International institutions coordinate a range of activities with concern to the field of radioactive waste management, initiate legislative and regulatory activities and, not least, create the conditions for meetings between experts and the exchange of information. It is therefore important to maintain contact with and, to a reasonable extent, to engage in the activities of such organisations. SÚRAO as a government agency with a mission to ensure the safe storage of radioactive waste in the Czech Republic represents both an authoritative and representative partner for, and already works closely with, many such organisations. As an integral part of the organisational structure of the State, SÚRAO fully respects the institutional role of official contact with government institutions such as the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB).
IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)
The IAEA is an international agency related to the United Nations and serves as the world’s leading inter-governmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation with respect to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Its main objective is “to enhance and disseminate the contribution of nuclear energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”. The IAEA has introduced an integrated programme with respect to the field of radioactive waste management which provides support to member states particularly concerning the dissemination and organisation of the exchange of technical, safety and legal information, the provision of guidance, technical assistance and training and the promotion of research and development in this area. The SÚJB is the competent authority in the Czech Republic with regard to the coordination of contact with the IAEA. SÚRAO is involved in the preparation of materials, the coordination of research programmes and the selection of technical experts to sit on technical committees and take part in IAEA missions, including participation in consultancy meetings and advisory groups. SÚRAO is also a member of the DISPONET network of low- and intermediate-level waste repository operators.
With the support of the IAEA, the Underground Research Facility Network provides training courses in the field of radioactive waste management including courses held at the Centre for Experimental Geotechnics (CEG) of the Czech Technical University at the Josef Underground Educational Facility. SÚRAO fully supports these activities and complements the educational programme with excursions for participants to its various nuclear facilities.
SÚRAO also participates in many projects concerning security organised by the IAEA, e.g. the PRISM project, focusing on the application of procedures and input data when assessing the safety of near-surface repositories and the GEOSAF project, which addresses methods for the assessment of the interaction between the operational and long-term safety of deep geological repositories, the meetings of both of which are attended by Ing. S. Konopásková, CSc.
OECD/NEA (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency)
The OECD/NEA organisation was established in 1958 to support the development of the scientific, technological and legal aspects of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes through international cooperation. The agency serves as a forum for the exchange of information between specialists, helps to harmonise national legislation, creates common standpoints on key technical issues and supports consultation on the nuclear programmes of member states. The agency works closely with the IAEA and other international organisations in this field.
With respect to the field of radioactive waste management, the agency organises a range of programmes focused on selected issues which are funded by the various participants. The role of the NEA/OECD consists essentially in determining the direction and supporting the joint activities of member states and associated countries aimed at both the enhancement and coordination of expert knowledge in the field.
As far as the Czech Republic is concerned, the Ministry of Industry and Trade makes up the competent authority in terms of the coordination of relations with the NEA and nominates Czech representative to the agency’s various committees. SÚRAO specialists represent the Czech Republic in the RWMC and IGSC and FSC working groups. Moreover, SÚRAO organises the participation of Czech representatives in selected research projects (TDB, FSC, SP, RepMet, RK&M) and workshops.
RWMC (Radioactive Waste Management Committee)
The RWMC makes up the NEA’s management committee in the field of radioactive waste management and is composed of representatives from 23 OECD member countries as well as IAEA and EC representatives. The RWMC coordinates the activities of permanent working groups and the ad hoc establishment of so-called task groups. SÚRAO’s involvement in this group is managed by its section 4000 and meetings are attended by Ing. I. Pospíšková.
IGSC (Integration Group for Safety Case)
This Group manages the implementation of programmes related to the safety evaluation of deep geological repositories. SÚRAO’s involvement in this group is managed by its section 3000 and meetings are attended by Ing. S. Konopásková, CSc.
FSC (Forum on Stakeholder Confidence)
This forum for discussion on the credibility of deep geological disposal technologies for all stakeholders was established in 2000 with the aim of intensifying the exchange of information on the progress of negotiations held in the context of radioactive waste management. Meetings are attended by representatives of national ministries (at the heads of department or section level) of those countries in which the ministries directly manage or approve the process of communication with the general public. Furthermore, the FSC is attended by representatives of regulatory authorities, waste producers, organisations that provide for waste disposal, and “non-technical” stakeholders such as representatives of local councils, representatives of environmental associations, local and regional civic initiatives, experts in sociology and communications, and other interested persons and groups. The Forum consists of a platform for the exchange of the views and experiences of a range of institutions and other groups from OECD member countries. Participants provide their own analysis and generalisations which serve as a guide for future work. In addition to the meetings attended by permanent delegates, seminars are organised with invited speakers from outside the field of radioactive waste (politicians, community leaders, environmentalists, sociologists, etc.). SÚRAO’s involvement in this group is managed by its sections 1700 and 1000
TDB (Thermodynamic database)
The TDB project is aimed at gathering thermodynamic data on selected elements contained in radioactive waste. The data is collected for use in the advanced modelling and analysis of the behaviour of the storage system. Information is collected in the form of publications which are made available to those responsible for the procurement of SÚRAO-supported research and development projects. Phase IV of the project is currently underway, to which SÚRAO contributes EUR 10.000 per year. SÚRAO’s involvement in this project is managed by its section 3000 and meetings are attended by Ing. S. Konopásková CSc.
EC (European Commission)
Most of the Commission’s activities in the field of the peaceful use of nuclear energy are ensured on the basis of Euratom agreements. The Commission actively creates relationships between individual states and international organisations and provides them with the opportunity to disseminate technical information from research and development, particularly with respect to the deep geological disposal of radioactive waste.
The radioactive waste management programme provides for:
- the continuous technical analysis of the situation in the field of radioactive waste management and the provision of updated information on the status of related work and achievements in all EU member states,
- the inspection of measures which are designed to ensure the long-term or permanent storage of radioactive waste under optimum conditions,
- consultation so as to ensure the maximum benefit from national and international programmes and programmes organised by the EC,
- the continuity of EC research and development programmes through framework plans for the support of science and research,
- the provision of information to the general public.
SÚRAO monitors the activities of the INLA (International Nuclear Law Association) organisation, an international association of lawyers specialising in nuclear issues established in 1970. The association aims to create and modify legal documents relating to the peaceful use of nuclear energy with respect to the protection of persons and the environment and to promote the exchange of information and cooperation between its members. SÚRAO has its own representative in one of the association’s working groups which is preparing documentation for legislation in the field of radioactive waste management. SÚRAO’s involvement in this project is managed by its section 2000 (Ing. V. Duda, MBA).
SÚRAO also monitors the activities and publications of other institutions (UNSCEAR - United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, ICRP - International Commission on Radiological Protection, WHO - World Health Organisation), but is not directly involved in the activities of these organisations.