Technical, environmental and safety aspects of decommissioning and legacy management

As many nuclear power plants will reach the end of their operative lives over the next 20 years, decommissioning is an increasingly significant topic for governments, regulators and industries. Due to the high innovation speed of technologies in the area of nuclear decommissioning as well as potential synergies of developments in other areas (e.g. oil and gas, robotics, etc.), it is very important to promote exchange, foster joint undertakings and promote international co-operation in this area. Lessons learnt in the increasing decommissioning experience and applicability extrapolation on a large number of projects allows improvements for the state of the art and promotes further development to resolve complex challenges in decommissioning. This also accelerates the long-lasting process and promotes the total efficiency of projects. In parallel, it is imperative to ensure that such technologies are environmentally and radiologically safe, as well as in accordance with regulatory standards before deployment in timely manner.

Related news
Publications and reports
NEA work on this topic

The Committee on Decommissioning of Nuclear installations and Legacy Management (CDLM) , established in 2018, has been working to identify various issues that should be considered during decommissioning of various nuclear facilities and sites. In order to promote its long-term projects comprehensively, the CDLM will launch various working groups in the coming years to explore the technical, environmental and safety aspects of decommissioning in detail by looking at management of materials, including: 

  • reuseand recycling
  • characterisation of sites and facilities
  • data validation and uncertainty management
  • decontamination strategy
  • applicable innovative technologies
  • R&D

Previous work in this area

In previous years, before the CDLM was created, the former Working Party on Decommissioning and Dismantling (WPDD) under the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) tackled related issues by bringing experts together under the following groups:

  • Task Group on Preparing for Decommissioning during Operation and after Final Shutdown (TGPFD)
  • Task Group on Optimising Management of Low-level Radioactive Materials and Waste from Decommissioning (TGOM)
  • Task Group on Radiological Characterisation and Decommissioning (TGRCD)
  • Task Group on Nuclear Site Restoration (TGNSR)

The International Co-operative Programme for the Exchange of Scientific and Technical Information on Nuclear Installation Decommissioning Projects (CPD)  also conducted several studies in this area, most recently on recycling and reuse of materials.

Initiated by the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC), the Expert Group on the Application of Robotics and Remote Systems in the Nuclear Back-end (EGRRS) is extending its area to include decommissioning applications in their programme of work.