The European Union has a system of prior authorisation for shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel in order to provide greater protection against the dangers of ionising radiation. This system was established in 1992 and modified significantly in 2006.
The Directive concerns the Member States' application of a system of control and prior authorisation for shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel *It provides for a compulsory and common system of notification and a standard control document.
The Directive covers shipments of radioactive waste or spent fuel which have a point of departure, transit or destination in an EU Member State if the quantities or concentration are over certain limits fixed by Directive 96/29/Euratom, Article 3(2)(a) and (b). It does not apply to the following cases:
The Directive allows Member States to ship spent fuel to another Member State for reprocessing, organise the return of radioactive waste after treatment to the country of origin and return shipments of radioactive substances which do not comply with the Directive to the country of origin.
To send a shipment of radioactive waste or spent fuel the holder must submit an application to the competent authorities in the country of origin. A single application may cover several shipments if the substances involved share the same characteristics and if the route (countries and borders crossed) and the competent authorities are the same.
Where waste is to be imported into the EU, the consignee must submit this application to the competent authorities of the country of destination. Where a shipment is made from a Member State to a third country, the competent authorities in the Member State of origin must contact the relevant authorities in the country of destination.
The shipment cannot be made until the competent authorities of the country of destination and of any country of transit have notified the competent authorities of the country of origin of their approval. The Directive stipulates a period of two months after receipt of the application for notification of approval or refusal. Refusal from a Member State of destination or transit must be justified with regard to the legislation on the shipment and management of radioactive waste or spent fuel.
The competent authorities in Member States of transit or destination may add conditions to the shipment. Nevertheless, for shipments within the Community, it is not possible to lay down conditions which are more stringent than those laid down by the national law of a Member State on the shipment of radioactive waste on its own territory.
The Directive prohibits the export of radioactive waste to African, Caribbean or Pacific (ACP) countries, in line with the Cotonou Agreement, to a destination south of latitude 60 south or to a third country which does not have the resources to manage the radioactive waste safely.
If the conditions applying to the shipment are not complied with or the shipment cannot be completed, a competent authority may decide that the radioactive waste must be returned to the holder if no safe alternative can be found. A standard document is to be used for all shipments falling within the scope of the Directive.
Commission Recommendation 2008/956/Euratom of 4 December 2008 on criteria for the export of radioactive waste and spent fuel to third countries [Official Journal L338 of 17.12.2008].
The Commission makes recommendations relating to the main requirements applicable to the export of radioactive waste and spent fuel to third countries, concerning in particular radiological protection for workers and the general public, the preparation of emergency plans, the safety of waste management and the setting up of regulatory authorities being in charge of issuing licences and carrying out inspections.
The Commission also lists criteria that should be taken into consideration by Member States to evaluate whether the requirements have been met, including International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) membership, signature and ratification of conventions on radioactive waste and spent fuels and in particular the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage, and compliance with the provisions of international instruments concerning transport safety of dangerous goods (the SOLAS and Chicago Conventions).
Commission Decision of 5 March 2008 establishing the standard document for the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel 2008/312/Euratom [Official Journal L 107 of 17.4.2008].
The Commission is regularly to present summary reports on the implementation of this Directive to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee based on the Member States' reports
The first report from the Commission on the implementation of Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom. was published on 25 April 2013