Spent Fuel Conference highlights public engagement and transparency

At the conclusion of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Spent Fuel Management Conference last week, the importance of engaging communities and having transparency measures in spent fuel programs was discussed.

Nuclear professionals met in Vienna for the five-day conference, where it was noted that the nuclear energy industry needs to ensure that the public and stakeholders understand that nuclear energy is a safe and reliable source of energy. Part of this would be gaining trust in spent fuel programs through public education, engagement and transparency measures.

Through the participants of the conference, it is clear that polarizing opinions exist on nuclear energy and the storage methods of spent fuel that it produces.

“We haven't resolved the optimum approach this week, and in fact that optimum approach may be different for each country, however having the discussion here enables the benefits and challenges for each option to be highlighted and discussed,” Conference Chair and member of the National Nuclear Laboratory in the United Kingdom Fiona Rayment said.

Nuclear energy is expected to play an expanding role in global energy supply and, with that, more spent fuel will also need to be safely managed and stored. Rayment said an integrated approach to deal with spent fuel is an important part of developing a successful nuclear program over a long-term period.

Participants also heard of updates of high-level waste depositories that are being developed in Sweden and Finland. They would be the first nations to store used fuel and other hazardous waste products deep underground.

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International Atomic Energy Agency

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