Around 300 participants from 15 nations engaged in a lively international exchange on the state of nuclear waste management at the safeND research symposium. The focus was on the latest scientific work regarding the interim and final storage of radioactive waste.
International and interdisciplinary exchange on the scientific status of nuclear waste management: The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) hosted the second safeND research symposium from 13 to 15 September. Over the course of three days, scientists from Germany and abroad had gathered to exchange information and discuss their research findings on the safe handling and disposal of radioactive waste.
Around 300 participants - in addition to various German research institutions, scientific institutes and specialised authorities, there were researchers from 15 nations such as Italy, England, Switzerland and the USA - took part in the conference.
The symposium was opened by Stefan Tidow, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. He welcomed the many young scientists as the "future of research", and emphasised the great importance of promoting young talent.
This year's safeND also focused on "Resilient Safety": How can nuclear waste management be designed in such a way that safety functions can be maintained even in the event of significant and unexpected disruptions? In his opening speech, Jochen Ahlswede, Head of Department for Research and International Affairs at BASE, had said: "We have recently witnessed extreme events such as a pandemic, extreme weather due to escalating climate change, and even military attacks on nuclear facilities. For safety in nuclear waste management, this means that we must also consider and plan for hitherto unthinkable events." The time factor is also relevant to safety: The longer it takes to find a safe solution to the repository issue, the more this would affect other areas of nuclear safety, and pose potential risks for future generations.
In addition to questions of safe final disposal, the effects of the worldwide use of potential novel reactor types also played a role. It became apparent that these reactor concepts pose a multitude of new questions and challenges for nuclear waste management.
The participants particularly praised the wide range of high-quality contributions from all areas of nuclear waste management both from the technical and the social sciences. BASE will make the papers presented available on the SaND platform as an abstract volume.
BASE is planning the third edition of this research symposium for September 2025.
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