Panel on the End of life Management of Radioactive Sources, 17 July 2019
On 17 July 2019, the VCDNP organised a panel discussion on the “End of Life Management of Sealed Radioactive Sources”. Thirty-four diplomats and technical experts from 19 IAEA Member States attended the event. Speakers included Dr. Ahmad Alsabbagh, Commissioner for Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission; Mr. Timur Zhantikin, Director General, Kazakhstan Nuclear Power Plants; and Mr. Kapila De Silva, Deputy Director, Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Regulatory Council, who discussed their experiences with the management and disposal of disused, sealed, radioactive sources (DSRS).
The experts talked about the benefits of the sources used in their respective countries and the challenges their countries face in the end of life management of these sources. They also shared their success stories, highlighting the support provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other international partners. Mr. Ian Gordon, Section Head of the IAEA
s Waste Technology Section, also participated in the panel and provided an overview of the different services the Agency provides, including the IAEA guidance and other technical publications on the management of DSRS.
The discussions focused on the variety of options available to countries for end of life management of DSRS, the challenges related to these options and how to address these challenges. Storing the sources safely in long-term storage facilities with adequate security is a commonly used option. The IAEA provides support to countries to enhance the physical security of these storage sites to protect the sources from theft resulting in malicious use. Kazakhstan, with the support of the IAEA and other international partners, upgraded physical protection at 18 sites, such as at oncology clinics, containing high-activity, radioactive sources.
To reduce the storage space and increase the security of the stored disused radioactive sources, the IAEA supported Jordan in the training of staff to remove sources in Categories 3 through 5 from their casings and place them in specialized storage capsules and containers. To date Jordan has consolidated 184 of its 220 disused sources in one container, which used to be stored in 35, 20-litre drums. Another option for end of life management is returning the Category 1 and 2 DSRS to the manufacturers or to a country that has the capacity to store them securely. Sri Lanka is working with the IAEA and the United States Department of Energy to repatriate its disused and legacy sources in pre-approved packages that enable their safe and secure transport.
The panel recognized that all current available options are not permanent solutions for long-lived DSRS and that a final solution has to be found where these sources can be disposed of permanently, economically and safely. The borehole disposal system, that is an extremely deep geological repository, will be implemented for the first time in Malaysia in the near future and has the potential of being one such solution. The importance of training and enhancing the capacity of counties to develop regulatory infrastructure and to keep track of their sources was also recognized by the panel, as was the importance of learning from each other’s experiences in managing the sources throughout their life time.
The panel discussion was organised with the support from the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Kazakhstan.