A project launched this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to take a global approach to decommissioning damaged nuclear power plants.

The International Project on Decommissioning and Remediation of Damaged Nuclear Facilities (DAROD) will run for three years and will include 35 experts from 19 IAEA member nations, the agency said.

It aims to benefit from the experiences gained worldwide from the challenges involved in decommissioning and remediating damaged nuclear facilities.

“The key to meeting the objective of learning and benefiting from past experiences will be to disseminate practical information of various stakeholders, who have a lot to share,” said the project’s chair, George Dolinar, director of the Radiation Protection and Environmental Protection branches at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.

Denis Flory, IAEA deputy director general and head of the agency’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, added: “There is little doubt that decommissioning of accident-damaged nuclear facilities is the most challenging of decommissioning problems. For those confronted with this challenge it would be most beneficial to have resources available for dealing with this decommissioning situation.

“These resources would include the important lessons learnt from the past, and how conventional roles of policymakers, regulators, and technical organizations can be exercised.”

Juan Carlos Lentijo, director of the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology at the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy, said potential benefits from taking a global approach to decommissioning include facilitating access to managerial skills, technologies and human expertise that otherwise might not be available in a particular country.

“Better mechanisms for sharing of information are likely to be an important element of achieving faster progress with decommissioning programmes in future,” he said. “This is especially important for the facilities in decommissioning after a nuclear or radiological accident.”