Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations
European regulatory aspects of decommissioning of nuclear installations
Regulatory framework : Directives and recommendations of the European Commission
European Commission initiatives in the field of decommissioning nuclear installations are based on chapter 3 (article 37 et al) of the Euratom Treaty and on the following Resolutions and Directives of the Council:
The following subsections describe the main ongoing work and existing European regulations related with decommissioning
Protection of employees and the general public
Articles 30 and 31 of Paragraph 3 (Health and Safety), Section II of the Euratom Treaty stress the importance of ensuring that basic health and safety standards are enforced in order to protect employees and the general public (EURATOM BSS). Within this legal framework, the European Commission published the Directive 96/29/EURATOM of 13 May 1996 establishing the basic health and safety standards for the protection of employees and the general public against the potential dangers of ionising radiation.
Article 37 specifies the obligations of Member States with regard to programmes involving the discharge of any form of radioactive waste, and makes it possible to determine whether the execution of such a programme is likely to lead to the radioactive contamination of the water, soil or airspace of another Member State. The Commission, after consulting the group of experts referred to in Article 31, gives its decision within six months. It goes without saying that this includes activities involved in the decommissioning of nuclear installations.
Criteria for the exemption of slightly contaminated materials
In Articles 3, 4 and 5, the Euratom Directive 96/29 (13 May 1996) deals with "Authorisations and clearance for disposal, recycling and re-use" of materials containing radioactive substances produced by a procedure which must be declared and authorised, and for which prior authorisation must be obtained.
However, the materials implied in the disposal, recycling and re-use can be exempted from the Directive provided they respect the release values established by the competent national authorities. These values respect the basic criteria used in Annex 1 of Directive 96/29 and take account of any other technical recommendations made by the European Community.
For the record, the tables given in Annex 1 of the Directive are based on the following radiological criteria:
The directive, which is due to become part of national legislation on 13 May 2000, is of primary importance for the exemption of very slightly contaminated materials resulting from the decommissioning of nuclear installations.
Work carried out by DG Environment on the release of scrap metal intended for disposal or melting
To complement Directive 96/29 in the most practical manner, the European Commission is currently finalising a recommendation on "radiological protection criteria for the recycling of metals resulting from the dismantling of nuclear installations" [ II.2 ] within the legal framework of consultation with the group of experts referred to in Article 31.
This recommendation proposes values for the clearance levels and the regulatory conditions for their use for the direct re-use of materials and the recycling of metals within the metallurgical and scrap metal industry. It should be noted that the Commission, in collaboration with the group of experts referred to in Article 31, has also drafted an EC recommendation on the levels of clearance for concrete.
Classification of radioactive waste
Item 3 of the "Community action plan for radioactive waste" envisages a "joint initiative for the safe management of radioactive waste". This initiative includes:
This all with the aim of the establishment of an equivalent and satisfactory level of protection for employees, the general public and the environment.
This joint initiative with EU Member States and the Central European and Baltic countries has formed the subject of a Recommendation from the Commission to the Member States.
Evaluation of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment
In the Council Directive of 27 June 1985, amended by the Directive 97/11/CE of 3 March 1997, the European Commission stipulated that the decommissioning of nuclear installations ( nuclear power stations, reprocessing installations, processing of nuclear fuel, enrichment facilities, storage and disposal sites etc..) forms an integral part of a compulsory procedure for the evaluation of the effects of industrial activities on the environment.
This procedure is a basic instrument of environmental policy, as defined in Article 174 of the EU treaty and of the fifth Community policy and action programme for the environment and sustainable development.
Member States must take the necessary steps to ensure that the authorities likely to be affected by the projects because of their environmental responsibilities, are given the opportunity to express their opinions on the information provided by the developers.
This information is made available to the public within a reasonable period of time to give the members of the public concerned the opportunity to express their opinion before authorisations are granted.
The Directive stipulates that Member States must implement the necessary legislation, regulations and administrative provisions to bring them into line with the Directive by 14 March 1999 at the latest.
Current statutory situation of EU Member States, the Baltic and Central European Countries
The strategic aspects of decommissioning cover a broad range of criteria. Various regulatory, technical, financial and organisational milestones are closely intertwined and form a guiding framework for the national authorities and private/state owned companies involved in this process.
As summarised in the four following tables (extracts from a first EC enquiry on the regulatory aspects of decommissioning in the EU and in the CEEC) we can observe that the situation is largely different among 22 countries.
Between the biggest nuclear electricity producing countries who have already established some regulatory framework related to decommissioning, and the smaller EU "nuclear elec.power and research states" and the CEEC’s there is an important gap.
Therefore after many contacts, the Commission services felt that there was an growing need for further work on those aspects.
