Since 2001 the International Atomic Energy Agency has championed the concept and use of Networks to advance radioactive waste management across the globe. At the present time there are four Networks managed on behalf of Member States by the IAEA and a fifth one is currently being implemented. The scopes of interest covered by the Networks encompass near-surface and deep geological disposal, the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, the environmental remediation of sites contaminated with radioactive materials and the characterisation of low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes. To date over 100 organisations from more than 40 Member States are involved in the Networks. Many of these Network participants generously donate resources, time and effort to support Network activities, while others with nascent or otherwise less well developed programmes are still in the process of acquiring experience, capabilities and know-how. Regardless of the stage of development, all Network participants share in the mutual benefits that arise from improved communications with sister organisations and the sharing of experience and knowledge. The universal Goal of the Networks is the promotion of methods and technologies that will enhance the safety and sustainability of radioactive waste management practices and facilities. This Goal is being achieved through continuous improvements in communication and knowledge sharing between Network participants and the provision of enhanced opportunities for training, involvement in demonstration projects and the development of novel technologies and methodologies. We recognise that interdisciplinary understanding and the coordination of efforts at key interfaces at the back-end of the fuel cycle are critical aspects for achieving the Network Goal efficiently and effectively. Consequently, the IAEA Networks that will be operational by the end of 2010 are themselves are being molded into an organic “Network of Networks” where the use of new electronic media and the possibilities presented by enhanced communication channels will be exploited. Here we provide an overview of the IAEA Networks in radioactive waste management and present a new tool that is under development, an internet-based portal for enhanced communications and the provision of improved training opportunities.

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