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D&D Industry News

Keep up with deactivation and decommissioning industry news and current events.

How Does The Navy Dismantle Its First Nuclear Aircraft Carrier?

April 21, 2017

​The Navy is having a hard time figuring out how to dispose of its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

The USS Enterprise (CVN 65), also known as the “Big E,” was decommissioned at Newport News Shipbuilding on Feb. 3 after 55 years of service. Now, the question is: What is the Navy supposed to do with it?

The Navy has been trying to come up with an answer since 2012, when the ship returned to its home port Naval Base Norfolk for the last time, reports DOD Buzz.

Initially, the Navy planned to have the ship towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., where the reactors would be removed and the rest of the ship would be recycled, but officials realized the ship is more than the workforce at the shipyard can handle.

The next move was to solicit bids from private commercial recycling operations to properly and effectively dispose of the aircraft carrier’s non-nuclear components, but officials from the Naval Sea Systems Command announced Monday it was canceling its request.

“The Navy has identified that it requires more information to determine the approach for the disposal of CVN 65, including the reactor plans, that is more technically executable, environmentally responsible and is an effective utilization of Navy resources,” explained NAVSEA spokesman William Couch, adding the Navy will be “taking no action at this time.”

Radioactivity, which is still a factor even after defueling, makes disposal difficult, but there are several options on the table right now.

The Navy could turn the USS Enterprise over to a commercial company for partial or full recycling. The former would involve the disposal of the non-nuclear components; the latter, however, would require the dismantling of the eight defueled reactor plants.

Another option is to place the carrier in “intermediate-term storage for a number of years” and put off recycling the ship. The Navy is still searching for a suitable location.

Environmental impact studies are being carried out for the various options.

“The Navy is taking these steps to ensure CVN 65 is recycled in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner,” Couch said. “Given the complexities of the issues involved in recycling CVN 65, the Navy remains committed to a fully open and public process for conducting the first-ever disposal of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.”

The USS Enterprise is a ship in a class of its own. It completed its last deployment in 2012 after sailing 81,000 miles over a 238-day deployment to the Persian Gulf.

Read the full article at:


US operator contracts out decom work to speed progress, prioritize consumers

April 21, 2017

Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC) has transferred control of its 50 MW La Crosse boiling water reactor (LACBWR) to EnergySolutions to complete decommissioning by 2020 and focus its resources on energy supply.

While a surge in U.S. plant closures has led to calls for changes to exemption regulations for post-shutdown operations, DPC is moving ahead with the decommissioning of its LACBWR plant to optimize costs and accelerate the removal of radiological risks.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved June 1 the license transfer of LACBWR to LaCrosseSolutions, a subsidiary of ES. The license termination plan was submitted to the NRC on June 27 and NRC expects to give its approval by late 2017.

Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC) had planned to complete decommissioning of LACBWR by end 2025, excluding the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI), but that timeframe was shortened by five years by handing over the license to EnergySolutions (ES). The transfer allowed DPC to focus on its operational energy portfolio.​

​DPC shut down LACBWR in April 1987 after 20 years of operations, placing it in safe storage (SAFSTOR) and obtaining a Possession-Only License (POL) from the NRC in August the same year.

In September 2012, the used nuclear fuel was transferred to an ISFSI at a standalone facility at the south end of the power plant site. The spent fuel assemblies from the reactor are stored in five dry casks within the ISFSI.

Speaking to Nuclear Energy Insider, Cheryl Olson, ISFSI Manager at DPC, said other utilities transitioning from operations to decommissioning could learn from decommissioning work already completed at LACBWR.

“Although there are nuances to each facility, it is largely the same process,” she said.

Dismantling activities have been taking place at the site since 1996 and while DPC has gained experience in early stage decommissioning work including transfer of spent fuel to the ISFSI, it has chosen to focus on its core business of energy supply, Olson said.

