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RSLS Meetings

International Working Forum on Regulatory Supervision of Legacy Sites - Fifth Annual Technical Meeting

9 to 13 February 2015, Vienna, Austria




Background

Legacy sites present unique challenges in that they:

  • are existing sites
  • were generally poorly managed (by today’s standards)
  • are sometimes in an abandoned and/or uncontrolled state
  • present a situation where remediation is needed but the necessary regulatory infrastructure is lacking
  • have safety concerns that require appreciable financial resources to address

Past commercial and military uses of radioactive material led to the development of many nuclear facilities worldwide. In many countries, these facilities were built and operated before appropriate regulatory infrastructure was in place to ensure they were decommissioned at the end of their useful life. As such, many countries now have abandoned nuclear facilities or areas where spills or accidents have occurred that are contaminated with radioactive and toxic residues that pose substantial environmental and health concerns.

The International Working Forum on Regulatory Supervision of Legacy Sites (RSLS) focuses on means to better regulate legacy sites and facilities, and means to prevent the creation of new legacy sites through policy measures and strong independent regulatory oversight.
The overall objective of RSLS is to promote effective and efficient regulatory supervision of legacy sites, consistent with the IAEA Fundamental Safety Principles, IAEA Safety Standards and international good practice. This is achieved through exchange of information on legacy sites and through the generation of mutual support through the activities of the Forum.

The modus operandi of RSLS has been to hold annual meetings to discuss issues related to the scope of the Forum, and to organize annual workshops that focus on management challenges at specific legacy sites.

Meeting Summary 

The fifth annual meeting of the RSLS Forum was held at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, 9-13 February 2015. The meeting focused on:

  • planning the next 3-year cycle of the RSLS Forum
  • reviewing the draft TECDOC that documents work completed by the three RSLS working groups over the first three year cycle
  • disseminating information on regulation of legacy sites

The first two days of the meeting were dedicated to familiarizing participants with the current version of the RSLS TECDOC and soliciting input thereon through focused discussion. Additional time for participants to compile comments on the TECDOC was allotted at the end of the meeting. The next three days were dedicated to planning the future direction of the Forum. A series of presentations related to legacy site programmes at the IAEA and a presentation on the Norwegian bi-lateral programme of assistance provided perspectives on ongoing legacy site management activities. The Terms-of-Reference for RSLS were discussed at length and potential future activities under the Forum were tabled for discussion.

The Terms-of-Reference for the Forum will remain unchanged. The scope of RSLS will expand to include some non-uranium mining legacies. The format of RSLS activities may shift to place more emphasis on practical examples and less emphasis on gathering of existing information. The RSLS Steering Committee will draft a work plan for the next three years, taking into account input provided by participants.
The meeting was attended by representatives from 24 Member States of the IAEA.  The agenda and a list of participants for the annual meeting are attached.

Recurring themes at the meeting were:

  • The desire to expand the scope of the Forum beyond uranium legacy issues, while still retaining an interest in uranium.
  • An interest in exploring legacy issues pertaining to NORM.
  • Agreement that the current frequency of one Technical Meeting and one Workshop per year was appropriate.
  • Interest in inspector training for staff of authorities who regulate legacy sites.
  • The notion of “legacy site” it is best defined by general characteristics rather than by explicit definition.
  • The TECDOC has achieved its goal of capturing and presenting information on the topics addressedby the three RSLS working groups. The TECDOC needs to be updated to reflect recent changes in some countries. The Steering Committee will review and consolidate any comments received and send it out to RSLS participants for final review. The TECDOC will then be prepared for publication.

The Forum recommended that:

  • the RSLS terms of reference remains unchanged
  • a work plan for the next three year cycle be developed and distributed to participants
  • IAEA documents and standards pertaining to legacy sites should be identified and made available to participants
  • consideration should be given to organizing thematic workshops. For example a legacy NORM workshop, or a workshop on radium industry legacies
  • the TECDOC should be completed through a consultancy in Q4 of 2015 (e.g., of the Steering Committee)

The next workshop for RSLS is planned for 7-11 September 2015 in Romania.  Details will be announced on this website.

The International Forum for Regulatory Supervision (RSLS) is open to all IAEA Member States and is a means to support regulatory bodies worldwide. New members are welcome.

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| Last update: Thursday, 15 October, 2015.