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The Introduction of the Coordinators


FNCA Coordinators Meeting

22nd
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Summary Report of the 22nd FNCA Coordinators Meeting
28 June 2022, Online


Photo of CDM


The 22nd FNCA Coordinators Meeting (CDM) was held online on June 28, 2022, hosted by the Cabinet Office of Japan (CAO) and the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), and co-hosted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan. Chairperson of the Meeting was Mr. WADA Tomoaki, FNCA Coordinator of Japan. The Meeting was attended by delegates from 12 member countries; Australia, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, with the Regional Cooperation Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific (RCA) Regional Office participated to the meeting as an observer.
The summary of the nine sessions of the Meeting is as follows:

Session 1: Opening Session
Welcome remarks from Dr. UESAKA Mitsuru, Chairman of JAEC, followed the opening remarks from Mr. WADA. Dr. UESAKA expressed gratitude that each FNCA projects in the areas of nuclear science and technology, and nuclear power infrastructure development had been making excellent progress steadily in the respective fields. He also mentioned his expectation that meetings of the FNCA will be held in person from the next meeting onward, in consideration of the situation of COVID-19 infection including vaccination progress. After the self-introduction by each participant, the meeting agenda was adopted without any amendment.

Photo of Mr. WADA and Dr. TAMADA

(Left) Dr. UESAKA, Chairman of JAEC
(Right) Mr. WADA, FNCA Coordinator of Japan


Session 2: Report of the 22nd MLM
Secretariat reported overview of the 22nd MLM which was held online in December 2021. The meeting had policy discussions under the topic, "Enhancing the utilization of research reactors, accelerators and their related technologies" and concluded with the adoption of a joint communique mentioning "themes and activities to be promoted" such as "promoting cancer treatments with radiation technology among the member countries" and "enhancing the practical use of research reactors and accelerators".

Session 3-1: Report of project activities and outcomes on Radiation Utilization Development (Industrial Utilization / Environmental Utilization)

  1. Mutation Breeding
    This project, through the activities on the theme of "Mutation Breeding of Major Crops for Low-input Sustainable Agriculture under Climate Change", aims to develop new crop varieties, which contribute to the sustainable agriculture in Asian countries by using mutation breeding techniques. Particularly, the member countries are trying to develop new varieties that show high yield, early maturity, high quality, and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. In this meeting, the progress of the member countries related to the activities of the project was introduced. It was reported that several new varieties as well as promising mutant lines had been successfully obtained.
  2. Radiation Processing and Polymer Modification for Agricultural, Environmental and Medical Applications
    This project currently aims to promote development and practical use of new products through a wide utilization of radiation processing in the fields of agriculture, environment and medical care. In this meeting, after reviewing the outcome of activities in the current phase, future plan of the new phase was reported on the eight R&D subjects, namely "Degraded Chitosan for Animal Feed", "Hydrogel for Medical Application", "Environmental Remediation", "Synergistic Effect among Plant Growth Promoters (PGP), Super Water Absorbents (SWA) and Biofertilizer (BF)", "PGP and SWA, inclusive of Process Development", "Mutation Breeding of Microbe using radiation", "Sterilization and sanitization using radiation", and "Recycle plastic".
  3. Research on Climate Change using Nuclear and Isotopic Techniques (Climate Change Science Project)
    This project ended last March after 3 years project activities with excellent outcomes. While the presentation has not been made in the meeting due to inconvenience, the final report of the project activities has been submitted instead.

Session 3-2: Report of project activities and outcomes on Radiation Utilization Development (Healthcare Utilization)

  1. Radiation Oncology
    This project aims to improve the level of radiation therapy in the Asian region by establishing optimal treatment protocols for uterine cervix cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, and breast cancer, all of which are highly prevalent in the region. Member countries conduct international multi-center clinical studies, assignments required for physical Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) of radiotherapy and educational activities.
    In this meeting, the plan of the new clinical trials on palliative radiotherapy for bone metastasis and brain metastasis was introduced in addition to a report on the progress of the ongoing clinical studies on cervical, nasopharyngeal and breast cancers.

Session 4: Report of project activities and outcomes on Research Reactor Utilization Development

  1. Research Reactor Utilization
    This project shares information such as the characteristics and the utilization status of research reactors among the member countries with the aim of improving the common research infrastructure and the technical skills of their researchers and engineers. It was reported that Research Reactor Utilization (RRU) group is currently working on activities with the topics such as "RI production including new isotopes" and "new research reactor" based on the survey to the member countries. In the Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) group, it was introduced that the group is focusing on "environmental monitoring" in the current phase, and environmental samples for the monitoring are to include not only "ordinary" environmental samples such as air particulate matters but also a variety of substances extensively such as soil and even food.