Transferring decommissioning work to ES would propel the project “to the finish line,” she said.​

Read the full article at:


OECD expands decommissioning cost benchmarks ahead of closure surge

April 21, 2017

The OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency wants to improve the accuracy of decommissioning cost estimates to optimize spending plans and improve forecasts on fund returns, agency experts told Nuclear Energy Insider.

nternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) data show close to 150 reactors have ceased operating and up to 200 additional reactors are set to go offline in the next two decades. Most of these plants are in Europe, which has an aging fleet and where changes to government energy policy, higher safety requirements and wholesale price pressures have prompted a spate of early closures.

The number of European nuclear power plants in decommissioning is expected to rise from 76 in 2015 to around 110 in 2020, Jorg Klasen, Director Nuclear Decommissioning Services at German operator EnBW Kernkraft, said in May 2016.

Globally, only 16 reactors have so far completed decommissioning and the majority of these were in the U.S, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) said in its 2016 report, “Costs of Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants.”

The OECD-NEA highlighted the lack of actual cost data currently available for decommissioning planners. OECD-NEA analyzed data from a number of member countries with the aim of improving the benchmarking of decommissioning cost estimations against actual cost data.

Read the full article at:

http://analysis.nuclearenergyinsider.com/oecd-expands-decommissioning-cost-benchmarks-ahead-closure-surge ​

HomeNew BuildSupply ChainSmall Modular ReactorsOperations & MaintenanceDecommissioningWaste Management California's $4 billion SONGS project set to test decom efficiency gains

April 21, 2017

​The EnergySolutions-AECOM contractor partnership can use time-saving learnings from earlier projects like Zion in Illinois to help boost confidence in cost forecasts and new build assumptions, industry experts said.

In December, SONGS Decommissioning Solutions, a joint venture between EnergySolutions and AECOM, won the contract to decommission Southern California Edison’s (SCE’s) SONGS nuclear power plant in California.

The estimated cost of the decommissioning project is $4.4 billion and this covers dismantling, spent fuel management, radiological decommissioning and restoration of the site within 20 years.

The site houses three reactors. In June 2013, SCE announced it would retire the 1.1 GW San Onofre Units 2 and 3 earlier than planned and began the preparations to decommission the facility. The 436 MW Unit 1 was shut down in 1992 and placed in SAFSTOR until the shut down of Units 2 and 3.

The reactors are situated on an 84-acre site, under a lease agreement with the U.S. Department of the Navy which is due to expire in 2024.

The decommissioning of SONGS represents "one of the largest and most technically complex projects in the country," Michael S. Burke, AECOM CEO, said in a company statement.

SCE expects dismantling to take around 10 years and the major dismantling is not scheduled to start until 2018 at the earliest, when state regulators are expected to complete an environmental review required under the California Environmental Quality Act.

EnergySolutions will bring experience gained on ongoing U.S. decommissioning projects. The company currently operates 50% of active commercial decommissioning sites and it recently announced its $1 billion Zion decommissioning project is on budget and “several years” ahead of the original ten-year schedule.

The successful delivery of the SONGS decommissioning project would further build confidence in decommissioning cost estimates and practices.

A well-managed project would also support future investments in nuclear new build projects as investors are scrutinising the unfolding contractual and regulatory arrangements for decommissioning, Bruce Lacy, president of Lacy Consulting Group LLC, told Nuclear Energy Insider.

“The industry can show that decommissioning is not a problem, that it’s manageable. In 15 years we can have a track record of success that will support [Nuclear New Build], with SONGS as part of that track record,” he said.

Read the full article at:


HomeNew BuildSupply ChainSmall Modular ReactorsOperations & MaintenanceDecommissioningWaste Management New reactor ownership models set to cut decommissioning costs

April 21, 2017

​The accelerated decommissioning market is taking shape as new license transfer approaches and cutting-edge technologies look set to dramatically shorten dismantling and fuel transfer procedures.

Stubbornly-low wholesale power prices have dented the economic competitiveness of U.S. and European nuclear power plants and decommissioning activity is expected to hike in the coming years in the absence of regulated price support.

There are currently 18 U.S. nuclear power plants being decommissioned and this will soon increase following a recent spate of plant closure announcements due to sustained low power prices.

The number of European nuclear power plants in decommissioning is expected to rise from 76 in 2015 to around 110 in 2020, Jorg Klasen, Director Nuclear Decommissioning Services at German operator EnBW Kernkraft, said in May 2016.

