The WM Symposia’s 50th year

November 27, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsGary Benda

This spring, Waste Management Symposia will celebrate its 50th anniversary when the conference convenes in Phoenix, Ariz., on March 10–14, 2024. Since the first international conference in 1974, WMS has grown to nearly 3,000 attendees representing more than 30 countries. The conference is an open forum for the exchange of information and discussion of opportunities related to all aspects of radioactive waste and materials management. As a nonprofit organization, all proceeds from the WMS conference go toward providing education and information on global radioactive waste management.

WM2024—which will have the theme “Marking 50: Celebrating the Past; Poised for the Future”—will welcome among its attendees high-level representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy; the International Atomic Energy Agency; and other national and international agencies, organizations, and companies. Participants will take part in special sessions from the 11 technical tracks proudly organized by over 300 industry volunteers.

Conceived of in 1973 by leaders from the University of Arizona, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the Arizona Atomic Energy Commission, and the Western Interstate Nuclear Board, the first conference, held the following year in Tucson, Ariz., saw 44 presentations and workshops dedicated to the processing, solidification, and immobilization of low- and high-level radioactive waste. It covered the entire nuclear fuel cycle from uranium mining through disposal, including treatment, packaging, transportation, and regulatory and stakeholder engagement from historical, operating, and proposed new nuclear facilities. (The 23 technical papers from the 1974 conference and proceedings from the subsequent years are available at wmsym.org.)

That first conference laid the foundation for WMS’s growth, which these days boasts more than 1,000 presentations in more than 200 sessions. No doubt the attractiveness of Arizona’s spring weather and social networking events in locales like the Sonora Desert Museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac, Nogales, Old Tucson, and the Gaslight Theatre have helped WMS become an ever-expanding annual international event. The change of location in 2007 to Phoenix, which is more convenient for international travel, has also added to the conference’s continued success.

WMS’s 50th anniversary event will have many activities, including a World Pavilion with nearly 200 exhibitors displaying their latest products and capabilities, a Post scholarship golf outing, and an anniversary reception. The conference will also feature impressive plenary sessions, a job fair, a Women Leaders of Nuclear panel, and other special events throughout the week.

WMS will expend more than $650,000 in 2024 as part of its international educational mission to benefit nuclear science and engineering students and enhance the radioactive waste management workforce. One of the conference events will be a “50 for 50” tribute, where 50 graduate and undergraduate Roy G. Post scholarships will be awarded.

The American Nuclear Society is a valued contributor to and supporter of WMS; indeed, many WMS attendees, organizers, and presenters are ANS members. ANS also bestows paper, poster, and oral session awards at the awards luncheon and publishes the “best of the best” in their Nuclear News and Radwaste Solutions.

WMS has six goals for the 50th anniversary conference:

  • Working together to solve problems in a global forum to make the world a better place.
  • Showcasing developments in STEM, young professionals, Young Generation in Nuclear (a branch of the Nuclear Institute), tech talks, and workforce development on a global platform.
  • Building relationships that create business opportunities that help grow and achieve success for the professional and business.
  • Expanding knowledge through interactions in advanced networking, technology solutions, lessons learned, and workforce development.
  • Face-to-face interactions that foster collaboration and enhance learning.
  • Delivering a global platform that shares challenges and developments in policies and solutions in radioactive waste management and deploying nuclear technology for clean energy.

Please join WMS in Phoenix in March to help further its mission for the next half-century. WM2024 will provide attendees with warm weather, a warm reception, and a great conference!

For additional information, contact Gary Benda, deputy managing director and program advisory committee chair, at gbenda@wmsym.org, or visit the conference website at wmsym.org.


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