Welcome address to the
Eastern and Central European Decommissioning (ECED) 2013 conference
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to be here today on behalf of the Slovak Nuclear Society and as Chairman of the ECED Program Cmmittee and to have the chance to address you at this Eastern and Central European Decommissioning 2013 conference.
We decided to organise an international conference focused on decommissioning and this event is the culmination of that effort. This key topic seems to have recently been given heightened importance by the decisions made by several governments in Europa to shut-down certain NPPs for a variety of different reasons. After the Fukushima accident and its impact on public opinion worldwide, European countries will doubtless consider decommissioning an increased the number of units and facilities.
We are pleased to note from your presence here today that you are genuinely interested in this important issue. We also appreciate that almost all important institutions and companies active in the Slovak or European nuclear power engineering and/or decommissioning sector are taking part in our conference and have delegated their most senior managers and experts to represent them here. This topical conference is organized under auspices of the Ministry of the Economy of the Slovak Republic. Our challenge is to make ECED2013 as stimulating, cost effective, and constructive for participants as possible, and thereby make it essential for you to join us for the next conferenc as well.
Nuclear safety and security are absolute priorities for the EU and this applies, of course, not only to NPPs operation but also to decommissioning activities. Nuclear decommissioning is already an industrial reality and the significant growth of the decommissioning market is to be further expected. Out of more than 560 nuclear power plants that have been built worldwide 130 reactors are permanently shut down. A large number of various types of research facilities have also become obsolete and have been shut down too. Today, only about 10% of all shut-down plants have been fully decommissioned, the rest being at different stages of safe enclosure, dismantling and decommissioning.
In the EU a total of 133 nuclear power plant units are currently in operation; about one third of them will have reached the end of their operational lifetime and will be in decommissioning by 2025. Moreover, after the disaster in Fukushima, Germany, one of Europe’s biggest operators of nuclear power, shut down 8 out of its 17 reactors and is committed to closing the rest by 2022. Other countries, including Japan, also envisage accelerating the closure of their oldest plants. This growing decommissioning market creates a potential for new activities, with highly skilled jobs in an innovative field, involving high-level technologies. A clear global positioning of the EU will stimulate the export of know-how to other countries, especially those having a large nuclear programme, and promote the highest safety levels. The EU "Community acquis" includes key legislation such as the recent COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2011/70/EURATOM establishing the Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, which sets the legal obligations for adequate funding, financial security and transparency applicable to the national waste management systems.
Undoubtedly, strong regulatory supervision is of prime importance to ensure the successful decommissioning of nuclear facilities. The process for the regulatory control and licensing of the decommissioning activities may need to be further developed in some countries to cope with all safety concerns, including the radiological constraints associated with decommissioning, and to ensure optimal waste management.
Decommissioning activities generate large volumes of waste. In order to reduce their costs, environmental impact and the difficulties associated with the later disposal, emphasis has to be given to minimisation, sorting and characteristion. The most adequate processes for treatment and the most appropriate measurement techniques have to be developed and implemented.
The need to maintain and increase competent and qualified staff is a recurrent concern in the nuclear sector. In particular, in view of the growing decommissioning market, it can be expected that industry will involve new actors, including, in some cases, SMEs. The organiation of ad hoc training programs is also essential with a strong link to research and educational organiations.
We wish you all the best in the future and hope that you will enjoy a constructive, fruitful and enjoyable conference.