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9

International Cooperation

In the field of radioactive waste management, international cooperation has from the earliest days played an important role. In fact, the entire nuclear fuel cycle has always been international, with a relatively small number of countries providing uranium, enrichment services, fuel fabrication, reprocessing, and other services to a wide range of customer countries. As proper management of the back end of the fuel cycle—in particular disposal of wastes—became increasingly acknowledged to be a problematic issue, cooperation was expanded. Although the responsibility for proper waste management resides with each country that generates it, there are opportunities and challenges for cooperation among countries. This chapter describes the most important areas of international cooperation, the work of international organizations, and opportunities for greater cooperation.

RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT ISSUES TRANSCEND NATIONAL BOUNDARIES

The key goals of assuring that nuclear safeguards are maintained and of demonstrating long-term safety both demand international approaches in waste management (see Sidebar 9.1 ). Accordingly, there are established procedures and mechanisms for keeping appropriate oversight and control of international activities—particularly in the transportation and safe-guards areas. Long-term management of the wastes must be considered in an international context simply because the time scales in question exceed those for which the stability of any national border can be guaran-



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Page 143 9 International Cooperation In the field of radioactive waste management, international cooperation has from the earliest days played an important role. In fact, the entire nuclear fuel cycle has always been international, with a relatively small number of countries providing uranium, enrichment services, fuel fabrication, reprocessing, and other services to a wide range of customer countries. As proper management of the back end of the fuel cycle—in particular disposal of wastes—became increasingly acknowledged to be a problematic issue, cooperation was expanded. Although the responsibility for proper waste management resides with each country that generates it, there are opportunities and challenges for cooperation among countries. This chapter describes the most important areas of international cooperation, the work of international organizations, and opportunities for greater cooperation. RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT ISSUES TRANSCEND NATIONAL BOUNDARIES The key goals of assuring that nuclear safeguards are maintained and of demonstrating long-term safety both demand international approaches in waste management (see Sidebar 9.1 ). Accordingly, there are established procedures and mechanisms for keeping appropriate oversight and control of international activities—particularly in the transportation and safe-guards areas. Long-term management of the wastes must be considered in an international context simply because the time scales in question exceed those for which the stability of any national border can be guaran-

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Page 144 teed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA, 1997a) explicitly supports international cooperation and acknowledges that shared facilities can be beneficial. As of January 2001, 42 countries had signed and 23 had ratified, accepted, or approved this legally binding convention. Sidebar 9.1: International Consensus on the Objective and Principles of Radioactive Waste Management The objective of radioactive waste management is to deal with radioactive waste in a manner that protects human health and the environment now and in the future without imposing undue burdens on future generations. To meet this objective, the following internationally agreed principles are detailed in the IAEA Safety Fundamentals (IAEA, 1995b), together with supporting text: Principle 1: Protection of human health Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way as to secure an acceptable level of protection for human health. Principle 2: Protection of the environment Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way as to provide an acceptable level of protection of the environment. Principle 3: Protection beyond national borders Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way as to assure that possible effects on human health and the environment beyond national borders will be taken into account. Principle 4: Protection of future generations Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way that predicted impacts on the health of future generations will not be greater than relevant levels of impact that are acceptable today. Principle 5: Burdens on future generations Radioactive waste shall be managed in such a way that will not impose undue burdens on future generations. Principle 6: National framework Radioactive waste shall be managed within an appropriate national legal framework including clear allocation of responsibilities and provision for independent regulatory functions. Principle 7: Control of radioactive waste generation Generation of radioactive waste shall be kept to the minimum practicable. Principle 8: Radioactive waste generation and management interdependencies Interdependencies among all steps in radioactive waste generation and management shall be appropriately taken into account. Principle 9: Safety of facilities The safety of facilities for radioactive waste management shall be appropriately assured during their lifetime.

