The Global Regime for the Management of

The Global Regime for the
Management of Nuclear Waste
© Elli Louka
Presentation at the School of INTERECOLAW,
October 2012
Fukushima Accident
The Spent Fuel Pool, Unit 3
The Nuclear Fuel Cycle: the BackEnd
Nuclear Graveyards for Nuclear
Submarines: the UK
Nuclear Protests
Nuclear Protests 2
Is Mongolia the Answer?
Illegal Markets, Loose Nukes
From January 1993 to December 2011, a total of 2164 incidents were reported to the
 399 involved unauthorized possession and related criminal activities. Incidents
included in this category involved illegal possession, movement or attempts to
illegally trade in or use nuclear material or radioactive sources
 16 incidents involved high enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium
 588 incidents involved the theft or loss of nuclear or other radioactive material
 124 cases involved other unauthorized activities, including the unauthorized disposal
of radioactive materials or discovery of uncontrolled sources
Nuclear Waste Regime: treaties
and instruments
on Nuclear
Protection of
on SNF
Codes of
Conduct and
Joint Convention SNF and NW:
Basic Goals and Ambivalence
 High level of safety on SNF and NW
 Effective defenses against hazards coming from radiation
 Prevention of nuclear accidents
 Convention does not apply to military wastes but it applies to
military waste transferred from military programs to civil
 Debate: reprocessing; transit state notification; public
participation (preamble); technical cooperation (preamble);
regional repositories versus disposal at the source (preamble)
 Lack of traditional enforcementinstead peer review mechanism
Convention of SNF and NW: 4 types
of states (about 60 state parties)
 States with major nuclear power programs
 States with large amounts of waste
 States with large amounts of uranium mine tailings
 States with hospital wastes and disused sealed sources
Convention on SNF and NW: issues
for states
 Mixed wastes (hazardous+radioactive)
 Storage of spent fuel in reactors or storage facilities pending permanent disposal
(Spent fuel at pools is not as safe as assumed, see Fukushima)
Permanent Storage with the Possibility of Retrieval (see Japan’s seismic territory)
Permanent Disposal: The agonizing experience of finding a permanent repository
(money, public opposition)
The Decommissioning of nuclear installations and facilities (timeframe—money)—
immediate decommissioning a preferred option
Disused sealed sources or orphan sources (inventories, databases needed)—return to
manufacturer a good practice (if you can find her). By 2006 some countries have
started tracking systems and national registries
Repatriation of spent fuel from overseas research reactors
Comprehensive cradle-to-grave services
Current Practices
Most states have facilities for certain categories of waste (low level)
In some states consultations with the public under way
Some states have no plans
States with small amounts of nuclear waste prefer regional options
Few countries send their wastes to other countries
Some countries store wastes in pools pending decision on long term disposal
Other countries prefer to engage in processing to recover plutonium and
• States have declared that public participation is better than “decide, announce
and defend” attitude
• States tend not to report on the safety of spent fuel that is in storage in their
nuclear power plants
• Classification. What is nuclear waste? Which category?criteria differ among
Good Practices
 Development of comprehensive regulatory framework
 Effective independence of the regulatory body
 Implementation strategies with visible milestones
 Funding to secure waste management
 Education; competent staff and employees
 Geological repositories for high level waste
 National strategies for the management of disused sealed sources identifying
the legal responsibilities of manufacturers, suppliers, owners and users of
sealed sources for their end-of-life management (reentry of disused sources into
the territory of the manufacturer, a retrieval approach of disused sources having
a national origin from a foreign state)
Nuclear Safety and Physical
Convention on Nuclear Safety
 State with jurisdiction over a
nuclear installation has
responsibility for such installation
(including licensing the operator)
 There is overlap between Nuclear
Safety Convention and Convention
on SNF and NW when states
choose to store SNF at nuclear
power plants.