The wholesale price pressure imposed on nuclear operators has raised the importance of optimizing decommissioning costs and recently-announced joint ventures and technological advancements aim to accelerate the decommissioning process. Labor costs represent on average 44% of total nuclear decommissioning costs, according to a 2011 study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and longer timelines incur greater regulatory and cost risk.

Last month Areva and Northstar announced a new joint decommissioning company which will be able to acquire the "complete and permanent" ownership of the decommissioning asset, including used nuclear fuel.

The new joint company, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners (ADP), will provide a one-stop final decommissioning solution for the original operator. ADP will provide all required regulatory, technical and financial expertise to perform the full decommissioning process, Areva and Northstar said in a joint statement February 1.

The ADP partners are already in talks with Entergy over the decommissioning and dismantling of of two U.S. nuclear reactor sites following their expected shutdown, an Areva spokesman confirmed March 7.

Negotiations will cover terms for the transfer of ownership of the sites and the used fuel inventory upon shutdown of the plants.

"This assessment is expected to conclude at the end of 2017," the Areva spokesman said.

ADP combines Areva's expertise in nuclear component dismantling and used fuel management with NorthStar’s demolition and environmental remediation experience. The two firms have already been involved in the license termination and decommissioning of more than 10 NRC-licensed nuclear facilities and Northstar recently announced it would work with Areva Waste Control to decommission Entergy's 620 MW Vermont Yankee plant which was shut down at the end of 2014.

Entergy has agreed to sell the Vermont Yankee plant and transfer plant licences to the NorthStar group in a deal which will "accelerate decommissioning and site restoration by decades," Entergy said in a statement November 8.

Prior to the agreement, Entergy had submitted the plant for deferred decommissioning (SAFSTOR) and planned to initiate decontamination and dismantlement in 2068 and complete decommissioning and site restoration by 2075.

Read the full article at:


NRC Accepts Application For Clinch River Site Permit

April 21, 2017

​The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said this week that it had accepted for review the Early Site Permit application for the Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tenn., which is earmarked as the site for two or more small modular reactors.

The application for the review was submitted by the Tennessee Valley Authority in May 2016. This was followed by supplemental information as requested, the NRC said.

Accepting the application is not the same as approval. Accepting the application means the NRC has given the application a docket number (52-047), which means it is ready for the formal review. This will include an adjudicatory hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Notice that the application has been accepted also opens the door for petitions concerning the project, which must be filed within 60 days of the posting of notice announcing the hearing. 

The NRC notes in its project overview that the Early Site Permit Application considered two reactors up to 800 MWe, 2420 MWt at the Clinch River Nuclear site. The application employed the Plant Parameter Envelope approach -- by which an applicant provides "sufficient bounding parameters and characteristics of the reactor or reactors, and the associated facility, so that assessments of site safety and environmental suitability can be made by the NRC."

Read the full article at:

http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2017/01/13/nrc-accepts-application-for-clinch-river-site-permit-011301#.WMA892_yvRY ​

Seminar on Implementing Robotic Systems in Hazardous Environments

April 13, 2017

Deploying robotic systems in hazardous environments presents a variety of both benefits and challenges. TechNeeds is bringing together robotic experts from federal agencies, national research laboratories, industry and academia to address the integration of robotic systems into hazardous work environments and how they can be used to assist and support the workforce to accomplish high priority/high risk tasks.


Seminar title: Robots, Sensors & Humans – Benefits & Challenges of the Implementation of Robotic Systems in Hazardous Environments

Location: Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, FL

Date: May 3-4, 2017


The following three main panel discussions are planned:

·         Mobile Robots & Sensors for Hazardous Work Environments

·         Human/Robot Interaction

·         Wearable Robotic Devices/Smart Personal Protective Equipment


A roundtable discussion will follow the panel sessions, focusing on the end user perspective on the application and deployment of robotic systems and a tour of the FIU Applied Research Center facilities and live technology demonstrations of commercially available robotics and robotic technologies under development will also be included.