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Page 145 Cooperation across the world is not restricted to national waste management programs or to implementer or regulator organizations. There are also close contacts among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental groups in different countries. In fact, some of the large NGOs are themselves international organizations. Currently, the cooperation across national boundaries between groups holding similar views on controversial waste management issues (whether for or against) often seems more intensive than the interactions within a country between groups with differing opinions. The result of close and fast transnational communication between all parties involved in waste management is that issues become common. Scientific and technical concepts and controversies are shared, as are societal attitudes and concerns. Problems will not always be weighted equally in different countries, challenges will not be assigned identical priorities, and solutions will certainly not be directly transferable. However, the international character of radioactive waste management must be recognized and taken into account in developing national concepts and strategies. In this chapter, the different mechanisms for collaboration between national programs are examined, with examples being drawn from experiences shared over the last 10–20 years. The advantages to be gained by cooperation are examined—as are the potential problems. Included in the discussion is a description of the types of activities fostered by international organizations, together with the committee's views on the possibilities for increasing their value. The issue of regional or international repositories in which one host country disposes of wastes from other nations is discussed. The chapter ends with a review of lessons learned from the past on the value of cooperation between countries and with suggestions for potential improvements. SHARING KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE, AND COSTS BETWEEN COUNTRIES This section provides an overview of international collaborations, including those directly among countries and those fostered by international organizations. Waste Management Information Is Freely Available There has been a long tradition of open publishing in the waste management field. The national waste management organizations in many countries have extensive report series, which are freely available to all interested parties. Obvious examples are U.S. organizations such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC), and

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Page 146 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but other countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, and Finland also have extensive lists of low-cost or free publications. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, originally had more restricted access to technical reports and data, but these countries have also developed open publications over time. Weapons states obviously have restricted access to radioactive waste information—but this also has changed with the United States and Russia, in particular, making the cleanup and waste management tasks that the defense programs have left behind increasingly transparent (DOE, 1997, 1998a). In recent times, the explosive growth of internet communications has also given access to huge amounts of information at all levels. Not only do waste management implementers, regulators, and others maintain web sites, but intensive use also is made of this tool by NGOs and environmental groups. The convenient cross-linking to numbers of other sites also affords the public opportunities for weighing the views of different parties against one another. In addition to all of the information in national publications, international organizations such as the IAEA, Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the European Commission (EC) also publish open reports. For a country starting out in the waste management field there is the potential to gain much time and to save costs by making use of the published material. Interpersonal exchange of information is also easy. The calendar is full of conferences at which contacts can be made, and virtually all waste management organizations and facilities are open for visits from colleagues or from the public. Furthermore, the number of qualified waste management experts around the world is not large, and these experts comprise an active and highly visible community. Availability of information on the programs of other countries is, thus, not a problem in this field. International Organizations Provide a Framework for Collaboration A step beyond exchanging information is joint development or documentation of a knowledge database. Vehicles for this are provided by international agencies, which organize standing committees, working groups, and workshops for these purposes. The IAEA includes numerous countries—many without nuclear power—so that the focus is different from that of the NEA, which is more limited and more homogeneous in its membership, or the EC, which has still fewer members. All of these organizations have a useful role in arriving at and documenting consensus views on key issues. The IAEA Safety Series documents are recognized internationally, and its legal conventions (such as the recent Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management,

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Page 147 IAEA, 1997a) are binding commitments on signatory states. Within the waste management community itself, the NEA also has placed great emphasis on arriving at and documenting consensus views. The clearest examples here are the collective opinions organized through the NEA, but signed onto also by the IAEA and the EC (NEA, 1985, 1991b, 1995a). These have put on record the consensus of implementers, regulators, and national laboratories in member countries that geological disposal is ethical and can be accomplished safely. A more proactive role is played by international organizations when they organize groups who try to develop new initiatives or ideas. These groups are sometimes very formalized, examples being the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) or the Performance Assessment Advisory Group (PAAG) of the NEA or the Waste Safety Advisory Committee (WASSAC) of the IAEA. Sometimes they are less formal (e.g., the Natural Analogue Working Group of the EC [Côme and Chapman, 1986a, 1986b, 1989, 1991]) or the Principles and Criteria Subgroup at the IAEA). In addition, influential activities are undertaken by the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP), which develops, independently of national governments, guidelines on radiation protection that are then adopted into most bodies of national legislation. Organizing joint projects is more difficult for international organizations than is providing advice. There are often funding problems, because countries are reluctant to reallocate funds from national projects to internationally controlled projects where they have less control. Of the agencies mentioned, only the EC controls sufficient funds to run a major research and development program. The EC supports collaborative projects between agencies in the European countries by providing up to 50 percent of the funding for these projects. The present budget is equal to about 60 million U.S. dollars for the period 1998 through 2002. The result of these restrictions is that very few significant active investigation programs operate directly under the auspices of international organizations. When they appear to do so (e.g., NEA patronage of the international Stripa project doing underground research in Sweden) the role of the international organization is often more as a figurehead. Direct hands-on running of projects tends to occur more in ad hoc groupings of partners, as described in the following section. A further criticism that has been leveled at the official international waste management organizations is that they are not sufficiently open to NGOs and other groups. This occurs mainly because participation in official working groups and committees is usually through nomination by governments. Even at major international conferences and workshops, attendance by those outside official waste management organizations is rare. In both the IAEA and the NEA, initiatives are under way to broaden participation.