Session 5: Report of project activities and outcomes on Nuclear Safety Strengthening

  1. Radiation Safety and Radioactive Waste Management
    This project aims to promote radiation safety at nuclear facilities and activities related to the radioactive waste management among the member countries through exchanging and sharing information as well as experience-based knowledge.
    The purpose of the ongoing phase is to understand and summarize the current situation of each member country related to Naturally Occurring Radiative Materials and Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM/TENORM), and to make it useful for their further activities in future. In this meeting, it was introduced that a consolidated report for the NORM/TENORM will be compiled by the end of the fiscal year 2023 after continuing discussion and review on NORM/TENORM at the workshop.

Session 6: Report of project activities and outcomes on Nuclear Infrastructure Strengthening

  1. Nuclear Security and Safeguards
    This project has been strengthening nuclear security and safeguards of the member countries by sharing knowledge and information as well as through cooperation in developing human resources to promote peaceful use of nuclear energy. In this meeting, it was introduced that the activity of this phase is to make and utilize stakeholder matrix for strengthening security regime and capacity building, and to try to utilize case studies on good practices related to the implementation of the additional protocol as an IAEA document.

Session 7: IAEA/RCA Presentation
RCA is an intergovernmental agreement for the Asia-Pacific region, under the auspices of the IAEA, in which the Government Parties undertake, in cooperation with each other and with the IAEA to promote and coordinate cooperative research, development and training related to nuclear science and technology. Currently 22 member countries (including 11 FNCA member countries and 11 non-FNCA member countries (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc.) participate in the RCA. Mr. Pill Hwan Park, Director of the RCA Regional Office, attended this meeting and presented activities of the RCA and current cooperation between FNCA and RCA. FNCA and RCA would continue information sharing and mutual attendance of their meetings in the field of mutation breeding and radiation oncology for future cooperation, and promote their activities and mutual understanding in order to enhance the cooperation.

Session 8: Discussion on Future Activities of FNCA Projects
1. Introduction of a new project proposal by Australia
A new Food Provenance project proposed by Australia aims to establish food provenance technology platform using affordable nuclear technology among the member countries to undertake research for the development of a regional fingerprint database to mitigate fraud in the food supply chain. Dr. Debashish Mazumder, ANSTO, introduced ANSTO's expertise and capabilities in nuclear techniques and expertise to deliver knowledge about provenance determination to combat food fraud, and explained future plan of the project.

2. Review of project proposals by Mr. WADA
Mr. WADA reviewed the outcomes and evaluation made by the coordinators of the member countries for 2 end-of-projects (Radiation Processing and Polymer Modification for Agricultural, Environmental and Medical Applications (RPPM), and Research on Climate Change using Nuclear and Isotopic Techniques (RCC)) as well as 1 project (Mutation Breeding) that is subject to the mid-term evaluation. He reported that the activity plan of the RPPM projects for a new phase and the newly proposed Food Provenance project were approved. He subsequently showed the comments for 4 on-going projects and a plan for the workshops in 2022. It was agreed by all the participants after the exchange of some comments

Session 8: Closing
Draft of Conclusion and Recommendation of the meeting was provided by Mr. WADA, on which the member countries are required to make a review and comments within 2 weeks, and the meeting was closed..

Conclusions and Recommendations of the 22nd FNCA Coordinators Meeting

1. Based on the Joint Communiques of the 22nd FNCA Ministerial-Level Meeting (MLM) on the new course of FNCA, the Coordinators Meeting ("the meeting") agreed to further accelerate FNCA activities related to agricultural development, food security, environmental protection, human health, nuclear security, and human resource development. The meeting also agreed to maximize efforts to promptly normalize the FNCA project activities and seven regular meetings in response to the constraints brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring the safety of the project researchers and participants as a prerequisite. These will be subject to national health policies.
2. The meeting implemented a mid-term evaluation of the Mutation Breeding Project and an end-of-project evaluation of two projects terminated at the end of March 2022, namely, Radiation Processing and Polymer Modification for Agricultural, Environmental and Medical Applications Project, and Research on Climate Change using Nuclear and Isotopic Techniques Project. The evaluation results and comments on these projects are as follows:
a) Mutation Breeding

Mutant lines or varieties of major crops adapted to low-input sustainable agriculture under climate change, and resistant to diseases and insect pests, and/or tolerant to heat, cold, flood, drought, and salinity have been successfully developed.
Several mutant lines have been officially registered for release to farmers and many research papers have been published.
The meeting agreed to extend this project for another two years and requested more involvement on the part of stakeholders from various sectors to achieve the dissemination of new varieties in each country.

b) Radiation Processing and Polymer Modification for Agricultural, Environmental and Medical Applications