Details on the robotics seminar, including registration information, can be found on the event website: www.techneeds.org

Or by contacting Dr. Leonel Lagos at LagosL@fiu.edu  or 305-348-1810 or Mr. Jim Voss at the Waste Management Symposia (jamesvoss@wmarizona.org ).


Plan to bring high-level nuclear waste to West Texas gains steam

April 12, 2017

​Federal regulators will begin a series of public meetings this month after formally accepting Waste Control Specialists’ application last week to begin storing spent nuclear fuel at a dump in Andrews County.

The approval was expected — WCS notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission nearly two years ago of the company’s plans before filing the application in April. But the detailed review the NRC will now begin comes at a time when the company is poised to gain an ally in former Gov. Rick Perry, who awaits confirmation as energy secretary.

WCS is seeking to store up to 5,000 metric tons of spent of spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors throughout the U.S. That would potentially increase to 40,000 metric tons over the 40 year temporary storage permit.

The company’s goal is to break ground in 2020.

The NRC set a target of late 2019 for making a licensing decision. That review will follow two tracks, one focused on safety and the other on environmental issues, according to a statement from the NRC.

The first public meeting in Andrews, where the local government supports the plan, will be Feb. 15.

“It’s all coming together,” spokesman Chuck McDonald said, saying the company was encouraged by the NRC’s handling of the license application and a DOE request in the fall for recommendations from private companies wanting to store nuclear waste. The DOE said such private facilities “represent a potentially promising alternative to federal facilities for consolidated interim storage.”

“It’s a long process, but those two critical steps are in process now,” McDonald said.

The NRC is a licensing authority technically independent of the Department of Energy, which President Trump tapped Perry to lead. But the DOE oversees management of nuclear waste storage, and the agency would be the sole customer of WCS if its licensing application is granted. In his new role, Perry could direct utilities to ship the spent nuclear fuel to WCS.

 “We are encouraged by the fact that Gov. Perry is familiar with what is taking place in Andrews,” McDonald said. “While he was governor, he took steps to address a problem that no one else in the country was able to address. He’s got a record of addressing the issue and we think that’s all positive.”

It was during Perry’s tenure that the state passed legislation approving the low-level radioactive waste facility WCS operates.  And the late owner of the company, Harold Simmons, was one of Perry’s top donors.

The project is driven by a lack of a permanent disposal site after Congress in 2010 nixed funding for the proposed site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Today, spent fuel is kept at nuclear reactors, while the federal government continues to take in money from utilities into a multi-billion dollar fund for a permanent disposal site.

Several environmental groups oppose the plan to store the high-level waste in Andrews, instead arguing it should remain stored at nuclear reactors.

“Rather than store this radioactive waste on an exposed parking lot in West Texas, it should remain at the power plant where it was generated or nearby until a scientifically viable isolation system for permanent disposal can be designed and built,” said Karen Hadden, the director of the the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition.

Hadden argued storing high level waste in Andrews County would threaten the underlying aquifer.

But even before WCS notified the NRC of the company’s intent to apply to store high-level nuclear waste, Andrews County commissioners passed a resolution in support of the plan.

In 2009, Andrews County voters approved by a razor-thin margin a $75 million bond to help WCS build the low-level radioactive waste disposal site. But the proposal to store the high-level waste would not require such a vote with WCS not seeking financial help from the county.

To date, the county has received more than $ 8 million in direct payments from disposal fees for the low-level waste that WCS buried at the site in the rural county since opening in 2012, according to figures provided by the company.

But WCS still operates at a loss.

“We are not receiving the amount of shipments that we have anticipated,” McDonald said. “It’s showing steady improvement, but it’s not profitable yet.”

Winning approval to build an interim disposal site for high-level nuclear waste could mean a windfall of billions of dollars. Andrews County and the State of Texas would share in that windfall.

A WCS competitor has also filed a letter of intent to open an interim storage facility in Lea County, N.M.

Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen’s Texas office argued that transporting high-level nuclear was by rail is dangerous.

The waste would be shipped by train because of its heavy weight. The spent fuel would already be sealed in canisters before it is shipped, limiting handling to moving canisters from transportation to storage casks, according to the NRC.