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Page 148 Joint Projects Are the Most Effective Vehicles for Collaboration Almost all countries with significant waste programs have signed biand multilateral cooperation agreements with a range of other countries. These encourage information exchanges but also provide a framework for direct collaboration on projects. There are numerous reasons why collaborative work between two or more countries can be advantageous for all participants: all costs from R&D work through to major construction can be shared and thus reduced for individual participants; the pool of expertise is widened, there can be more effective peer reviewing of the results, and world-class knowledge can be tapped; suitable facilities for technical work (especially with radioactive substances) may not be available everywhere; suitable locations for field work may not be available everywhere for technical or political reasons; and many of the scientific issues facing waste management experts (especially in the early years) were generic in nature so that solutions have been transferable. These reasons have led to a long line of collaborative projects of a bilateral or multilateral type. Some of the best examples cover underground research laboratories (URLs) (Brewitz et al., 1999; McCombie and Kickmaier, 1999). These are expensive facilities; various countries (e.g., Spain, United Kingdom) have failed to achieve the public acceptance needed to site URLs; one country might like to study various potential host rocks (granite, salt, clay) without having to construct a test facility in each. Accordingly, many of the URLs of the “first generation” (i.e., sited as pure research facilities rather than precursors of repositories) have hosted major international programs. The prime example is Sweden, which has run both the Stripa and later the Äspö crystalline URLs with numerous partners. Similarly, wide participation is a feature of the Grimsel (crystalline) and Mont Terri (clay) laboratories in Switzerland, and several nations have also been active in the Mol facility (clay) in Belgium, the Asse mine (salt) in Germany, and the Canadian URL (crystalline) at Whiteshell. The first operational deep repository at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) (salt) in the United States is also open for international cooperative experiments. Joint project work between national programs has not, however, been restricted to URL studies. Engineered barrier investigations (e.g., on spent fuel, high-level waste (HLW) glasses, and bentonite backfills) have also been the subjects of collaborative projects. A further common field for multinational investigations has been natural analogues. These are usually geological abnormalities that display some of the features of interest

