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International exchange of experience on the topic of decommissioning

Various international organisations have set up information exchange programmes in terms of decommissioning.

In addition to Germany, also the USA, the United Kingdom and France are among the countries with a large number of decommissioning projects. Furthermore there are a number of countries which, although pursueing nuclear energy programmes, do have little experience with decommissioning or none at all.

Therefore, various international organisations such as

  • the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) based in Vienna,
  • the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), based in Paris,

or, for Europe,

  • the European Commission (EC) and
  • the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA)

have set up information exchange programmes in terms of decommissioning. Members of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BfE) staff take part in some of these programmes. In the following a survey is given of the decommissioning-specific activities of these institutions.


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

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The IAEA’s most decommissioning-relevant activities take place in the Waste and Environmental Safety Section of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. They include

Besides, also the Section on Decommissioning and Remediation of the Department of Nuclear Energy deals with aspects of decommissioning.

  • International Decommissioning Network (IDN)
  • Network on Environmental Management and Remediation (ENVIRONET)

The IDN was founded as a forum for operators and authority representatives with the aim of exchanging practical experiences in the field of decommissioning. Staff members of the BfE take part in the IDN, on the revision of safety standards, and at the Joint Convention.

Particularly noteworthy is the "Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management", which also comprises decommissioning. Each party to the contract is committed to prepare a national report every three years that documents which measures have been taken to implement the liabilities of the Convention. In accordance with its tasks the BfE is participated on generating parts of the report. During the Review Meeting, which also takes place every three years, this report or, respectively, the measures taken are presented by the respective party to the contract and are subsequently discussed. The sixth Review Meeting took place in May 2018.


Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)

The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) is the nuclear authority of the OECD based in Paris. The major part of the works on decommissioning has been assigned to a sub-group, the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC).

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The Working Party on Decommissioning and Dismantling (WPDD), a sub-group of the RWMC, plays a central role in the decommissioning activities. Decommissioning experts from various areas (regulators, operators, service providers et cetera) from OECD states meet in the WPDD, together with representatives of other international organisations such as the IAEA. The works focus on

  • exchange of decommissioning experience,
  • decommissioning strategies,
  • site remediation
  • residue and waste management including the clearance of buildings and substances as well as
  • financing issues.

Further WPDD working groups that have not been mentioned here each deal with selected topics relevant to decommissioning for a certain period of time. BfE staff members take part in the WPDD main meetings held annually.

A joint project of the OECD-NEA relating to decommissioning still needs mentioning, the International Co-operative Programme on Decommissioning (CPD). It serves the exchange of information on the decommissioning operation with existing decommissioning projects for the benefit of future decommissioning projects.

European Commission

European Commission (EC)

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In terms of decommissioning, the European Union (EU) currently mainly orientates politically to the management of funds for decommissioning. Central technical contributions to the development of directives are provided by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group" (ENSREG), which the heads of nuclear authorities of all member states take part in. One of the three ENSREG working groups also deals with decommissioning and observes how the financing of decommissioning and waste management is developing in the member states. The ENSREG reports to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

Furthermore the Commission has established a Nuclear Decommissioning Assistance Programme which provides financial support to decommissioning projects in Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria according to their accession treaties. More information is available on the website of the Energy Commissariat.


Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA)

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The Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA) is a consortium of the managing directors of the nuclear regulatory authorities of Western Europe with the objective to harmonise the requirements on the safety of nuclear facilities. For this purpose, international rules for the safety of nuclear facilities – so-called "reference levels" – are set up, which can be adopted correspondingly and executed by the national legislators. The WENRA develops reference levels for the fields of reactor safety, decommissioning and radioactive waste management.

The Working Group on Waste and Decommissioning (WGWD) developed and resolved upon the reference levels for safety in the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. On this basis, national action plans are to be developed which provide for those reference levels that have not been implemented yet in the respective set of rules being incorporated in the national set of rules on a voluntary basis.

State of 2017.05.29

© Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management