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NNWE urges governments to consider a pan-European standard on spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

1 July 2016

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY POLICY FORUM

NNWE calls for a pan-European standard on spent nuclear fuel

and radioactive waste management

 
Tim Yeo, Chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE) yesterday hosted the first in a series of Brussels-based Nuclear Energy Policy Forum events organised by the nuclear interest group. NNWE supports the need for a pan-European standard on spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management and calls upon industry and governments to collaborate on this key issue within a sensible timeframe.

Commenting on the event, Chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, Tim Yeo said: “The purpose of the Nuclear Energy Policy Forum is to tackle the key technical issues facing the European nuclear industry today. NNWE recognises the advantages a pan-European standard on spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management could offer and urges governments to consider working more quickly towards these ends.”

Within the next decade it is estimated that around 45% of the nuclear reactors currently in operation across Europe will shut down. Consequently, there is increasing interest in the back-end of the fuel cycle and much debate over the associated challenges.

At yesterday’s event, attended by representatives from across the EU Institutions and the nuclear sector, delegates addressed the state of play, successes and challenges of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management in Europe. After hearing from Tim Yeo, Chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe; Pierre Kockerols, Senior Expert Nuclear Safety and Security, European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC); Miroslav Zimermann, First Secretary Energy Policy Unit at the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic; Guillaume Gillet, Counsellor for Nuclear Affairs at the Permanent Representation of France; Anna Rak, Associate Member of Greens of Ukraine Association; and Jiri Marek, Consultant and President of the Association of Nuclear Veterans, the key question of whether or not it is time to establish a pan-European standard on spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management was broached.

In a lively debate, participants and speakers put forward their views with the majority being in favour of the idea of a pan-European standard, but with flexibility for nation states to decide on their own in line with subsidiarity. Other notable discussion points centred around the need for increased public engagement wherever nuclear developments and waste management plans occur and how the industry is seeing cost reductions at the back-end of the fuel cycle as expertise and best practice is shared.

Pierre Kockerols, Senior Expert Nuclear Safety and Security, European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) gave an overview of JRC work commitments, advocating that: “Following the European Waste Directive, nuclear spent fuel management policies need to be established to generate robust technical solutions, ensuring continuity of knowledge, securing investments and facilitating public dialogue.”

Miroslav Zimermann, First Secretary Energy Policy Unit at the Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic, speaking on the agenda of the Slovakian EU Presidency (July 1), commented on the importance of nuclear for Slovakian, and European, energy security, stating: “Public support for nuclear technology is still high, and one of priorities for our Presidency is focusing on revision of regulations under article 41 of EUEAROM treaty and new Nuclear Illustrative Programme PINC”.

Touching upon French priorities, Guillaume Gillet, Counsellor for Nuclear Affairs at the Permanent Representation of France said: “France has made the choice of a closed loop cycle for the management of radioactive waste, considering that spent fuel is a valuable energy resource and reprocessing also helps reduce volume and activity of waste. National programmes are imperative in each Member State and have to be shared at European level in order to allow an exchange of experiences, ensuring that there is an equal standard in radioactive waste management”.

Anna Rak, Associate Member of Greens of Ukraine Association stated: “We believe that there should be a common standard [for spent nuclear fuel management], not just for the EU, but also for other European countries – particularly Ukraine. We are deeply concerned by the plans to secretly fast-track construction of a surface dry spent nuclear fuel storage system just 70km away from Kyiv, close to the Dnieper river, which ignores basic nuclear safety standards, creating the threat of a second Chernobyl. We urge the EU to intervene and call for an open independent environmental review. Europe cannot afford to let officials in countries with less developed democratic and civil society institutions play fast and loose with nuclear safety for the sake of political, and sometimes even personal, gain”.

Closing the debate, Jiri Marek, Consultant and President of the Association of Nuclear Veterans highlighted the need for further public and stakeholder collaboration, commentating that: “[The] core issue is public communication and developing an understanding of who is responsible for the protection and safety of waste repositories in the long-term future.”

Tim Yeo added: “The nuclear power industry faces both challenges and opportunities, but there is no doubt in my mind that nuclear has a place in the future energy mix of Europe. Nuclear can help to deliver a balanced energy mix for future generations, which provides secure and affordable, low carbon electricity.”

“At NNWE we want to ensure that contracts for new nuclear power stations are awarded in a way which delivers the greatest benefit in the fairest manner, to local communities, as well as to consumers and national governments”

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Vanessa Pine

T: +44 (0)7779 151720

E: contact@newnuclerwatch.eu

 

Ed Gavaghan

T: +44 (0)771 4283858

E: contact@newnuclerwatch.eu

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

  1. NNWE was founded at the end of 2014 to help ensure nuclear power is recognised as an important and desirable way for European governments to provide affordable, secure, low carbon energy and help to meet the long-term energy needs of their citizens.
  2. Membership of NNWE is open to all companies, individuals and organisations active in the nuclear industry including those involved in the supply chain. More information is available at www.newnuclearwatch.eu
  3. Tim Yeo is Chair of New Nuclear Watch Europe and the University of Sheffield Industrial Advisory Board for the Energy 2050 initiative. He is a former Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and was Chair of the Environmental Audit Select Committee from 2005-2010 and then Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee from 2010-2015.
  4. The Nuclear Energy Policy Forum, organised by NNWE, aims to shine a spotlight on the critical challenges facing the European nuclear industry.