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Page 149 to waste disposers and that have existed for very long times in nature. Examples are the natural uranium reactors at Oklo in Gabon in Africa, where fission products from a chain reaction have remained relatively immobile for millions of years (Walton and Cowan, 1975; Miller et al., 1994; EC, 1998; Smellie, 1998; Jensen and Ewing, 2001); the geochemical systems at Pocos de Caldas in Brazil, where the important influence of oxidation state on the mobility of nuclides was studied (Chapman et al., 1990); and the hyperalkaline springs in Vordau, Oman, or Maqarin, Jordan, which afford opportunities for learning about the possible impact of cementitious materials on the geochemistry in a deep repository (Miller et al., 1994; Linklater et al., 1996; Smellie, 1998). All of these objects have been the center of multinational projects, supported by the participants because they present a rare or unique opportunity for scientists to learn directly from observation of these natural abnormalities. Natural analogues have also been used in attempts to inform a wider public of approaches to understanding the potential very-long term behavior of repository systems (Nagra, 1994). Multinational projects of the type described in this section commonly are funded and managed by partner organizations from various countries, all with an equal interest in the results and with comparable capabilities for technical and financial contributions. A different type of interaction between national programs has developed in recent years as the experience, skills, and prior investments of some countries have grown significantly beyond those of later entrants to the field. The Role of Commercial Consulting as a Know-How Transfer Mechanism Some countries intensified their national waste management programs more than 20 years ago, sometimes due to political or societal pressures. These pressures constrained countries—sometimes small—to invest significant funding in building a strong scientific and technical basis. When other countries moved 10–20 years later to build stronger disposal programs (e.g., in East Asia, or Eastern Europe), there was a trend toward national agencies commencing commercial consulting practices. A pioneer here was SKB in Sweden, but this was followed soon by others. One example is the Casseopée organization in which European Union (EU) waste management organizations combine to offer consulting services, primarily to Eastern Europe. Another example is the Swiss Nagra, which collaborates intensively with Japanese organizations. In addition to consulting by national waste management organizations, services are provided around the world by many commercial companies that work on waste management in different countries and hence contribute to the sharing of technology and know-how. This also leads to

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Page 150 increased business competition, especially as opportunities have been declining in other areas of the nuclear market while expenditures on waste management have remained high. The extent to which different countries rely on private industry, as opposed to national organizations, for planning and implementing waste management strategies varies widely. In the context of the current discussion on the goals of waste management, this is of little importance. Whether the programs are led by governmental organizations or delegated to private enterprise, the prime goal of any nation must be to see that those in charge concentrate on solving the problems of safe and secure management and do not focus instead on prolonging and extending programs or organizations. Some Problems Can Arise During Cooperation— But the Benefits Outweigh These All of the above forms of collaboration between countries involved in waste management are of potential benefit to participants. Nevertheless, disagreements and disputes may arise over goals or principles. They are more likely when a country feels that it is not getting sufficient value for the funding it contributes. The United States, for example, has in the past disputed the promotional role for nuclear energy of the NEA and the IAEA, and various countries have questioned the cost-effectiveness of both. Dissatisfaction also can arise due to the lengthened time scales often resulting from the slower pace of international organizations, which must seek consensus at every step. An example here is the frustration felt by many participating countries at the slow pace of developing an international thermodynamic database at the NEA. Further doubts have been raised concerning the inclination of many established working groups to become self-propagating, with a tendency to seek further problems to study rather than solutions to existing problems. By and large, however, the waste management community recognizes and appreciates the opportunities in its field for profiting from international collaboration. The acknowledged value of sharing experience and technical ideas also has encouraged social scientists in different countries to seek common ground. Although national cultural differences obviously present more of a challenge in these areas, there have been international workshops on ethics (KASAM, 1988; NEA, 1994), retrievability (ANDRA, 1998; IAEA, 2000b), and public dialogue (e.g., NEA, 1996) in the past few years. The attitudes and concerns of the public concerning radioactive wastes appear to have much in common. It is certainly worth considering and comparing the possible ways to address these without assuming that solutions will be transferable from country to country. The increasing cooperation and convergence of approaches in the technical and societal aspects of national programs contrasts with the

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Page 151 situation in the area of policy decisions. Currently, national policies appear to be more divergent than they were 10–20 years ago. At that time, there was a wider commitment to geological disposal on time scales that now seem relatively close. Many countries intended to have deep repositories operating early in this century. Today, the acceptability of the option is being questioned in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom. Some countries, e.g., the Netherlands, have introduced waiting times of around 100 years before moving to disposal, and most countries working towards disposal have moved back their target dates. It is not to be expected that policies will be identical in different cultures or national programs. It is confusing, however, if there is insufficient common understanding of the reasons for the diversity, whether these are technical, societal or cultural. Differences in choice of timing, host media, and facility design, for example, should be understandable by the public in various countries. Increased collaboration and exchanges of views at the policy level could help achieve this objective. COLLABORATION THROUGH USE OF COMMON WASTE MANAGEMENT FACILITIES This section first discusses experience in shipping wastes across national boundaries to shared facilities. It then focuses on issues and proposals for establishing international HLW repositories. Transboundary Shipments for Treatment or Storage of Wastes Are Difficult Despite the widespread and growing recognition of the value of collaboration between national programs, any activities involving the transfer of actual wastes across national boundaries have tended to become more difficult in recent years. Earlier, wastes were shipped without political or public opposition. The reprocessing nations, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia, accepted spent fuel from foreign customers and expected to retain the wastes remaining after recovering the plutonium and unused uranium. Individual swaps of specific waste streams were organized if a better overall environmental solution resulted. With time, however, acceptance dropped. France and the United Kingdom, not wishing to be branded “the dustbin of Europe,” introduced contract clauses specifying that waste must be returned to customers. Various countries introduced legislation banning import of radioactive wastes (e.g., France, Sweden, Finland, and Russia). This was done despite the fact that other toxic wastes can be, and are being, shipped (with proper controls) for treatment or even disposal in foreign countries.

