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Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste

This Directive aims to establish a legal framework specific to the European Union (EU) for the management of irradiated fuel and radioactive waste so as not to impose excessive constraints on future generations.

ACT

Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom of 19 July 2011 establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

SUMMARY

This Directive aims to establish a legal framework for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

The Directive applies to:

  • spent fuel management which result from civilian activities;
  • radioactive waste management, from generation up to disposal, which result from civilian activities.

It does not relate to authorised releases or to waste from extractive industries, which is covered by Directive 2006/21/EC.

Responsibilities and obligations of Member States

Member States shall be ultimately responsible for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. In the case of shipment of the latter to a third country, the responsibility continues to lie with the State of origin.

Member States are responsible for putting in place national policies which:

  • keep the generation of radioactive waste to the minimum practicable;
  • ensure the interdependence of the different steps in spent fuel and radioactive waste generation and management;
  • safely manage spent fuel and radioactive waste, including in the long term;
  • implement appropriate measures following a graded approach;
  • govern all stages of the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

Member States shall be required to dispose of their waste within their own territory unless they have concluded agreements with other Member States for the use of their disposal facilities. Before shipment to a third country, the exporting Member State must ensure that:

  • the country of destination has concluded an agreement with Euratom concerning spent fuel and radioactive waste management and the safety of radioactive waste management or is a party to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (‘the Joint Convention’);
  • the country of destination has radioactive waste management programmes in compliance with this Directive;
  • the disposal facility in the country of destination is authorised for the radioactive waste to be shipped, and is operating prior to the shipment.

Member States shall establish a national legislative, regulatory and organisational framework including:

  • a national programme for implementation of the policy on spent fuel and radioactive waste management;
  • national provisions guaranteeing the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management;
  • a responsible system of licensing of spent fuel and radioactive waste management activities and facilities;
  • a system of institutional control;
  • enforcement actions;
  • the allocation of responsibility to the bodies involved in the different steps of spent fuel and of radioactive waste management.
  • national requirements for public information and participation;
  • financing schemes for spent fuel and radioactive waste management.

Competent regulatory authority

Member States shall establish and maintain a competent regulatory authority responsible for spent fuel and radioactive waste management. This authority shall be functionally separate from any body or organisation associated with:

  • the promotion or exploitation of nuclear energy or radioactive material;
  • the production of electricity using isotopes;
  • the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

Member States shall ensure that the competent regulatory authority has the legal powers and human and financial resources necessary to fulfil its obligations.

Licence holders

Licence holders shall have the prime responsibility for the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management under the regulatory control of the competent regulatory authority.

Licence holders shall be responsible for regularly assessing and verifying the safety of their facility and activity. They shall also be required to continuously improve the nuclear safety of their facility and activity of spent fuel and radioactive waste management. They shall also provide for and maintain adequate financial and human resources to fulfil these obligations.

Safety case

A safety demonstration shall be prepared as part of the licence application for a facility or activity. The safety demonstration shall cover:

  • the development and operation of an activity;
  • the development, operation and decommissioning of a facility;
  • the closure of a disposal facility;
  • the post- closure phase of a disposal facility.

The licensing process shall contribute to safety in the facility or activity during normal operating conditions, anticipated operational occurrences and design basis accidents. It shall provide the required assurance of safety in the facility or activity. The extent of the safety demonstration shall be commensurate with the complexity of the operation and the magnitude of the hazards associated with the radioactive waste and spent fuel, and the facility or activity.

Financial resources

Member States shall ensure that adequate financial resources are available when needed for the implementation of national programmes, especially for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, taking due account of the responsibility of spent fuel and radioactive waste generators.

Transparency of information

Information on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste shall be made available to workers and the general public. Member States shall also ensure that the public is able to participate effectively in the process of decision making on spent fuel and radioactive waste management.

National programmes

Member States shall establish, implement and keep updated programmes for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, covering all stages of management from generation to disposal. These national programmes shall be reviewed and updated regularly.

They must include:

  • the overall objectives of the national policies;
  • the significant milestones and clear timeframes;
  • an inventory of all spent fuel and radioactive waste and estimates for future quantities;
  • the concepts or plans and technical solutions for spent fuel and radioactive waste management from generation to disposal;
  • the concepts or plans for the post-closure period of a disposal facility;
  • research, development and demonstration activities;
  • responsibilities;
  • costs assessment;
  • the financing scheme(s) in force;
  • the transparency policy or procedure;
  • agreements concluded with a Member State or third country.

Member States shall notify the Commission of their national programmes for the first time by August 2015 at the latest and of subsequent significant changes. The Commission may request clarification and/or express its opinion on whether the content of the national programme is in accordance with Article 12.

At least every 10 years, Member States shall arrange for self-assessments and invite international peer review of their national framework, competent regulatory authority and/or national programme with the aim of ensuring that high safety standards are achieved in the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

Context

In order to establish a legal framework for nuclear safety, the European Commission adopted the Directive on the safety of nuclear installations in 2009. This Directive on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste follows on from that action. This Directive meets the need to protect individuals and the environment against the dangers posed by nuclear energy and the use of radioactive material.

REFERENCE

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2011/70/Euratom

22.8.2011

23.8.2013

OJ L 199 of 2.8.2011

Last updated: 21.10.2011

See also

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