Radioactive waste – meeting the challenge

iaea_org_logo_newRadioactive Waste: Meeting the Challenge – Science and Technology for Safe and Sustainable Solutions is taking place 23-24 September 2014 in Board Room D, C-Building, 4th Floor, in the Vienna Internatonal Centre (VIC), the site of the IAEA General Conference, and will focus on radioactive waste and the science and technology available for its safe management.

With 437 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries, a further 70 under construction in 15 States, and thousands of radioactive sources being used worldwide in industry, agriculture medicine and research, the safe and sustainable management of radioactive waste is a priority for every country.

Certain types of waste can remain radioactive from a few hours to hundreds of thousands of years, and suitable approaches to storage and disposal must be developed to protect people and the environment from potential hazards, to ensure their safety now and in the future.

To highlight this important issue, the IAEA has organized this year’s Scientific Forum to focus on the scientific and technological experience gained around the world, providing the basis for safe and sustainable waste management approaches.

The Scientific Forum (23-24 September 2014) will be held on the margins of the 58th General Conference (22-26 September 2014), the annual weeklong gathering of all the IAEA’s Member States.

Entitled Radioactive Waste: Meeting the Challenge – Science and Technology for Safe and Sustainable Solutions, the Scientific Forum will explore the importance of an integrated approach to waste management, from its generation to disposal, including anticipation of future developments. Representatives from 18 countries will showcase how available solutions can address the challenges being faced in radioactive waste management.

In dedicated sessions, these experts will present available experience with waste characterization, treatment and conditioning, to convert it into a form suitable for storage, transport, and ultimately, disposal, and discuss how these provide the basis for its safe management. A panel session will also focus on how evolving nuclear technologies such as better use of nuclear fuel, innovative fuels and advanced reactors and fuel cycles, could affect future waste management needs.

According to the IAEA Nuclear Technology Review 2014, there were 68 million m3 of radioactive waste in storage around the world at the end of 2013. And up to the year 2012, approximately 76 million m3 of radioactive waste were disposed of.

Although each country is responsible for the safe management of its radioactive waste, the IAEA, with experience in this area spanning more than five decades, provides technical assistance when Member States request it. Hence, the Scientific Forum will highlight the benefits of international cooperation in this field and the IAEA support to its Member States in developing and implementing viable radioactive waste management solutions.