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Page 152 The negative perception of the safety of radioactive waste transport (despite its heavy regulatory requirements) has caused further barriers to shipping to be established, in spite of a history of more than 50 years of safe, secure, and essentially unchallenged shipment of fuels and other radioactive materials to nuclear power plants around the world. For example, opposition has been expressed in Germany to the transport of spent fuel from nuclear power plants to central interim storage facilities and to the return of nationally owned waste from foreign reprocessors. In Switzerland and France, there has also been opposition to waste transport associated with reprocessing. The global distrust of moving radioactive waste across boundaries is widespread but may be reduced by new efforts to involve the public in decisions regarding transportation issues. Some countries are not adequately equipped to handle or store the radioactive materials that they currently possess. The most tragic example of this concern is sealed irradiation sources, which have been misappropriated, leading to serious accidents in some countries, for example, Goiânia, Brazil (Petterson, 1988). Some countries are simply running out of storage space for their spent fuel at reactor sites and have difficulties siting new facilities for storage or disposal. For example, Taiwan has no storage space at some reactors, no possibility of juggling between reactors, and little prospect of being able to site a central store. Japanese utilities will also run into problems if they do not get extra storage at reactors or at a central location. Germany will either have to accelerate licensing for on-site storage or else allow transports to the Gorleben or Ahaus facilities. This pressure has led to open discussions on approaches for storing such fuel at a foreign location, such as in Russia. These proposals are mentioned in the following sections, which concentrate, however, on the still more controversial issue of disposing of foreign wastes in a host country. International Repositories—A Global Issue There is widespread acceptance of the fact that all countries are not independent in all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, and there is wide agreement that close cooperation in waste management technology is to be encouraged. When this cooperation extends to sharing joint storage or disposal facilities, however, opinions differ. The divergence of views concerns not so much the desirability of international repositories as it does their practical feasibility and timing. It is apparent that not all countries utilizing nuclear power are well suited for storing or disposing of spent fuel. Some countries are limited in area, or have unfavorable geology, so siting repositories is especially challenging. Some small countries may not have the resources to take the proper measures on their own to assure adequate safety and security, or

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Page 153 they may not have enough HLW to make constructing and operating their own repositories economically feasible. In any case, many small repositories will not be an optimal approach from the point of view of either economics or safeguards. In this section, the issues to be considered when evaluating the advantages or disadvantages of international disposal facilities are laid out, as has been done in recent years by the IAEA in a series of papers and reports (IAEA, 1998). These issues concern safety, environmental, economic, ethical, and public acceptance aspects (Bonne et al., 1999; Pellaud et al., 1999; IAEA, 1989, 1997b). Long-Term Safety In the area of safety, particularly, long-term safety, the difference between a multinational repository and a national project is not the level of safety to be sought. There is no reason to tighten the rigorous safety requirements set for national disposal facilities, and it is definitely not ethical to seek regions or countries where less stringent safety measures could be acceptable. In both multinational and national cases, one needs a disposal system that provides the same internationally agreed-on, high level of safety over very long times. Nuclear Security Fissile materials from dismantling surplus weapons and also spent nuclear fuel must be safeguarded against misuse (IAEA, 1989; Linsley and Fattah, 1994). Continuing safeguards are a burden that must be borne by countries with stocks of spent fuel. This burden can be lessened by transferring the material to centralized international facilities at which particularly strict controls are to be expected. Centralized facilities also appeal to the international community because they can be easier to safe-guard than multiple, distributed smaller national facilities (Carter and Pigford, 1999). Economic Issues Shared repositories are attractive from an economic point of view. Deep geological repositories have life-cycle costs amounting to billions of U.S. dollars. This is true even for small countries with low projected waste volumes. Shared facilities can avoid the high costs of repository programs falling on each country individually, can allow economies of scale that result in lower unit costs, and may be sited and designed so as to lower capital and operating costs (Hensing, 1996). A country that is willing to share its repository with other countries can expect significant economic benefits.

