Notes from an international workshop on spent fuel management

January 5, 2024, 9:40AMRadwaste Solutions
Some of the participants at the NEA Workshop on Extended Storage and Transportation of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste from Current and Future Reactor Technologies. (Photo: NEA)

A recent event co-organized by the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Holtec International brought together about 100 international experts for a workshop on spent fuel and radioactive waste.

The participants included policymakers, regulators, lawyers, and experts from research and development institutions, industry, and waste management organizations.

The opening: The event, Workshop on Extended Storage and Transportation of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste from Current and Future Reactor Technologies, was held in New Jersey in December.

Following a keynote speech by Paul Murray, deputy assistant secretary for spent fuel and waste disposition at the Department of Energy, the workshop began with discussions about the status of wet and dry storage of spent fuel activities for light water reactors and the potential challenges associated with extended periods of storage.

“By applying the lessons learnt and continually improving our methods, we can ensure the long-term safety and security of spent fuel from both light water reactors and advanced reactors,” said Rebecca Tadesse, head of the Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning Division at the NEA.

Next days: The second day focused on the spent fuel and radioactive waste of small modular reactors and advanced reactor systems, considering past experiences from the 1960s and 1970s and the anticipated challenges related to disposal requirements. A dedicated session on transportation allowed the audience to learn about the industry's proven demonstrated responsible management of spent fuel and waste using various transportation systems.

The last day of the workshop was dedicated to discussing the importance of social engagement in the planning and development of transportation activities and storage facilities. Some in the workshop audience emphasized the importance of planning and structuring information, knowledge, and data management for stored spent fuel over extended periods of up to 100 years.

The results: The exchanges at the workshop helped identify remaining challenges related to the storage and transportation of light water reactor spent fuel, according to the NEA. They also highlighted the importance of international cooperation and information sharing in addressing these challenges.

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