Category Archives: Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power stations currently produce around a third of the electricity and 15% of the energy consumed in the European Union (EU). The sector represents a source of energy with low carbon levels and relatively stable costs, which makes it attractive from the point of view of security of supply and fighting climate change. It is up to each Member State, however, to decide whether or not to pursue the option of nuclear power. The ground for nuclear energy in Europe was laid in 1957 by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Its main functions consisted of furthering cooperation in the field of research, protecting the public by establishing common safety standards, ensuring an adequate and equitable supply of ores and nuclear fuel, monitoring the peaceful use of nuclear material, and cooperating with other countries and international organisations. Specific measures adopted at EU level are geared to protecting the health of those working in the sector and of the public at large, and protecting the environment from the risks associated with the use of nuclear fuel and the resulting waste.

Shipments of radioactive substances

Shipments of radioactive substances

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Shipments of radioactive substances

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Shipments of radioactive substances

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (Euratom) No 1493/93 of 8 June 1993 on shipments of radioactive substances between Member States.

Summary

In accordance with Directive Directive 96/29 Euratom each Member State must make it compulsory to report activities which involve a hazard arising from ionising radiation. In the light of possible dangers, activities are subject to prior authorisation in certain cases decided upon by each Member State.

Member States have consequently set up national systems in order to meet the requirements of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

Shipments of radioactive waste between Member States and into and out of the Community are subject to the specific measures laid down by Directive 2006/117. Each Member State must ensure that its own radioactive waste is properly managed.

The removal of internal border controls in the Community, as from 1 January 1993, has deprived the competent authorities of the Member States of information previously received through controls relating to shipments of radioactive substances. It is, however, important that the competent authorities concerned receive the same level of information as before in order to continue to implement their controls for radiation protection purposes.

This Regulation applies to shipments, between Member States, of sealed sources and other relevant sources, whenever the quantities and concentrations exceed the levels laid down in Article 3.2 (a) and (b) of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

In the case of nuclear materials, each Member State carries out all necessary controls, within its own territory, in order to ensure that each consignee of such materials shipped from another Member State complies with the national provisions implementing Article 3 of Directive 96/29/Euratom.

The Regulation defines a “sealed source” as a source of ionising radiation consisting of radioactive substances firmly incorporated in solid and effectively inactive materials, or sealed in an inactive container of sufficient strength to prevent, under normal conditions of use, any dispersion of radioactive substances. The Regulation also refers to “nuclear materials” as the special fissile materials, the source materials and the ores as defined in the Euratom Treaty.

Controls of shipments of sealed sources or other relevant sources between Member States under Community or national law for the purpose of radiation protection must be performed as part of the control procedures applied in a non-discriminatory manner throughout the territory of the Member State.

A holder of sealed sources who wishes to carry out a shipment of certain substances provided for by the Directive must obtain a prior written declaration by the consignee of these substances, using the standard documents, to the effect that he has complied with all applicable provisions implementing Article 3 of Directive 96/29/Euratom and with the relevant national requirements for safe storage, use or disposal of that class of source.

This declaration must be sent by the consignee to the competent authority of the Member State to which the shipment is to be made, which must confirm with a stamp that it has taken note of the declaration. This document must then be sent by the consignee to the holder of the substances.

The declaration may refer to more than one shipment, provided that:

  • the sealed sources to which the declaration relates have essentially the same physical and chemical characteristics;
  • the sealed sources to which it relates do not exceed the levels of activity set out in the declaration;
  • the shipments are to be made from the same holder to the same consignee and involve the same competent authorities.

The declaration is valid for a period of not more than three years from the date of stamping by the competent authority, in accordance with the procedure described above.

A holder of sealed sources and other relevant sources who has carried out a shipment of such sources, or arranged for such a shipment to be carried out, must provide the competent authorities in the Member State of destination with certain information within 21 days of the end of each calendar quarter. This information must relate to deliveries during the quarter, and must include:

  • the names and addresses of consignees;
  • the total activity per radionuclide delivered to each consignee and the number of such deliveries made;
  • the highest single quantity of each radionuclide delivered to each consignee;
  • the type of substance (sealed source or other relevant source).

Nothing in this Regulation affects existing national provisions and international agreements on the transport and transit of radioactive material, or the obligations and rights resulting from Directive 2006/117/Euratom.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (Euratom) No 1493/93

9.7.1993

OJ L 148, 19.6.1993

Related Acts

Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom of 20 November 2006 on the supervision and control of shipments ofradioactive waste and spent fuel [Official Journal L 337, 20.11.2006].
The European Union has a system of prior authorisation for all shipments of radioactive waste in order to provide greater protection against the dangers of ionising radiation. This system was established in 1992 and modified significantly in 2006 by a directive, which seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • to maintain consistency with the latest Euratom Directives, including Directive 96/29/Euratom, which it supplements, and Directive 2003/122/Euratom, and with the international conventions;
  • to clarify the procedure (amending and adding definitions, removing inconsistencies, simplifying the procedure between Member States, clarifying the linguistic arrangements, etc.);
  • to extend the application of the system to include spent fuel, whether or not it is intended for reprocessing.