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Page 154 Public Acceptability This will be a major issue in the host country, but it also is important for the export nation. Only if the safety, security, environmental, and ethical aspects are clearly seen to be taken extremely seriously by all parties and if the economic and infrastructure benefits are very clear is it conceivable that public acceptance can be achieved. A serious host country will not allow itself to be “bought”; there must be also a clear perception that the host is undertaking a service that helps less advantaged countries (geologically or economically) to fulfil their responsibilities for their waste in an ethical manner. The increased transportation requirements for international repositories also will be a major public and political issue. Political Issues Public acceptability is, of course, intimately linked with political acceptability. Although there are few or no stumbling blocks hindering international repositories on technical, economic, or institutional grounds, politically it has proven difficult for most countries to support international disposal. However, some countries have openly expressed interest in the export or import of radioactive wastes. Despite the doubts expressed by various national programs of the feasibility of international disposal, there is growing interest in the concept. For example, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands have decided that exploring the feasibility of international projects can be a prudent approach on its own or in parallel to a strategy for the development of national disposal concepts. The wariness of most countries towards consideration of acceptance of foreign wastes signals that the issue remains politically very sensitive. Some national disposal programs are legitimately concerned that their population will interpret a national facility as the first step towards acceptance of foreign wastes or that their national politicians might use the prospect of an emerging international solution as an argument to curtail national programs The argument often put forward is that a few national facilities must first show the way and that this will ease the problems of implementing further national repositories or international facilities. Thus, international initiatives should make efforts not to harm national repository programs. A change of political attitudes is not likely in the short term, unless or until public appreciation of the economic advantages or of the international benefits outweighs, at both a national and local level, public apprehension over the disposal of radioactive wastes. In the past two years, however, there has been a rapid opening of the debate on international

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Page 155 Sidebar 9.2 The Concept and Status of Proposals for International Repositories The key characteristic of repositories referred to as “international” is that they would accept radioactive wastes from several countries. The repository would be located in a willing host country. Other terms for such shared repositories are “multinational” and “regional.” They could include, for example, a national repository that accepts waste from other countries, an internationally owned private company operating within a host country, or a fully international facility owned and operated by a consortium of nations or even an international organization. At the generic level, papers on the concept of international repositories have been published in recent years by the IAEA (IAEA, 1998) and by workers in South Africa (Bredell and Fuchs, 1996, 1997), Germany (Hensing, 1996), and Switzerland (McCombie, 1997, 1999c). Recently, the issue has been highlighted from the point of view of secure storage and disposal of fissile materials from weapons dismantling (Suzuki, 1998; CSIS, 2000). The current suggestions for international storage and disposal facilities include the following: The Nonproliferation Trust (NPT): a private U.S.-based organization focusing on storage and disposal in Russia of surplus materials from weapons dismantling (Cochran and Paine, 1998). Proposal of M. Bunn, N. Numark, and T. Suzuki: This group suggested an approach similar to the current version of NPT, including storage—in particular of Japanese fuel—in the far east of Russia, but involving also fabrication of mixed oxide (MOX) fuels (Munsberg, 2000). Proposal of the Russian government ministry Minatom: Although it would involve changing the current law that prohibits import of nuclear fuels, Minatom has proposed storing and eventually reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from Asian and European countries (Dobbs, 2000). The Global Peace Initiative proposed by A. Suzuki: 1 This has the same prime goal of preventing proliferation in the wake of disarmament but includes a wider range of potential storage and disposal countries (Suzuki, 2000a, 2000b). The Pangea Project: 2 an international organization proposing commercial repositories for conventional spent fuel, ex-weapons materials, and other long-lived wastes in specially chosen geological settings (McCombie, 1999b; Miller et al., 1999; Pentz, 1999). 1 Atsuyuki Suzuki is a member of this committee. 2 Charles McCombie is a member of this committee and director of the Pangea Project. repositories, and more countries (especially small nuclear nations) are expressing an open interest in the option. CONCLUSIONS Based on the foregoing discussion, the committee offers the following conclusions on international cooperation and international repositories.

