The UAE's Arrangements for Radioactive Waste Management

10/10/2022 Environment and energy | Raoul Awad Deputy Director General of Operations Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation

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For any country considering the pursuit of a peaceful nuclear energy programme, the question of radioactive waste management presents a significant challenge. The UAE's Nuclear Policy sets out the objectives for developing a comprehensive national legal framework for the management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. In addition, ever since the issuance of the UAE's Nuclear Law of 2009, the country has been committed to developing arrangements for the management of radioactive waste.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), as part of its mandate to protect the public and environment,  developing regulations and regulatory guides to the operator, has been highly active in developing the regulatory requirements of the infrastructure for management of radioactive waste.

At the centre of such arrangements is the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), situated in the UAE's western region and comprising four nuclear reactors, three of which have received their operating licenses following rigorous review by FANR. Once all four reactors are active, it is projected that the facility will provide a quarter of the UAE's energy demands.

The need for robust radioactive waste management has been taken into consideration from the outset of the BNPP project, with every one of the facility's four units featuring its own spent fuel pool, capable of storing spent fuel for a period of 20 years. In addition, FANR has already issued a number of regulations for the management of radioactive wastes in the country, and the UAE government is developing a federal policy for long-term storage and waste management.

Earlier this year, FANR representatives took part in the Seventh Review of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, during which they presented the UAE's Fourth National Report on its obligations to the Joint Convention. The report details measures implemented by the country to manage nuclear and radioactive waste.

The management of radioactive waste is an essential component in FANR's mandate to regulate the radioactive wastes in the UAE. 

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