Working Group on Waste and Decommissioning (WGWD)

The working group on waste and decommissioning (WGWD) is  mandated to analyse the current situation and the different safety approaches, compare individual national regulatory approaches with the IAEA Safety Standards, identify any differences and propose a way forward to possibly eliminate the differences. The proposals are expected to be based on the best practices among the most advanced requirements for nuclear waste facilities.

The WGWD scope of work includes the complete back end activities: decommissioning of facilities, predisposal and disposal of radioactive waste and spent fuel. Four thematic reports have been edited by the WGWD comprising a comprehensive set of Safety Reference Levels (SRL) on:

  • Decommissioning
  • Storage of waste and spent fuel
  • Disposal
  • Processing of radioactive waste

fifth report, an explanatory document on the interrelations between the four reports in a full scope waste management program has also been published. 

Once a set of SRLs is defined, WGWD analyses if the national regulations of the member states cover these SRL (legal benchmarking). If there is a need to revise the national regulations, the WGWD monitors and evaluates the changes done in the member states, which are documented in national action plans (NAP). Results of such exercises are included in the parts III of the reports Ver. 2. The state of progress for each report is indicated in the following chapters.

Storage of waste and spent fuel

The process of regulatory harmonization for waste and spent fuel storage started in 2002. It was completed with the finalisation of the Waste and Spent Fuel Storage Report (v2.2) in April 2014. At this point, 15 of the then 17 WENRA member states had presented successful implementations of the necessary regulatory changes to meet all the requirements defined in the Storage SRL set. Within ten of these 15 member states, the submitted, revised regulations had already formally come into force while legislation in the remaining five states was still pending.  Two member states had begun a comprehensive restructuring of their national nuclear regulatory organisation and the relevant regulatory framework, including the necessary changes defined by the WENRA SRL.  In both cases, the legal implementation has not yet been finalised.

The Storage Report (v2.2) includes a complete list of the changes enacted in the national regulations of the WENRA member states and shows the not (yet or not fully) met SRLs for each country. In case of Storage Report, member states underwent an additional implementation benchmarking for various type of purpose built storage facilities for radioactive waste and/or spent fuel which results are also presented in the report. 

Decommissioning of nuclear installations

The process for decommissioning was carried out in the similar way as described above for the Waste and Spent Fuel Storage Report. It was completed with the finalisation of the Decommissioning Safety Reference Levels Report (v2.2) in April 2015. The report includes a complete list of the changes enacted in the national regulations of the WENRA member states and shows the not (yet or not fully) met SRLs for each country.

At this point, 14 of the then 18 WENRA member states had presented the national actions taken for the implementation of the necessary regulatory changes to meet the requirements defined in the Decommissioning SRL set showing a significant progress over the last years. Several member states had begun a comprehensive restructuring of their national nuclear regulatory organisation and/or the relevant regulatory framework, including the necessary changes defined by the WENRA SRL. The legal implementation process has not yet been finalised in all of these countries. That is why, i.a., the implementation benchmark of three WENRA members is still pending.

Radioactive waste disposal facilities

The report on “Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities Safety Reference Levels” was published on the WENRA website in December 2014, defining a set of 108 SRL applicable to waste disposal regulations. The WGWD has started the legal benchmarking process. Evaluating the member states’ national regulations and defining the resulting national action plans is projected to be finished in 2016. 

Radioacitve waste treatment and conditioning Safety Reference Levels

After discussion and decision on stakeholder comments received until April 2017 the final WENRA waste processing report is now available in Version 1.1 (April 2018). This version will be the basis for the individual self assessments of national regulatory systems and the subsequent benchmarking procedure within WGWD. This will result in national action plans for inclusion of missing safety reference levels into the respective national regulatory systems. The documentation of this process will be included as part III in the next version (2.0) of the report which is to be expected around 2020/2021.

Umbrella Document – Interfaces and Interdependencies

In the past years, the Working Group on Waste and Decommissioning (WGWD) has documented their results and published Safety Reference Levels (SRLs) in its respective reports on the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, the processing and storage of radioactive waste and on its disposal.
This publication (“Umbrella Document: Interfaces and Interdependencies”) highlights the connections between the 4 WGWD thematic reports by summarizing their content against the background of a comprehensive radioactive waste management programme. Interfaces and interdependencies between the reports – in particular those that are not covered by the SRLs – are considered, and guidance is offered by referring to internationally accepted requirements and recommendations, e.g. the Safety Standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).