Much remains to be done in terms of addressing the legacies from the early development of nuclear energy, including the dismantling of redundant research and fuel cycle facilities, research reactors and nuclear power plants, and the remediation of former nuclear sites and those affected by past uranium mining and processing operations, by other activities involving the use of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) or by major nuclear or radiological accidents. Long term solutions often still need to be found for management of the resulting waste, including the development of disposal facilities that meet public acceptance and safety requirements. Some countries are moving forward with dealing with these legacies, and accordingly have built up appropriate technical resources and expertise, but many national programmes still face very significant challenges.
The last major conferences organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) relevant to the above topics took place in Athens, Greece (2006: decommissioning) and in Astana, Kazakhstan (2009: environmental remediation). In the meantime, significant developments in these areas have taken place in some countries and therefore it is timely to discuss the implications for relevant programmes and to exchange recent experiences on these topics. The proposal to combine the two subjects in one conference is a recognition that significant synergies exist between the two activities, which should be explored to foster and optimize the implementation of both decommissioning and environmental remediation worldwide.
The conference will share and review challenges, achievements and lessons learned related to the decommissioning and environmental remediation programmes that have been implemented during the past decade. Key goals will include raising awareness of the importance of addressing the legacies from past activities, identifying current priority needs and providing recommendations on the strategies and approaches that can enable and enhance safe, secure and cost-effective implementation of national and international programmes during the next one to two decades.