The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Co-operative Programme for the Exchange of Scientific and Technical Information Concerning Nuclear Installation Decommissioning Projects (CPD) is a joint undertaking of a limited number of organisations, mainly from NEA member countries. The objective of the CPD is to acquire and share information from operational experience in decommissioning nuclear installations that is useful for future projects. The information exchange includes biannual meetings of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and supporting projects on topics. The TAG has decided to form a Task Group to review nuclear site restoration starting in March 2012 that involves nuclear operators, experts and regulators. The group is supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that is leading similar work on legacy sites.
Within NEA Counties, several nuclear sites are being restored for beneficial reuse. Restoration is normally considered the last activity in a sequence of decommissioning steps but increasingly the value of long-term planning and parallel remediation is being recognised. It is essential that regulators know that liabilities are well understood (well characterised) and there is adequate financial provision to carry on the remediation works. Operators are also learning that early intervention is needed to ensure prevention and minimisation of leaks and spills of radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants in order to reduce groundwater and soil contamination, thus reducing overall liabilities and ensuring protection of the environment. Early intervention needs to be guided by good practices that include adequate site characterisation, reliable conceptual models and defined goals. Currently most nuclear site restoration work takes place at the legacy nuclear sites. This work has emphasised the need for better clarity in terms of the regulatory expectations for site restoration. At other nuclear sites the drivers are less evident and there is a risk that land quality issues are overlooked.
The aim of the Task Group is to share information on experiences, approaches and techniques for land quality management at selected nuclear sites to ensure risks to workers and the environment, costs and disruption to decommissioning programmes are minimised. The project will also highlight the successes and lessons to learn from experience of remediation that will be helpful to operational situations on nuclear sites. The paper will report on progress with analysis of national and site level questionnaires and early consideration of case studies. The questionnaires will provide a snapshot of the current status, issues and best practice with site restoration and the case studies will provide in depth illustrations of practice with nuclear site or remediation projects.