Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Joint Convention on the safety of spent fuel management and on the safety of radioactive waste management

15 May, 2012

A number of  inspectors from the Office for Nuclear Regulation are playing an important role in the fourth review meeting of the joint convention on the safety of spent fuel management and on the safety of radioactive waste management, taking place between 14-23 May inVienna, Austria.

The convention was the first legal instrument to directly address the issues of safety of spent fuel management and safety of radioactive waste management, on a global scale.  The UK is one of 66 contracting parties to the convention.

Talking of the convention, ONR Deputy Chief Inspector David Senior commented: “As a contracting party to the convention, the UK is required to submit a national report to each review meeting that addresses measures taken to implement each of the obligations of the convention.   We are also required to attend the review meeting and provide a presentation to outline the content of the UK report.” 

On 17 May, David Senior and Dr Joe McHugh, Head of Radioactive Substances Regulation for the Environment Agency, will present the UK’s report, which will provide an overview of:

  • Radioactive waste and spent fuel management in the UK;
  • Major developments since the last review meeting in 2009;
  • Action and progress on challenges from the last review meeting;
  • Current challenges
  • Significant events since the last review meeting.

Although in advance of the review meeting, there was an opportunity to raise questions, on the day, there will also be a team of representatives from the UK on hand to answer any subsequent questions following the presentation, including the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Dounreay Site Restoration Limited.

Commenting on ONR’s role in the convention, David added: “Producing the report is only one part of our involvement. On behalf of the UK, we have a vital role to play and have been working hard over the past months to prepare for the review meeting, from writing the report on behalf of DECC and preparing the presentation and relevant briefing material, to  responding to more than 100 questions raised prior to the meeting.”

A team from ONR made up of various inspectors and support staff have been involved in the preparation and will be attending the first week of the event to carry out various roles and responsibilities, including taking part in the six country groups where the national reports are presented. Here they will be required to put forward questions on behalf of the UK, derive conclusions on each report and identify challenges and good practice. They will then be required to produce a summary report to record findings and actions from each session. Support staff will be on hand in a dedicated UK office to provide support to the UK team, field and direct phone calls and help to prepare responses to additional unforeseen questions.  Each country group also has a rapporteur who will attend for the duration of the review meeting, providing a summary of the discussions from that group, and in the second week to present that summary and participate in an overall review where all views will be collected and debated. ONR is providing one of the rapporteurs.

The UK report and the presentation will be published on the ONR website in due course.