B.2 Review of Remediation Plans and Activities for Uranium Mining and Milling Sites
Uranium mining and processing operations produce significant quantities of radioactive mill tailings which remain after the decommissioning and closure of the operation. Many countries have both legacy uranium mining sites that were created at a time when regulatory supervision of operations was weak or absent and are also struggling to regulate new uranium mining operations. The legacy issues arose from past operating practices which were not remediated and closed in accordance with current international standards. Many of these legacy sites are located in countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa − countries which have poorly developed or limited regulatory resources and limited knowledge of remediation issues and activities. In addition, many of these countries share common issues such as the abandonment of the sites by the original operators, and ineffective, or an absence of, institutional controls over the fate of the mill tailings.
To provide regulators in countries with operating and uranium legacy sites with the knowledge and tools to review remediation plans and to regulate remediation activities.
The project enhances the regulatory framework for countries that have operating and legacy uranium production sites in the area of regulatory review and planning for remediation, waste management and the radiation protection of local populations living close to these sites.
- A transfer of knowledge regarding the regulatory oversight of the remediation of operating and legacy uranium producing operations;
- Improved regulatory oversight of the remediation of operating and legacy uranium mines over the next 10-15 years, and a reduction of potential exposure to workers and the public, as well as prevention of future legacy issues.
Beneficiary Countries: Member States in Africa
This project is part of the IAEA’s approved Programme and Budget for 2014-15 and is included under IAEA Project 22.214.171.124 on “Decommissioning and Remediation Safety”. The project is conducted by the IAEA with supplementary funding from the European Union.
Technical Documents and Training Materials
The IAEA draft TECDOC on “Project on Review of Remediation Plans and Activities for Uranium Mining and Milling Sites” and associated training materials provide guidance for the relevant authorities on what they should expect to see contained within a remediation plan for legacy sites and how they should review and ultimately approve such plans. This guidance may also be used for older facilities that are still operating, where remediation will eventually be required as part of the decommissioning process, and for legacy sites from the mining and processing of radioactive minerals other than uranium ore.
The draft TECDOC and associated training materials focus primarily on the review of remediation plans for legacy sites. Such sites are associated with exploration for uranium ore and its subsequent mining and processing, and vary from small scale exploratory boreholes and shallow pits to larger scale open pit or underground mining operations complete with processing facilities and large tailings management areas. Although targeted at the relevant authorities, the draft TECDOC will also be useful for facility operators and policy makers, as well as public interest groups. Based upon recent experience with TC training events, the draft TECDOC and lecture materials are being updated at an IAEA consultancy to be held in Vienna, 4-8 December 2017. After this consultancy the draft TECDOC will be submitted for publication.
On the basis of this draft TECDOC, 24 Power Point presentations with lecture notes and 3 exercises were elaborated. Click here to see the Syllabus.
All developed materials follow the attached scheme:
Technical Meeting to present and review the draft technical document and training materials on “Review of Remediation Plans and Activities for Uranium Mining and Milling Sites” (TM- TM-49515), IAEA, Vienna, 9 – 13 March 2015.
Regional Training Workshops
The First Regional Training Workshop on Review of Remediation Plans and Activities for Uranium Mining and Milling Sites (TR-48455) for English-speaking African countries took place from 21-25 Sept 2015 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
In the Regional Training Workshop participated twenty five participants from 10 IAEA Member States: Botswana (1), Kenya (2), Malawi (6), Namibia (2), Nigeria (2), South Africa (2), Sudan (2), United Republic of Tanzania (2), Zambia (2) and Zimbabwe (2). In addition 3 external experts from Canada, Germany and Netherlands as well as one IAEA staff member participated in the Training Workshop.
The workshop was welcomed and very successful in transferring knowledge on remediation of legacy mining and milling sites, including but not limited to uranium production. This workshop also served as an opportunity for participating countries to exchange and share information on their national status.
The Second Regional Training Workshop on Review of Remediation Plans and Activities for Uranium Mining and Milling Sites (TR-49589) for French-speaking African countries took place from 12-16 Oct 2015 in Rabat, Morocco.
In the Regional Training Workshop participated nineteen participants from 8 IAEA Member States: Cameroun (2), Central Africa Republic (2), Congo (2), Gabon (1), Mali (2), Morocco (6), Niger (2) and Senegal (2). In addition 3 external experts from France participated in the Training Workshop.
Overall, the course was very successful and timely as mentioned in the feedback questionnaires. Participants left the training with a good understanding of the different steps to be taken towards the elaboration of a remediation plan in a simple and not expensive manner and how to find out other sources of information. This workshop also served as an opportunity for participating countries to exchange and share information on their national status. Everybody agreed that the exercises as well as the opportunities to exchange information among the participants and with the lecturers had bene highly useful; the workshop was experienced as having taken place in a “friendly/good willing and relaxed climate”.
Regional Meeting on Prevention of future legacy sites in Uranium mining and processing (TM-52562) took place from 14-15 December 2015 in Vienna and was held in conjunction with Project B.2. The meeting was organized specifically for senior management representatives from African Member States from the nuclear regulatory body and/or any other national competent authorities who participate in the governmental policy decision making process.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide senior governmental decision makers in African Member States that have uranium mining and milling facilities, either in planning or in operation, with the information needed for establishing sound policies, regulatory frameworks and infrastructure to achieve sustainable levels of safety compatible with the requirements of the IAEA Safety Standards and with the objective to prevent future legacy sites.
In the Regional Meeting participated twelve participants from 9 IAEA Member States: Cameroon (1), Congo (1), Gabon (1), Madagascar (1), Malawi (1), Mali (2), Niger (2), Tanzania (1) and Uganda (2). In addition 3 external experts from Australia, Canada and United State as well as one IAEA staff member participated in the Regional Meeting.
It was noticed that African Member States should fast-track the establishment of a policy framework for uranium mining including the elaboration of a national strategy, legislation addressing the authorization of uranium (and nuclear) activities, and appropriate regulations supporting that legislation in order to reduce risk associated with these activities and prevent uranium legacy situations. African Member States recognized the importance of gaining the commitment of decision makers and, ultimately, their governments, to establish their policy, legal and regulatory frameworks and concluded that it would be necessary that their efforts to encourage action from within their organizations should be complemented by continued efforts by the IAEA to bring the matter the attention of Ministers.
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