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12 Summary Remarks Daid N. McNelis University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill This was the second interacademy workshop addressing the proposed Russia- based international spent nuclear fuel (SNF) storage site. Although the plans for this site are in an early stage of formulation, these workshops have provided a forum for the international community to exchange ideas and engage in informa- tive discussion regarding international storage sites in general, the Russian site in particular, and directly related issues. Both of these interacademy workshops were sponsored by the Russell Family Foundation. Its cofounder, George Russell, is primarily interested in the waste component of the nuclear fuel cycle and specifically the burn-up and/or trans- mutation of residual fissile materials and the long-lived, radiotoxic actinides and fission products in the SNF. He wants to mitigate the potentially damaging legacy from these materials by ensuring that fissionable materials are destroyed or, at a minimum, safely and securely stored. His interests include exploring how an international body, presumably the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), could assure transparency and provide applicable standards for siting, safety, transportation, and safeguards as well as monitoring for such a site. He hopes to advance the concept of multilateral cooperation and ultimately reduce the number of sites around the world where SNF and high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) are stored, reprocessed/recycled, or placed in geological repositories. These workshops were different from the more typical intergovernmental or international meetings on the topic of the storage of SNF. For example, 1. the Russian proposal to host a storage site was placed in a broad inter- national context; 86

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87 SUMMARY REMARKS 2. the workshops were convened by nongovernmental entities and most of the participants represented nongovernmental organizations; 3. the workshops provided the nongovernmental organizations community with an opportunity to participate in serious deliberations on the Russian plans and directly related topics; 4. an objective of the workshops was to open a nongovernmental channel to encourage or advance international approaches to the consolidation, storage, and disposal of waste nuclear materials; and 5. as previously stated, the workshops were privately funded. The first workshop was held in Moscow in May 2003. Relevant experiences in selecting and characterizing repository sites; in managing, handling, and trans- porting SNF; in developing policy options, policies, and infrastructure; and in regenerating fuels and stabilizing wastes—from Russia, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland—were presented and discussed. As the intent was to illuminate, not resolve issues or even attain a consensus on an approach, the richness of the dialogue and the merits of the policy options that were suggested were particularly important. A few observations and conclusions from the first workshop are described below. •  Although there are differing opinions as to the most appropriate end- point, long-term storage, preferably centralized, is required in every case that was considered and should have high priority. •  Each government should have the right to establish its own policy for managing SNF while observing international norms for ensuring its safety and security. •  More than five decades of experience confirms that shipment of SNF and HLRW can be conducted safely. With the increase in terrorism, however, greater attention to transportation security is needed. •  Fifty years of experience in the storage of SNF has demonstrated con- ditions that appear to ensure that materials will remain stable. The materials in question may be stable over longer periods, but that assumption needs to be vali- dated. Licensing of long-term storage facilities, perhaps for 100 years or beyond, may be necessary for heat and radiation dissipation, given the trend to higher burn-up and the incorporation of plutonium in mixed oxide fuels. •  Two of the sites under consideration in Russia for the International SNF Storage Site are Krasnoyarsk (currently the site for the national SNF storage pro- gram) and Krasnokamensk (a uranium mining area). There may be other possible sites as well. •  Issues associated with proliferation and terrorism were recognized but not directly addressed in detail at the Moscow workshop.

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88 SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL STORAGE FACILITIES This second workshop, which was convened at the IAEA Conference Center in Vienna, was also an international gathering, with participants from Germany, France, Japan, Taiwan, Austria, and Switzerland, in addition to the IAEA, Russia, and the United States. This workshop also focused on the proposed International SNF Storage Site in Russia and its possible consideration as a pilot regional site—preferably one of a small number of sites worldwide that would store all materials. While there are no international sites in operation for the storage of SNF that are not linked to a reprocessing plant, several countries have, or soon will have, national sites, for example, Switzerland’s storage site and Finland’s geological repository. In Finland the repository has particularly broad public and political support. Russia is the first country to propose hosting a site where SNF of inter- national origin could be stored. Russia has in place the enabling legislation to establish such a storage site, but Russian law prohibits the import of radiological waste. Many of the potential international customers for the Russian site use U.S.-origin fuel, and U.S. law requires a consent agreement with the U.S. gov- ernment for the import of such materials by a third party. The United States is opposed to the reprocessing of U.S.-origin fuel transferred under such a consent agreement. The geological repository site in the United States at Yucca Mountain (Ne- vada) has not garnered the same level of public support as the analogous site in Finland. The U.S. nuclear industry supports Yucca Mountain as being a tech- nologically sound geological repository that can meet regulatory requirements. While the goals of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) include demonstrating that the repository can be constructed, operated, and closed in a manner that pro- tects the public, there is an unresolved issue with setting the radiation standard for the site. Court decisions in this regard along with past and projected financial appropriation shortfalls have resulted in DOE delaying its license application. As a result, SNF in the United States is stored in on-site pools with excess mate- rial going to on-site dry spent fuel storage locations. By 2010 it is expected that almost all utility sites in the United States will require dry cask storage. Although U.S. government attempts to identify a state willing to host a monitored retrievable storage site have failed, there have been a few initiatives led by industrial consortia to develop their own centralized storage facilities. One of these is located on land of the Skull Valley Band of the Goshute people, a sovereign American Indian nation in Utah. It has recently received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for construction of a 40-year lifetime installation (40,000 MTU capacity). This initiative of eight utility companies was discussed at the first workshop. At present it does not have approval of the state of Utah or broad public support. There appeared to be a consensus among workshop participants with respect to several aspects of SNF management, including the storage and final disposal aspects being prime candidates for multilateral approaches and international

