To accomplish our mission, EM leverages best practices and lessons learned; and seeks innovative solutions to clean up nuclear legacy sites across the United States.
Current International Engagements
EM works closely with a number of entities including other Department of Energy (DOE) offices, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the IAEA Joint Convention (on the Safety of Spent Nuclear Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management), and the Nuclear Energy Agency.
EM also supports the U.S. State Department-sponsored Joint Standing Committee on Nuclear Energy Cooperation (JSCNEC), which provides the U.S. and partner countries with an opportunity to exchange information on nuclear policy and environmental remediation.
Under a Statement of Intent (SOI), leaders from EM and the United Kingdom's (U.K.) Nuclear Decommissioning Authority National Nuclear Laboratory (NDA/NNL) collaborate throughout the year to discuss program management, technical challenges, and technology capabilities needed to address the shared decommissioning challenges.
The SOI has also resulted in informational exchanges focused on best practice and benchmarking activities related to materials management, startup and commissioning approaches, Deactivation & Decommissioning, tank waste sludge management, and waste treatment/disposal.
Recent examples include a joint technology development, demonstration and deployment projects in waste characterization and waste stabilization. The UK previously used AnTech’s Universal Drum Assay Segregation System (UDASS) for waste drum characterization and is scheduled to be demonstrated at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the second half of 2022. GeoRoc’s Hot Isostatic Pressing technology is the stabilization technology of choice for calcined wastes in plutonium residues in the US and UK.
- Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) Project: This stabilization approach was included in the Record of Decision (ROD) for the treatment and stabilization of calcined wastes from bin sets in Idaho National Laboratory. This project will refine and demonstrate transferring highly radioactive waste materials from their current location into the HIP canister for treatment. This step is a Critical Technology Element (CTE) of the overall HIP process.
- UDASS Project: The UDASS system is an integrated drum inspection system that was developed by AnTech in the U.K. The system more accurately characterizes waste drums enabling sentencing of the drum at the lowest acceptable level. Thus, UDASS improves the safety, and reduces the cost and schedule of waste disposal operations. The system has been successfully demonstrated on more than 1000 drums at the Low-Level Waste Repository (LLWR) in the UK and is scheduled for demonstration on drums of transuranic/low-level waste (TRU/LLW) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in 2022.
The SOI has also included multiple mutual visits between senior leadership from both organizations to sites in both the U.S. and the U.K. Additionally, EM recently coordinated U.K.’s NDA, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy delegation visits to the Savannah River Site, the Hanford Site, and Waste Isolation Pilot Plant before and after the Waste Management Symposium in March 2022.
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and EM are also facing similar issues across their sites, including aging infrastructure, nuclear materials disposal and decommissioning. Some of EM’s mission critical infrastructure is decaying rapidly and needs to be maintained and upgraded while other infrastructures need to be maintained in a safe state prior to D&D.
In March 2020, EM, NDA, and AECL signed a Trilateral Agreement to further extend the international collaboration and create additional opportunities for leveraging of funding, exchange of personnel, and joint program reviews.
The three countries have focused ongoing collaboration in the following areas:
- In Situ Decommissioning as a viable approach for safe, accelerated, and cost-effective remediation of nuclear facilities;
- Best practices on design, construction, and operation of near surface disposal facilities;
- Benchmark approaches to effective management and investment in infrastructure upgrades, repairs, and maintenance;
- Decommissioning of nuclear legacy clean-up sites in a sustainable manner through activities such as incentivizing the supply chain, ensuring socioeconomic benefit to communities, and achieving carbon net zero by 2050;
- Stakeholder engagement; and
EM provides technical expertise and support to Japan in addressing the environmental challenges resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) accident. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and EM developed a draft roadmap to guide engagement on decommissioning in 2019-2020. The roadmap includes a series of bilateral workshops and other government-government and industry-industry engagements. EM held virtual workshops in May and July 2020 with METI and with U.S. and Japanese industry to exchange information on U.S. companies’ experience with decommissioning, and potential opportunities for collaboration on decommissioning projects in Japan. In 2021, EM worked with the U.S. State Department and other U.S. government agencies to develop interagency-approved language on the release of tritium water from the Fukushima NPP into the ocean waters. In 2022, EM coordinated with the NRC to share U.S. data with the Government of Japan on NRC environment reviews conducted as part of reactor licensing.
In addition, EM coordinates the Network of National Laboratories for Environmental Management and Stewardship (NNLEMS) in providing technical support to Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in modeling radionuclides dispersion in ocean from discharged water, in connection with the radiological impact assessment of discharge of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water from Fukushima Daiichi.
EM works closely with the U.S. State Department by participating in the Joint Standing Committee on Civil Nuclear Cooperation (JSCCNC) between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO). The AIT-TECRO JSCCNC is led by the State Department. EM serves as co-chair of Working Group II on Waste Management and Environmental Restoration. This engagement is important as Taiwan moves forward with plans to decommission all their nuclear power plants. EM's Working Group promotes the U.S. expertise and capabilities to support Taiwan in their decommissioning efforts.
The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum that provides a means for promoting cooperation, coordination, and interaction among the Arctic States. EM works with the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) Radioactivity Expert Group to ensure U.S. interests are represented and provides opportunities for EM experts to collaborate with other international experts on issues related to radiological monitoring around remediation sites. The AMAP geographical coverage extends from the High Arctic to the Sub-Arctic areas of Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland and the Faroe Islands). Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States. The work of the Arctic Council is currently on hold. Russia holds the chairmanship of the council until May 2023.
DOE National Laboratories
DOE national laboratories have established ongoing partnerships in specific technical areas. One prominent example of this multi-national partnership with national labs, universities, and foreign counterparts to better understand the long-term performance of nuclear waste glass. The team consists of representatives from Japan, France, Germany, Italy, U.K., and Belgium , and the U.S.
Also, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is leading a team involving Hanford, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Vanderbilt University, Washington State University, and the Luela University of Technology in Sweden to explore the performance of low activity waste glass by investigating natural erosion of ancient hillforts in Sweden.
EM regularly promotes our National Laboratories’ expertise by advancing collaboration with foreign countries/ international partners through Strategic Partnership Projects (SPPs). SPPs allow EM DOE National Laboratories to share their expertise, knowledge, lessons learned, and environmental technologies with other international organizations working to address environmental waste management concerns.
EM enables international travel for EM employees and facilitates foreign delegation visits to the US.
For questions or additional information on EM international travel, please contact EMForeignTravel@doe.gov
EM Foreign Travel Coordinator:
Intergovernmental and Stakeholders Program
International Engagement/Foreign Travel