 Peer review meetings
Convention on Physical Protection
 Keep nuclear material+NW out of
the hands of terrorists
 Principles: state responsibility;
independent regulatory authority;
primary responsibility of license
holders; several layers of defense
(technical, personnel, organization)
to be defeated before getting access
to nuclear material
 Quality assurance programs,
emergency plans
 Confidentiality of information
Codes of Conduct
 IAEA Principles of Radioactive Waste Management
 IAEA Code of Practice on the International Transboundary Movements of
Radioactive Waste (provides for notification+consent of the transit states-like Basel
but unlike the Joint Convention)
 IAEA Safety Standards for Protecting People and the Environment—all nuclear
power facilities must have in place a defense in depth– a combination of
independent and consecutive levels of protection (defense barriers) that would have
to fail before radiation reaches people and the environment
 IAEA recommendations on the physical protection of nuclear materials and the
design basis threat—the level of preparedness needed to stop the unauthorized
access to nuclear facilities (well armed outsiders with access to insiders, armed
 International Code for the Safe Carriage of SNF, Plutonium and HNW on Board of
Ships (INF Code)
Accidents + Liability
Secrecy versus Transparency
 No detailed locations and local
 the public has the right to
inventories of SNF and NW
because of security
 Confidentiality of information
regarding the physical protection of
nuclear material (see convention on
the physical protection of nuclear
 Energy policies have to do with
national security
know where all nuclear
facilities are located,
especially peoples
located close to these
Right to Information + Participation
in International Law
PP, Representative Democracy
and Direct Democracy
Implementation of Right to
Information/Access to Justice
The OSPAR arbitration case. What Ireland perceived as its right to information
 Estimated annual production at the MOX facility
 Sales volumes
 Probability of achieving higher sales volumes
 Probability to get contracts to recycle fuel in significant quantities
 Estimated sales demand
 Percentage of plutonium already on site
 Maximum throughput figures
 Lifespan of MOX facility
 Number of employees
 Price of MOX fuel
 Arrangements to transfer spent fuel to Sellafield and MOX from Sellafield and the
number of shipments needed.
Yucca Mountain: United States
Yucca Mountain: United States
Giant Casks: United States
Finland’s Onkalo Permanent
Disposal Site
How Did they Do that? PP in
 Decisions in principle (2001 Parliament ratified decision in principle for disposal facility
at Olkiluoto, Eurajoki. In 1983 decision in principle to exclude storage as long-term
option for permanent waste disposal)
 Competition between two municipalities
 Local authoritiescoordinators
 Private consultantsmediators
 Unbiased state authority on the side of municipality in terms of health (Finnish Radiation
and Nuclear Safety Authority)
Diverse stakeholders (electric utility, disposal company, national/regional/local
authorities, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Environment, researchers from
universities, local opposition movements)
The debate on final disposal was de-linked from the political debate about the future of
nuclear energy
Economic incentives
Local community retained veto power and could withdraw from the process
Yes but…
The success of Finland may have to do with the idiosyncrasies of the country technological enthusiasm
 energy independence, geopolitical stability
 self-sufficiency, morality and national pride (neither imports nor export of NW,
nuclear energy for domestic needs, low carbon society)
Moreover, not everybody is happy
 Weakness of opposition movements (both Olkiluoto and Lovisa good record with
LLW and ILW interim storage facilities). Opposition movements did not have money
to hire experts
 Minimal participation. Participation fatigue. Cannot influence decisions
 Some institutions like Ministry of Trade and Industry not neutral. Disposal company
run advertising campaign
It is debatable whether lessons learnt in Finland can be translated in other countries (eg
Germany) that may have a history of ferocious anti-nuclear protests.
The Devil’s Advocate
Best Case Scenario
Worst Case Scenario
 Pragmatism, technology
 Ignore values+politics
 Consultants as independent mediators
 Consultants as stooge for companies
 Local authorities initiators, coordinators
 Local authorities as contact points
 State stakeholder, impartial
 State shareholder, partial
 State neutral, the public good
 Industry-administration alliance
 Find the best solution
 Bias for consensus (procedure)
 Engagement of stakeholders
 A sales show
 NGOs and the average citizen
 NGOs only
 Standardization, Internationalization,
 Routinization, ritualization.
and Legalization
Formalized procedures do not meet
the needs of public
Legality and Legitimacy
Instead of Conclusion
 Trailer of “Into Eternity”
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