“Radioactive waste has been safely transported in the United States for 50 years now, quite often by rail,” McDonald said. “And there has never been a single accident that resulted in the release of any radioactive materials."

Before making a licensing decision, the NRC will produce a report evaluating safety and an environmental impact study. And interested parties can challenge the commission’s findings.

“If the application meets our regulations, we’re legally bound to issue a license,” Mark Lombard, the NRC’s director of the division of spent fuel management wrote in an April blog post. “We don’t consider whether there’s a need for the facility or whether we think it’s a good idea.” 

Read the full article at:


Geostatistics for radiological characterization: Sampling optimisation, data interpretation and risk analysis

April 12, 2017
​Poster presented at International Conference on Advancing the Global Implementation of Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Programmes, IAEA, May 23-27, 2016, Madrid, Spain​
Need for proper characterisation


Dismantling and decommissioning of nuclear facilities or remediation of contaminated sites are industrial projects with huge challenges. Precise knowledge of the contamination state is required. Radiological evaluations have multiple objectives to be considered: determination of average activity levels, to allow the categorization of surfaces or volumes (sorted into different radioactive waste categories); location of hot spots (small areas with significant activity levels); and estimation of the source term (total activity) contained in soils or building structures. In addition there are radiation protection and other logistics considerations.
Estimates are essential for the proper management of these projects. Currently, characterization remains relatively empirical. Accumulated approximations often have serious consequences that threaten the project’s successful completion, for example through over-categorization or unexpected contamination.
Radioactive contamination is generally complex and involves numerous parameters: radiological fingerprint, transfer path, type of contaminated materials, presence of different matrices (soils, concrete), and so on. Numerical modelling often turns out to be very difficult.
The characterization phase should be efficient and the sampling strategy has to be rational. However, investigations also represent capital expenditure; the cost of radiation protection constraints and laboratory analysis can represent a large amount of money, depending on the radionuclide. Therefore the entire sampling strategy should be optimized to reduce useless samples and unnecessary measures.
Geostatistics methodology
The geostatistical approach, which provides consistent estimates and reliable maps, is an appropriate solution for data analysis. Geostatistics aims to describe structured phenomena in space, possibly in time, and to quantify global or local estimation uncertainties. Estimates are calculated from a partial sampling and result in different representations of the contamination, including interpolation mapping (‘kriging’). But the added value of geostatistics goes beyond this. Its benefit is its ability to quantify estimation uncertainty and provide risk analysis for decision making. More advanced and sophisticated geostatistical methods, such as conditional expectation or geostatistical simulations, can be used to quantify risk of exceeding the threshold, for instance. These estimates are powerful decision-making aids when classifying surfaces and volumes before decontamination starts (based on different thresholds as well as considering the remediation support impact).
Finally, multivariate geostatistics allows different kinds of information to be combined to improve estimates, using the spatial correlations between variables. Physical and historical data and non-destructive measurement results (for example dose rate or in situ gamma spectrometry) are integrated to improve understanding and prediction of the main variable (results of laboratory analysis, for example) while reducing the estimation uncertainty.
Data consolidation and sampling optimisation
To use geostatistics, datasets must be consistent for correct data processing: the same sampling protocol must be used, measurement or analysis must be performed in a short period if the decay rate is sensitive; data of the same type must be expressed in the same unit, and so on. This may seem obvious, but a lot of time can be lost in correcting errors and ensuring that the data are really consistent: coordinates, dates, units, physical and radiological heterogeneities, odd correlations…
In addition, the spatial structure of radioactive contamination makes the optimization of sampling (number and position of data points) particularly important. Geostatistics methodology can help determine the initial mesh size and reduce estimation uncertainties.
Application cases and lessons learned
Geostatistics can be applied to a range of radiological characterization. The only limitation is the quality of the input data, since they are fundamental to describing spatial structure of the phenomenon. Geostatistics maps can cover very small areas (a few m² or a few m³) or very large sites (at a country scale) as presented in several application cases: characterization of a legacy site, post-accidental mapping, building structure categorization…
To conclude, geostatistics is a very powerful tool to analyze, consolidate and give value to collected pieces of information. The exploratory data analysis, in combination with the spatial structure interpretation (variogram) is probably the most interesting part of the characterization. It results in mapping outputs, risk analysis and sampling optimization. 

