RF plenary meeting 2024

Participants of the Regulators' Forum plenary meeting in Paris, France.

The NEA Division of Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning (RWMD) convened its annual “Back-End Week” at the NEA headquarters on 18-22 March 2024. The event gathered more than 100 participants from 23 member countries, as well as representatives from the European Commission, the IAEA and EPRI. Throughout the week, plenary meetings were held for the Regulators’ Forum (RF), the NEA Committee on Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations and Legacy Management (CDLM), the NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) and a joint session of the CDLM and the RWMC.

During the RF session, the participants outlined key activities for prioritisation in the coming years, including regulatory flexibility and resilience, regulatory independence, regulatory competency management, and stakeholder engagement. Discussions also centred around the deployment of Generation IV reactor technologies and their potential influence on the regulatory framework, as well as potential collaboration with the NEA Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) in this area.

The CDLM members reviewed their programme of work as well as engaged in discussions with its subsidiary bodies. Strategic planning for future CDLM activities was also a focal point of the session.  In addition, the CDLM organised a topical session entitled Advanced Reactor Decommissioning and Opportunities for Learning where ongoing activities and lessons learnt during the decommissioning of various advanced reactor technologies were discussed. These included sodium-cooled fast reactors, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and molten salt reactors. Furthermore, the participants identified key opportunities for learning in areas such as material use and management, design and process optimisation, and understanding the regulatory requirements and available disposal routes.  

The RWMC conducted a thorough review of recent developments across its focus areas, including the safety case for geological disposal, information management, regulator-implementer dialogue, robotics and remote systems. The participants also discussed plans for future activities, including the creation of a new Expert Group on Storage and Transportation. Furthermore, the RWMC organised a topical session entitled The Challenges in the Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Reactor Back-End Management. This session featured presentations and in-depth discussions on global trends in advanced reactor fuel management, options for managing used fuels and radioactive waste from SMRs and advanced reactors, recent work in the field, and considerations regarding treatment and reprocessing/recycling aspects. The participants provided perspectives and recommendations to support a responsible long-term nuclear energy strategy.

During the joint session of the CDLM and RWMC, the members engaged in discussions covering topics of mutual interest to both committees. The discussions included co-ordination and collaboration with the NEA Standing Technical Committees and other international organisations. Finally, the participants focused on challenges in waste management and decommissioning, with an emphasis on exploring ways in which the NEA can effectively support its member countries in these areas.

JS-06 Participants of the CDLM-RWMC joint session.

The yearly “Back-End Week" is an opportunity for the members of RF, CDLM, and RWMC to come together, make progress on their respective activities, formulate future strategies, and engage in collaborative efforts that integrate both decommissioning and waste management activities, such as incorporating back-end considerations in the early stages of the design and operation of new systems. To this end, the creation of a joint RWMC-CDLM focus group was endorsed to provide recommendations on how to integrate radioactive waste management and decommissioning aspects of advanced reactors and SMRs.

See also