Nuclear Illustrative Programme

Nuclear Illustrative Programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Nuclear Illustrative Programme

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Nuclear Illustrative Programme

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 4 October 2007 entitled: ‘Nuclear Illustrative Programme’ [COM(2007) 565 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The nuclear illustrative programmes aim to provide information on nuclear energy in the European Union (EU), the objectives adopted by the Member States for nuclear power production and the investment required to achieve them.

Status of nuclear power in Europe and the world

The EU is the world’s largest producer of nuclear electricity (944.2 TWh(e) in 2005). Around a third of the electricity and 15 % of the energy consumed in the EU comes from nuclear power plants. There were 443 nuclear reactors for electricity production in the world in 2006, providing 15 % of the world’s electricity. At the end of 2006, the EU-27 had 152 reactors (146 from January 2007) in 15 Member States and the average age of these plants was around 25 years, with a lifespan of 40 years in general. Decisions relating to renewal of European nuclear capacity or the extension of the life of certain plants must therefore be made in the next few years, given the time required for construction of new reactors.

Several countries outside the EU have declared their intention to construct new nuclear power plants, in particular China, South Korea, the United States, India, Japan and Russia. Within the EU the situation is very diverse: Bulgaria, France, Slovakia and Finland have decided to build new nuclear reactors; several countries have reopened the debate on the possibility of extending operation of existing plants or replacing them (the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Lithuania (‘Baltic States’ project) and the United Kingdom amongst others); finally, Belgium, Germany and Spain have gone down the route of gradually abandoning or limiting nuclear power. Since 1997, the Commission has been notified of 19 investment projects.

Advantages of the use of nuclear power

The Commission considers that nuclear power can contribute to the diversification and the security of the energy supply for a number of reasons, in particular the availability and distribution of nuclear fuel (natural uranium), the limited impact of price variations for this fuel on plant operating costs and the existence of market supervision for nuclear materials for peaceful use.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the nuclear electricity sector is competitive compared with electricity generation from fossil fuels. The competitiveness of this sector is also strengthened by the significant increase in the cost of other fuels. However, the liberalised electricity markets cannot guarantee price stability, which may lead public authorities to take steps to reduce the risk for investors. The nuclear power sector is marked by high construction costs, while the operating costs are lower than for other sources of electricity. In addition, other features of this sector have a bearing on costs and investment risk, such as plant size and building plants to a similar design.

The nuclear power industry gives off low CO2 emissions and is therefore an interesting option for the fight against climate change. At present, this sector is the largest source of low CO2 emission energy in Europe.

Management of the risks associated with nuclear power

The public’s perception of the nuclear sector is a vital factor in the acceptability and future of nuclear power production. This requires the public to have access to reliable information and to be involved in a transparent decision-making process. The EU is already committed to managing risk associated with nuclear power and it envisages strengthening its actions further.

The EU also acts to guarantee nuclear safety: it makes sure that international agreements on the subject are applied and makes a financial contribution to improving nuclear safety, both within its borders, in particular following the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, and in third countries.

On the subject of radioactive waste, the vast majority is low level short-lived waste, for which strategies are implemented on an industrial scale in almost all the States with nuclear power plants. The disposal of high level long-lived waste is notably influenced by social factors, in particular the choice of final disposal sites and public acceptance of this choice. Research also focuses on techniques for reducing the volume or life of radioactive waste or long-lived components.

Decommissioning of installations is a complex and costly operation that is likely to involve around a third of plants currently in operation by 2025. It is therefore necessary to have sufficient financial resources, potentially from separate funds. The Commission emphasises the fact that the actual cost for decommissioning must, in the end, be borne by the operators.

In relation to radiological protection, the Commission states that exposure of those working in the nuclear industry and radioactive waste from nuclear industries have decreased significantly, while exposure in the medical field or to natural sources of radiation could be reduced further. Major progress has also been made in terms of preparation for emergencies, exchange of information, food controls and preventing the loss or misappropriation of radioactive sources.

European action on the subject of nuclear energy

The Euratom Treaty is the legal basis for the regulatory framework laying down far reaching obligations and competences in the nuclear field, particularly on the subject of research as well as controls, security and nuclear safety.

The Commission has adopted several proposals on nuclear safety in order to harmonise the work of national authorities.

It has also launched a European programme for critical infrastructure protection.

European research plays a vital role in the nuclear field. It is currently carried out under the 7th Euratom framework programme, in particular through the creation of technological platforms and with a focus on nuclear fission and innovative technology.

For the future, the Commission suggests that discussions cover, amongst other things, the recognition of common reference levels, the formation of a high-level group for safety and management of radioactive waste, the introduction of national radioactive waste management plans, harmonisation of strategies on decommissioning funds, and the creation of a harmonised system of liability and financial mechanisms in the event of damage caused by a nuclear accident.

Background

The obligation to draw up nuclear illustrative programmes is laid down in Article 40 of the Euratom Treaty.

This nuclear illustrative programme was first presented as part of the re-examination of European energy policy at the start of 2007 (‘energy package’). The final version of the programme, adopted in October 2007, takes account of the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee, to which the preliminary version was presented, certain observations from the European Parliament, and additional information provided by the Member States (Annex 2).