Read the full article at:

IAEA Pushes Forward Initiative to Accelerate Nuclear Cleanup Efforts Worldwide

April 12, 2017

​An IAEA initiative to help Member States step up efforts in decommissioning old nuclear facilities and remediating contaminated sites is shifting into higher gear this year.

With many reactors reaching the end of their lifetime in coming decades, Member States are looking to the IAEA for advice in using new approaches and technologies. A group of experts from eight countries met in Vienna last week to begin the preparation of comprehensive, IAEA assistance programmes to accelerate clean-up projects across the globe.

The experts prepared initial materials and planning tools for the development of decommissioning and environmental remediation (D&ER) strategies, including for effective stakeholder involvement and human resource capacity building.

The meeting, part of the second phase of the CIDER (Constraints to Implementing Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation) project, laid the groundwork for an annual IAEA technical meeting in May. Member States facing D&ER liabilities will use that meeting to further develop the materials produced and to establish communities of practice. Once developed, these tools could be used by Member States directly or through the assistance provided by the IAEA technical cooperation programme, aligned with national, regional and/or international arrangements.

“In Brazil, we are embarking on a new project to remediate the site of a major uranium mining and milling facility that is no longer operational,” said Danielle Eisemberg from Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil S.A. of Brazil. “This is a big and complex endeavour and we have many issues to solve to enable its implementation. The CIDER II project will help us find ways to address them.”

Decommissioning is the last phase in the life cycle of nuclear facilities. It includes all activities needed to remove them from regulatory control and make the sites available for other uses. Environmental remediation, involving measures to reduce radiation exposure, is required when sites are contaminated as a result of operations that did not conform to adequate regulatory requirements or were affected by a nuclear accident or radiological emergency.  

Many Member States have implemented successful D&ER projects. Several others have initiated them but have faced technical, social and political constraints, which have impeded their progress. The IAEA’s CIDER project was designed in 2013 to identify those constraints and suggest mechanisms that could improve levels of implementation of D&ER projects.

The reasons for slow progress in a number of D&ER projects worldwide often include financial constraints, but also a lack of national policy, inadequate regulatory frameworks and insufficient access to relevant technologies and qualified staff.

“Better overall strategies for D&ER, enhanced legal and regulatory arrangements as well as improved stakeholder engagement practices are needed,” said Oleg Voitsekovych from the Ukrainian Scientific and Research Institute for Hydrometeorology. “We hope that CIDER II may create the synergy to increase the effectiveness of technical assistance Ukraine receives from the international community in this area.”

Decommissioning using advanced technologies

Also last week, 110 participants from 25 countries gathered in Sarpsborg, Norway, to discuss current and emerging technologies that could improve decommissioning practices. Nuclear operators, regulators, scientists, consultants and contractors exchanged information and views on research and development and application of advanced technologies for nuclear decommissioning. The workshop was organized jointly by the IAEA and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.

“Demonstration of advanced computer-aided technologies provided participants with an overview of progress in support of decommissioning planning,” said Nils Morten Huseby, CEO of the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE). Jon Kvalem, Deputy Project Manager of OECD Halden Reactor Project added that sharing experience and demonstration of techniques is useful for many nuclear facilities worldwide, as many decommissioning challenges still have to be addressed.

Christophe Xerri, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology, emphasized that CIDER II and the Sarpsborg workshop complement other IAEA activities and delivery mechanisms in the field of D&ER.

“IAEA-supported networks of professionals such as the International Decommissioning Network (IDN) and the Network of Environmental Management and Remediation (ENVIRONET) provide very useful opportunities for sharing knowledge, information and expertise, the basis of any successful project,” he said. The IAEA’s current and future activities in this field respond to many issues highlighted at the International Conference on Advancing the Global Implementation of Decommissioning and Environmental Remediation Programmes, held last year in Madrid, he added.

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