Regarding agriculture, plant growth promoters (PGP), super water absorbents, and biofertilizers have been developed and utilized.
Based on the research and development of PGP, the growth promotion of farmed fish and chickens have been investigated and confirmed.
Regarding environment, waste-water treatment using electron beam irradiation has entered the stage of large-scale commercial application.
Regarding medical application, 3D cell culture substrates have been developed and the practical application of wound dressings and hemostats has been promoted.

c) Research on Climate Change using Nuclear and Isotopic Techniques

This project was carried out to better understand the mechanisms and processes of past climate variability by conducting nuclear and isotope-based experiments and analyses that support research into past climate change and sharing the expertise to interpret new knowledge.
Several scientific papers have been published, including a practical guide on soil sampling, treatment, and carbon isotope analysis of the carbon cycle.
The project was terminated. However, the meeting proposed that research on climate change using nuclear and isotopic techniques should be continued in each member country by utilizing the research collaboration network established during the project.

3. With improved procedures endorsed at the 17th MLM for evaluating project proposals, all FNCA coordinators performed ex-ante evaluation of two project proposals from project leaders, while considering relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability. Consequently, the meeting agreed to launch the new phase of the three-year project "Radiation Processing and Polymer Modification for Agricultural, Environmental and Medical Applications", as well as a new four-year project titled: "Combating Food Fraud using Nuclear Technology" from JFY 2022. The comments are shown under item 4.
4. a) Radiation Processing and Polymer Modification for Agricultural, Environmental and Medical Applications
- The expected results of the project have practical significance for social and economic growth and environmental protection improvement.
- The project should focus more on the radiation processing of polymeric materials and lay more emphasis on the use of available bio-resource as starting materials.
- Recycling and upcycling of plastics using radiation are expected to become more important for realizing a sustainable plastic economy.
- It is suggested that modification of polymer cable insulation should be discussed in the project.
- Technology transfer should be carried out efficiently to contribute to the economic interests of the participating countries.
- Since this project covers a wide range of research themes, it would be preferable to focus on several topics to discuss the proposed areas at workshop meetings held every year.
b) Combating Food Fraud using Nuclear Technology
- The project has the capacity to provide significant financial, environmental, and social benefits to the entire agricultural industry across FNCA countries by mitigating fraud in food supply chains.
- Selecting the method of analysis and target food is required. Portable XRF analysis can greatly impact stakeholders if it is adopted as a reference method for identifying food fraud. Additional techniques, such as near-infrared spectroscopy, may be considered depending on the problems and materials to be analyzed.
- It seems reasonable at the current stage to determine a limited list of the most exported food products for successful project implementation.
- It is not clear whether the project will cover other aspects of food fraud, such as food/juice adulteration, and authentication of organic, wild, and halal food. The project would have to clearly state its area of coverage.
5. The meeting discussed the progress of four ongoing projects: "Radiation Oncology", "Research Reactor Utilization", "Radiation Safety and Radioactive Waste Management", and "Nuclear Security and Safeguards". The meeting acknowledged that the projects were successfully implemented with the effective cooperation of the member countries. The comments on each project are as follows:
a) Radiation Oncology
  Since physical quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) of radiotherapy at the participating facilities are important, they should be resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided in each country.
Conducting a hands-on-training course on 3D-IGBT should also be resumed in workshops to train radiation oncologists and medical physicists.
Cooperating with the IAEA/RCA should be promoted in the study of palliative radiotherapy, as it has also been encouraged in RCA
b) Research Reactor Utilization
  The discussion on new research reactor including SMR should be continued,
In the NAA subgroup, the application of several measurement technologies, including NAA, should be discussed to contribute to environmental monitoring in each member country.
c) Radiation Safety and Radioactive Waste Management
  The sources, amount, locations, management systems, regulations, and disposal/long-term storage plans of NORM/TENORM in each country should be compiled in the final consolidated report.
d) Nuclear Security and Safeguards
  It is recommended that hands-on exercises or TTX on nuclear forensics be conducted during the physical meeting to enhance the necessary measures for nuclear security and sustainability in each member country.
Stakeholder matrix should be positively discussed to strengthen the nuclear security capability of each country.
6. The meeting agreed that the FNCA should encourage its cooperation with the IAEA/RCA on specific projects on mutation breeding, radiation oncology, radiation processing & polymer modification, and food provenance for possible synergy, as well as its experience sharing with non-FNCA RCA member states.
7.

The meeting agreed that project workshops would be hosted by the respective member governments in JFY2022, as shown in the Annex. All workshops should be held between September 2022 and March 2023. Project leaders will participate in each workshop in person or using a video conference system. If participating in person, it is recommended that all participants should be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the workshop.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect FNCA project activities in 2022, the meeting suggested that each project should use a video conference system for specific topics, when necessary, in addition to regular project meetings.




Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia