The parties to the Joint Convention met under Swiss presidency from 4 to 6 May 2022 for an extraordinary meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. The purpose of the meeting was to further develop the review processes of the international Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. ENSI represented Switzerland at this meeting.
The Fourth Extraordinary Meeting of the Joint Convention took place from 4 May 4 to 6 May 2022. Since 2001, this international convention, the Joint Convention, has specified how the contracting parties are to manage spent fuel and radioactive waste. Every three years, members submit a National Assessment Report which is reviewed by other contracting parties as part of a review conference. Switzerland was one of the first members of the Convention.
At the Sixth Review Conference the contracting states agreed to hold the present extraordinary meeting to discuss suggestions on how the review processes could be evaluated and further developed. Among other things, the meeting was convened to address the growing number of contracting parties (currently 88) and the need to optimise the guideline documents.
The Joint Convention is the “Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management”. The aim of this international convention is to achieve and maintain, in the contracting states, a high level of nuclear safety in the handling and storage of spent fuel and radioactive waste. There are currently 88 contracting states.
Switzerland signed the Joint Convention in 1997 and ratified it in 1999. Every three years, the contracting parties compile a National Assessment Report which is reviewed by other contracting parties at a review conference.
The Joint Convention came into force in 2001. It is the first legally binding instrument in the field of radioactive waste disposal and spent fuel.
Delegates from 61 contracting parties, including ENSI as the Swiss delegation, met at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. At the meeting, they already accepted two of the seven proposals submitted. The proposals aim to improve the mechanisms for mutual review and consequently also to further improve nuclear safety in the area of radioactive waste disposal and disposal of spent fuel in the contracting states. The proposals that have not yet been adopted were discussed constructively so that they can be brought forward again at the 7th Review Conference.
ENSI’s preparatory work with the IAEA
Under Swiss presidency, ENSI was instrumental in preparing, organising and holding the meeting which was chaired by former ENSI Director Hans Wanner, who was replaced by Marc Kenzelmann in 2020. The Joint Convention contracting states had elected him President of the Seventh Review Process and the associated extraordinary meeting. As part of its presidency, Switzerland helped to ensure that discussions at the extraordinary meeting were constructive and open.
The Fourth Extraordinary Meeting was originally scheduled to take place in May 2020 but was postponed until May 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Seventh Joint Convention Review Conference will be held from 27 June to 8 July 2022 in Vienna.