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89 SUMMARY REMARKS cooperation. The benefit of such collaboration seems obvious, although a host of legal and liability issues, in addition to the political and public acceptance con- cerns, need to be resolved. Potential customers for regional storage sites would presumably include countries that lack a suitable storage site, lack reprocessing facilities, or seek a more economical solution than building and managing their own facilities. It is my view that countries with well-developed nuclear energy programs and experience in the management and handling of spent fuel would seem to be the most appropriate hosts for SNF storage sites. The Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel and Nuclear Waste Man- agement and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management as well as a number of other international legal instruments allow for international solutions consistent with maintaining a high level of safety worldwide. In March 2004 the director general of the IAEA convened a group of experts to explore options and develop proposals for multinational nuclear approaches (MNAs) to the nuclear fuel cycle. The report of that group has just been published and includes a recom- mendation that attention be given by IAEA member states, by the IAEA itself, by the nuclear industry, and by other nuclear organizations to MNAs in general and to five specific approaches. They include “creating, through voluntary agreements and contracts, multinational, and in particular regional, MNAs for new facilities based on joint ownership, drawing rights or co-management for front-end and back-end nuclear facilities, such as uranium enrichment; fuel reprocessing; and disposal and storage of spent fuel (and combinations thereof).” 1 In addition to its roles with respect to assuring transparency and establishing standards and safeguards, it would seem appropriate for the IAEA also to monitor regional storage sites for compliance with international design standards, safety, financial management, environmental compliance, and other security issues. Based on conversations with IAEA staff members, the IAEA would presumably use the experience of the United States, Russia, Finland, and other countries in developing standards for siting and site characterization for regional international SNF storage sites. The IAEA is authorized by statute to provide such services, although they would most likely be provided in response to requests from the contracting parties. The IAEA has recently completed a revision (yet unpublished) of its stan- dards for packaging and shipping of SNF. Topics included are packaging (casks), modes of transport, transport requirements, regulatory requirements (during pack- age design and testing and during transport), radiological safety, and accident conditions and emergency response. The standards note a 10-year history of transport of radioactive materials in the United States with no accidents involving SNF casks (type B packages) that resulted in significant radioactive releases. The 1 IAEA. 2005. Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Expert Group Report Submit- ted to the Director General of the IAEA, INFCIRC/640, available online at Publications/Documents/Infcircs/005/infcirc60.pdf.

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90 SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL STORAGE FACILITIES IAEA has prepared many other highly relevant documents, many of which were mentioned at the workshop, on topics including, for example, safety, transport, economics, partitioning, and transmutation. One of the stated goals of this workshop was to highlight international law and liability issues concerning the shipment of SNF packages. Nuclear facility operators and transport carriers could have significant and complex problems in the event of a nuclear incident or major accident occurring during the shipment of nuclear materials. The complexity of resolving the liability and financial aspects of the problem depends largely on the nuclear liability policies and practices of the states involved. States may be parties to one of the international nuclear liabil- ity conventions, may have enacted their own national nuclear liability legislation, or may be without specific nuclear liability legislation. There are three international conventions on nuclear liability: the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage: International Framework, the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy, and the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage). Liability un- der these conventions is consistent and generally clear. It resides with the nuclear facility operator where the incident/accident occurred. Liability for accidents that occur during shipment between states without common treaty relations are more complex, with identifying the competent court and the applicable law(s) often dif- ficult. Compensation as a result of such accidents would be subject to the general rules of international law covering commercial transactions in the private sector, and the outcomes would be difficult to predict. It would be beneficial for partnering operators to be parties to the same international convention under which the competent court and applicable laws are clearly understood. However, bilateral arrangements or contracts for the ship- ment of nuclear materials have a long history and probably will continue for an extended period. It is also important to review the policies of countries with respect to import- ing or exporting materials designated as radioactive waste. These policies or their underlying laws are, of course, subject to change. Within Europe slightly more than one-half of the 20 countries reporting would not permit the import of these materials, and there are conditions that would be imposed by those countries that would permit such imports. In contrast, almost all of the countries would permit, under certain conditions, the export of radiological waste. There are also, as could be expected, significant differences between what is permitted (or restricted) by law and the policies that are implemented. The discussions at this interacademy workshop outside governmental chan- nels were quite open and frank regarding the potential of the Russian site as the first commercial international storage site for SNF not associated with a reprocessing plant. They focused international scrutiny on the potential site at Krasnokamensk, whereas most of the attention previously has been devoted to the

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9 SUMMARY REMARKS potential site at Krasnoyarsk. Regardless of the location, workshop participants noted that progress is being made in establishing a storage site in Russia. Finally, the ideal solution to the fuel cycle and the associated high-level radioactive waste, whatever its composition and magnitude, is an international one. The consolidation of SNF at international storage sites would resolve only part of the problem. Ultimately, both the front and back ends of the fuel cycle must be designed so as to minimize the actinide and long-lived fission product generation and, at the same time, maximize the proliferation barriers for the fissile components. National and shared international engagement is needed in develop- ing approaches that are responsive in providing for the energy needs of nuclear nations while at the same time ensuring the safe and secure management of SNF and its waste by-products. In closing, it is important to continue to include both governmental and nongovernmental specialists in the debates about spent fuel.