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Nuclear Installations Safety
Devoted specifically to the safety of nuclear installations and the health and safety of the public, this division seeks a better understanding of the role of safety in the design, construction and operation of nuclear installation facilities. The division also promotes engineering and scientific technology advancement associated with the safety of such facilities.
Conference on Nuclear Training and Education: A Biennial International Forum (CONTE 2023)
February 6–9, 2023
Amelia Island, FL|Omni Amelia Island Resort
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University of Florida-led consortium to research nuclear forensics
A 16-university team of 31 scientists and engineers, under the title Consortium for Nuclear Forensics and led by the University of Florida, has been selected by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to develop the next generation of new technologies and insights in nuclear forensics.
Nuclear Technology | Volume 207 | Number 9 | September 2021 | Pages 1469-1482
Technical Paper | doi.org/10.1080/00295450.2021.1888618
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
How does naming an object affect the way it is or could be managed? This paper examines and compares classification systems for radioactive waste applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and in France, Canada, and Belgium. I analyze how the relevant actors classify radioactive objects, and in so doing, prescribe their management. By comparing and describing four established classification systems, I highlight how the IAEA and national classification systems for radioactive waste systematically associate the “high-level radioactive waste” category with the “deep geological disposal” option. Building on Science and Technology Studies, I argue that creating categories of high-level radioactive waste does more than just describe different types of wastes: It also prescribes certain management options (e.g., deep geological disposal), thereby opening up certain options for action and closing down others. I underline how uncertainties remain about what to do with radioactive wastes in blurred, unstabilized categories that are classified and named differently by different actors. Examples of “blurred” categories include spent nuclear fuel from uranium oxide and spent nuclear fuel from mixed-oxide fuel. Should these categories be managed as a waste or as a resource? Should their common fate be the deep geological disposal? Revealing the power and limits of a top-down classification system to manage radioactive waste, I maintain that remaining uncertainties could reverse the dynamics of imagining a final long-term repository option for a given category. In the absence of stabilized categories, the deep geological disposal option becomes the primary mode of classifying objects as either waste or a resource. This analysis flips the conventional notion of high-level radioactive waste on its head: Instead of asking what management option should be preferred to deal with nuclear waste, the chosen disposal option has a decisive influence on what counts as radioactive waste in the first place. Nuclear engineers and top nuclear managers are invited to take a fresh look at the limits of their radioactive waste classification systems. They could potentially consider a new focus (the disposal option) and new allies (such as geological disposal designers, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society) to overcome them.