Office for Nuclear Regulation

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UK receives a ‘good practice’ at Joint Convention

23 July, 2018

Peer review is essential to enhancing safety standards. A delegation from ONR supported the UK’s contribution to the 6th review meeting of the Joint Convention, the world’s leading international forum for ensuring society and the environment are protected from hazards arising from spent fuel and radioactive waste. As one of only six nations in the world to receive a ‘good practice’, the meeting reinforced the UK’s international reputation.

Bringing together 78 countries from around the world, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management is the world’s leading international forum for ensuring society and the environment are protected from hazards arising from spent fuel and radioactive waste.

Playing a central role in helping the government meet its international obligations to the Convention, a delegation from ONR, led by Chief Nuclear Inspector Mark Foy, travelled to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s headquarters in Vienna to support the UK’s contribution to the 6th Joint Convention review meeting.

Review meetings are held every three years, with all national governments as ‘contracting parties’ required to submit a report explaining how their legislative and regulatory framework meets the obligations of the Convention, and providing updates on changes since the previous review –  a key achievement highlighted in our annual report.

At the latest meeting, we joined a delegation led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to present the UK report.

While the review meeting identified good progress in many areas worldwide, the UK received international recognition – a ‘good practice’ – for the implementation of a waste management hierarchy that has extended the life of the country’s Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR).

As one of only six nations to be awarded the highly sought-after ‘good practice’ – a practice which is unique to a country and recommended for others to consider – our more robust approach to implementing the hierarchy has significantly reduced the volume of low level radioactive waste requiring disposal at the LLWR, extending the facility’s life by 100 years.

And with four ‘areas of good performance’ also highlighted, the meeting reinforced the strong reputation the UK has internationally for its approach to spent fuel and radioactive waste management. The UK received no ‘suggestions’ – which are areas for improvement, or actions needed to improve the implementation of the Convention’s obligations.

The Joint Convention, which came into force in 2001, was the first legal instrument on a global scale to consider the safety of managing spent fuel and radioactive waste.

ONR’s Stewart Carey-Hodges, Lead Report and Presentation Author, said: “The Joint Convention is very highly regarded in the nuclear industry as the fount of all knowledge about spent fuel management and radioactive waste management, so the reception for the UK report and presentation is good news.

“The report is a huge document, with many people not just in ONR but across many of our stakeholders involved. The success for the UK is testament to a big collaborative effort over the last 18 months.”

You can read the summary report from the Joint Convention 6th review meeting.