and participant recommendations will be presented to the CDLM Bureau for consideration to create an expert group on costing decommissioning and legacy management.
Nuclear science and data
Nuclear criticality safety
Organised by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) under the auspices of the NEA, the eleventh edition of the quadrennial International Conference on Nuclear Criticality Safety (ICNC) was held on 15‑20 September 2019 in Paris with 300 participating experts. During his welcoming remarks, NEA Director‑General Magwood emphasised the importance of maintaining the highest standard of safety throughout all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle. In conjunction with the ICNC, a workshop was held for NEA databases and tools on nuclear criticality safety. The workshop featured lectures on the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP) and the ICSBEP Handbook, as well as hands‑on training on the Database for the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (DICE), the Nuclear Data Sensitivity Tool (NDaST) and SFCOMPO 2.0.
During the week following the ICNC, the NEA Working Party on Nuclear Criticality Safety (WPNCS) held its annual meetings with more than 60 experts from 13 member countries. Participants discussed technical and scientific issues on a variety of topics, including criticality excursions analyses, modelling of used nuclear fuel depletion, Monte Carlo modelling and uncertainty analysis for criticality safety assessments.
International criticality safety benchmark evaluation project (ICSBEP)
The 2019 edition of the International Handbook of Evaluated Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiments contains criticality safety benchmark specifications that have been derived from experiments performed at various critical facilities around the world. It presents evaluated criticality safety benchmark data in nine volumes that span over 70 000 pages. The handbook contains 574 evaluations with benchmark specifications for 4 973 critical, near‑critical or subcritical configurations, 45 criticality alarm placement/shielding configurations with multiple dose points for each, and 237 configurations that have been categorised as fundamental physics measurements that are relevant to criticality safety applications. Requests to obtain the DVD or online access should be made by completing the online form.
Training courses on state‑of‑the‑art computer codes
The NEA Data Bank organised a workshop on 16‑20 September 2019 on the Particle and Heavy Ion Transport code System (PHITS) version 3.10. PHITS is a general‑purpose Monte Carlo particle transport simulation code which can carry out the transport of all particles over wide energy ranges, using several nuclear reaction models and nuclear data libraries. It has applications in accelerator technology, radiotherapy, space radiation, and in many other fields which are related to particle and heavy ion transport phenomena. The workshop attracted 12 participants from eight countries, who benefited first hand from the knowledge and dedication of one of the code developers from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). The NEA Data Bank Computer Program Services organises several training sessions every year, contributing to the dissemination of state‑of‑the‑art codes and engaging the nuclear community. These week‑long courses provide a unique opportunity to bring together code users from around the globe and facilitate exchanges on the use of computer codes. Further information on the NEA Data Bank training courses is available at oe.cd/db‑course.
Third edition of the TDB workshop on thermodynamic data collection and assessment
The NEA Data Bank organised a one‑day course on thermodynamic data collection and assessment on 14 September 2019, in conjunction with the Migration 2019 conference in Kyoto, Japan. The course was attended mainly by doctoral students, as well as by professors, postdoctoral researchers and experts representing waste management organisations and regulatory bodies. The third edition of this annual workshop series included a new session on the implementer's perspective. The series is designed to familiarise scientists in the field with current NEA Thermochemical Database (TDB) Project activities, guidelines and standards, to provide an overview of data collection and analysis techniques, and to work through some real system examples to demonstrate the critical evaluation and data assessment process. The course was organised with the assistance of Kyoto University and in collaboration with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) Institute for Nuclear Waste Disposal (INE), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Amphos 21 Consulting.