Actions undertaken by the EC in the field of "technical support" and "safety culture training" in the field of decommissioning nuclear installations in the Baltic and Central European States
Major initiatives have been undertaken by the European Commission in the field of technical support for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEEC) through the PHARE programme which is carried out by the Directorate General for External Relations. These initiatives are primarily centred around the level of safety of reactors, assistance in the selection of surface and underground storage sites, environmental controls and assistance given to the authorities and nuclear site operators within the context of technical, administrative and control procedures for the decommissioning of the installations.
Directorate General Environment/C concentrates more specifically on the environmental aspects of decommissioning nuclear installations. It examines the inventory of current and future needs in terms of infrastructure, regulations and facilities for the management of the radioactive waste produced. Through its budget, DG Env. finances a series of studies based on the present situation and current capacities for the management of waste produced by decommissioning, in collaboration with research centres and local organisations.
The following table provides a summary of recently completed and current studies within DG Relex and DG Env.
Possible criteria for the harmonisation of decommissioning practices in EU Member States and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe
The Commission services are currently studying possible criteria for the harmonisation of practices and/or regulations for the decommissioning of nuclear installations (whether or not they are part of the fuel cycle). This study covers EU Member States and the Baltic and Central European countries.
There are a large number of criteria involved in establishing Community guidelines. Various regulatory, technical, financial and organisational aspects form a guiding framework.
Some of the main items are listed below:
At the present time, converging criteria can be classified according to three main categories:
The following table provides a summary of the current situation.
Except for the legal basis (see Paragraph II.2) which enables it to carry out its objectives, the Commission is primarily concerned with the preparation of directives, recommendations and communications via a process of consultation with scientific experts and national representatives.
To achieve this, the European Commission services, under the aegis of management advisory committees, set up various Working Parties responsible for advising the Commission on her projects. These Working Parties can be permanent or temporary, depending on their particular objectives.
Furthermore, the Commission is represented, on a permanent or temporary basis, in the various international committees of the "International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)" and the OECD "Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)" which are involved in the decommissioning of nuclear installations and the management of waste produced by this process.
The proposed enlargement of the European Union to include certain Baltic and Central European countries will further accentuate the need for a common policy on the management of decommissioning. The existence in these regions of various types of Soviet reactors whose operational safety is problematic, may rapidly increase the number of installations to be decommissioned (at least 50 sites).
In the context of co-operation and harmonisation within the EU, it would be beneficial to harmonise certain major aspects of the decommissioning of nuclear installations within the Community.
Such guidelines will promote co-ordination within the EU based on the development of technical and scientific expertise and an approach that takes account of the environment and keeps environmental cost to a minimum.
Co-ordination at the level of EU Member States could allow a reduction in operational costs due to the added value generated by the standardisation of technical procedures and large-scale Cupertino between industrial players, if regulatory policies are based on sound scientific findings.
The establishment of a Community strategy for the decommissioning of nuclear installations will have to incorporate a number of socio-economic, health and regulatory parameters.
An integrated approach of this nature can be achieved within the context of sustainable industrial development combined with an awareness and respect for the environment.
It will therefore be essential to consult various European socio-economic experts in order to achieve the best possible definition of the terms governing a Commission communication.
List of references
[I.1]: "A review of the situation of decommissioning of nuclear installations in Europe" . European Commission report (DG XI/C3) EUR 17622 (1997).
[I.2]: "Recycling and reuse of radioactive material in the controlled nuclear sector" . European Commission report (DG XI/C3) EUR 18041 (1998).
[II.1]: "Annual progress report 1996 on exploring innovative approaches, reactor safety, radioactive waste management and disposal and decommissioning research areas of the ‘Nuclear fission safety’ programme 1994-98". European Commission report (DG XII) EUR 17852 (1997).
[II.2]: " Recommended radiological protection criteria for the recycling of metals from the dismantling of nuclear installations", Radiation Protection Publication no. 89, European Commission, Luxembourg 1998 (available from: European Commission, Radiation Protection Division - Mr.H. Lellig, Centre Wagner, Rue Alcide de Gasperi, L-2920 LUXEMBOURG, Tel: (352) 4301-36383, Fax.: (352) 4301-34646, E-mail: Herbert.Lellig@ec.europa.eu )
[III.1]: Contrôle. La revue de l’autorité de sûreté nucléaire n°19 octobre 1997.
[III.2]: Regulatory experience of ALARA and Decommissioning at UK nuclear sites. I.F.Robinson et al. Paper presented at the European Alara Network Workshop 1-3/12/97 at ISTN Saclay (F).
[V.1]: Internal document to the European Commission ( DG1A & DGXI/C3). Not published.
|last update: 05-08-2008|