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WASHINGTON, DC - Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) participated this week in the third Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Infrastructure Development Working Group (IDWG), underscoring the Department's commitment to ensuring that global expansion of civilian nuclear power is done safely and securely, while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation and responsibly managing waste. The IDWG, held December 8th and 9th in Vienna, Austria, includes over 70 participants from 22 countries working to support the sharing of educational resources, the promotion of technical educational opportunities and the establishment of new programs by which nuclear energy issues can be properly supported by trained, educated, and qualified personnel.

During the IDWG meeting on December 8th, participating nations identified priorities and activities for the working group to pursue in 2009 and continued to express support for critical infrastructure needs identified in 2008- such as human resource development, legal and regulatory framework development and sharing of lessons learned. In addition, the IDWG held a workshop to address the challenges of managing radioactive waste in ways that address the common interests and concerns of the GNEP partners and that are consistent with internationally-accepted principles of radioactive waste management and safety standards. The workshop was a result of GNEP partners' unanimous support for a proposal by the United Kingdom that GNEP seek to facilitate strategies for the responsible management of nuclear wastes.

On December 9th, the IDWG held a Resources and Gaps Workshop which focused on providing human resource development support in areas that include stakeholder engagement, legal and regulatory frameworks and reactor siting. The workshop brought together experts from around the world in government, industry and nongovernmental organizations to share information and discuss ways in which GNEP partners can complement and enhance other efforts to promote human resource development solutions.

The new IDWG activities are pursuant to Secretary Samuel W. Bodman's participation in the October 1, 2008 GNEP Ministerial Meeting in Paris, France, where GNEP partner countries discussed the importance of multilateral engagement in the area of infrastructure development to ensure that the expansion of the use of nuclear energy around the world is done in a safe and secure manner. At the Paris meeting there was agreement to engage industry and the educational community in GNEP endeavors.

GNEP is a partnership of 25 nations joined in an effort to collectively address the challenges confronting countries that are maintaining, expanding or starting nuclear power programs.

Media contact(s):

Alyson Austin, (202) 586-4940