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Page 156 International Cooperation After extensive presentations of national programs and discussions on international exchanges at the 1999 Irvine Workshop, the following conclusions were drawn about the role of cooperation between countries in radioactive waste management: Cooperation is universally agreed to be valuable or even essential. Efforts to strengthen interactions may be expected to increase in the future. In some areas, for example, transport across boundaries or security of fissile materials, cooperation is essential. Organizations such as the NEA and IAEA play important roles; there are overlaps in their areas of responsibility, but these are not great. Underground laboratories are key mechanisms for collaboration. The trend is now to longer-time-scale projects aimed at demonstrating disposal technology. Production of generic data (e.g., thermodynamic databases) is of wide interest, and more could be done. International peer review activities are seen to be important and could be expanded with a focus on confidence building. The value of collaborative projects is very case specific. The most positive examples have had clear aims, strong management, and high-quality, timely reporting. Smaller national programs can benefit most, and these generally utilize collaboration more efficiently. For both small and large countries, international work should be fully integrated within the national program and not treated as an add-on option. International technical cooperation will facilitate developing a consensus on international standards for the safety, security, and reliability of long-term storage facilities and geological repositories. It could be useful to review the roles of existing international organizations and assess the potential value of new coordination groups such as EDRAM (Environmental Disposal of Radioactive Materials), a group including nations with large geological disposal programs. International cooperation has been very heavily weighted toward the scientific and technical areas. Given the growing appreciation that major problems in waste management today lie in the sociological and public arenas (see Chapter 5 and Chapter 8 ) as well in institutional design, it would be worthwhile to consider the role that cooperation across national boundaries could play here also. International Repositories The following conclusions can be drawn on the potential role of international repositories in radioactive waste management:

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Page 157 As agreed in international conventions, all countries are responsible for their own radioactive wastes. This does not exclude centralizing activities (such as waste conditioning) or facilities (for storage or disposal) in specific countries. No country should transfer radioactive wastes to another unless it is assured that the organizational and technical requirements for safe management of these wastes are adequate in the importing country. No potential host country can be compelled to accept foreign wastes from others. International repositories in willing host countries can have economic, environmental, safety, and security advantages. There are, nevertheless, very divergent views on the political feasibility of implementing such facilities in the near future. On the other hand, it is widely accepted that international or regional repositories must eventually become a reality. International initiatives should recognize the sensitivities of national programs and make efforts not to harm these programs. In particular, international siting programs should not be presented as a search for the safest sites or interpreted as disqualifying national sites. Conversely, national programs should not, for parochial reasons, encourage a negative view of international concepts. Taking strong positions against international proposals for short-term objectives may make matters difficult for small countries in the future and can work against global environmental and economic optimization. In summary, international cooperation in radioactive waste management has two rather contradictory aspects. On one hand, the high public and political profile of all radioactive waste issues in most countries has encouraged intensive collaboration to try to solve common problems facing countries intent on fulfilling their responsibilities for managing their wastes. This is clearly demonstrated by numerous bi- and multilateral projects and by the strong support for the efforts of international organizations. On the other hand, the sensitivity of radioactive waste issues has slowed progress toward common solutions based on shared facilities for storage or disposal. The committee believes that technical cooperation has helped national programs move ahead, that collaboration could be intensified more in both the technical and the social sciences, and that both national and international storage and disposal facilities will be needed in the future.