Related Acts

Commission Decision of 17 July 2007 on establishing the European High Level Group on Nuclear Safety and Waste Management (2007/530/Euratom) [Official Journal L 195 of 27 July 2007].
The High Level Group was established following the Commission’s presentation of the illustrative nuclear programme in January 2007. It has the task of progressively developing common understanding and eventually additional European rules in the fields of nuclear safety the safety of the management of waste.

Communication from the Commission of 10 January 2007 ‘Nuclear Illustrative Programme’ presented under Article 40 of the Euratom Treaty for the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee [COM(2006) 844 final – Official Journal C 138 of 22 June 2007].

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2007/513/Euratom of 10 July 2007 approving the accession of the European Atomic Energy Community to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities.

Summary

The new Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities is aimed at ensuring effective physical protection during the use, storage or transport of materials used for peaceful purposes, as well as preventing and fighting crime associated with this material and these facilities. It is based on the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), to which all the Member States of European Union (EU) are party.

It is the task of each State that is party to the convention to establish and implement measures to guarantee this effective protection to prevent, in particular, the theft or disappearance of nuclear material for which it is responsible, as well as sabotage of nuclear facilities on its territory. The Euratom Treaty is broader in that it states that Member States must prevent any misappropriation of nuclear material for purposes other than those for which it is intended.

In implementation of the Convention, the States that are party to the Convention must respect a certain number of basic principles, in particular the principles of responsibility of the State and licence-holders, of a culture of security, insurance and confidentiality.

The contracting States must ensure that the nuclear material they import, export or accept in transit on their territory is protected in accordance with the applicable safety level.

The contracting States must designate a competent authority responsible for the application of the Convention, as well as a point of contact, and give this information to the other Member States directly or through the intermediary of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Furthermore, they must cooperate in the event of theft, sabotage or risk of theft or sabotage. This cooperation in particular takes the form of an exchange of information, while respecting the confidentiality of this information vis-à-vis third parties.

The contracting States must apply appropriate penalties to certain infringements, in line with their severity. In particular, it is punishable to act without authorisation in a way that causes or is likely to cause death or serious injury, theft of nuclear material, sabotage of a nuclear installation, the threat of using nuclear material to cause death or serious injury of a third party or cause significant damage to property; attempts to commit one of these acts, involvement in such acts and organisation thereof are also punishable.

Any contracting State has jurisdiction for infringements committed on its territory or on board a vessel or aircraft registered in the said State and when the person presumed to have committed the infringement is a native of the said State. These infringements are grounds for extradition between the contracting States, who must also provide each other with the most extensive judicial assistance in the event of these infringements. Political motives for the infringement are not a reason for refusing extradition or mutual judicial assistance.

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) was adopted in 1979 and entered into force in 1987. It was amended in 2005 at a conference held with a view to strengthening its provisions. A conference for review of the amended convention must be organised 5 years after entry into force of the amendment agreed in 2005.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2007/513/Euratom 10.7.2007 OJ L 190, 21.7.2007

Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

This report refers to activities that took place between 1990 and 2007 to verify the operation and efficiency of national installations for monitoring levels of radioactivity in the air, water and soil.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 20 December 2007: Application of Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty. Verification of the operation and efficiency of facilities for continuous monitoring of the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007 [COM (2007) 847 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Under article 35 of the Euratom Treaty, Member States must set up facilities to monitor the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil and compliance with basic standards as regards the health and safety of members of the public and workers. Furthermore, the Commission has the right of access to those facilities to verify that they are operating effectively.

Up until the end of the 1980s, verification activities were not carried out on a frequent basis. Following the accident at Chernobyl, the Commission announced its intention to increase the number of verifications. 23 verifications were performed between 1990 and 2003. Since 2004, verifications have become systematic, with priority being given to new Member States and to more vulnerable facilities. As a result, between 2004 and 2007, the Commission performed 25 verifications across all Member States. These verifications were carried out in reprocessing plants, nuclear power plants, research institutions, NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials) facilities, hospitals and an old uranium mine as well as in national surveillance networks.

Verifications can refer as much to environmental radioactivity monitoring facilities in the strict sense as to facilities necessary for monitoring discharges to assess their impact on the public exposed and, depending on the case, on an area around a specific site or on the entire or a part of the territory of Member States. Verification results in a technical confirmation report which provides an overview of requirements and arrangements made to monitor the level of radioactivity and to assess the impact of discharges and also in a report summarising the main findings of the verifications.

These verifications, particularly with regard to the overall quality of facilities and laboratories, have resulted in the Commission observing the need to strengthen the monitoring function of the competent authority, storage and sample-taking programmes. A single verification exercise in 2002 produced unsatisfactory results overall: this concerned a research reactor used without authorisation and with no regulatory control, which resulted in the Commission initiating infringement proceedings.

According to the communication, between five and seven verifications are completed each year. The Commission considers that the frequency of visits to key plants should be increased.

Related Actsâ

Commission Communication: Verification of environmental radioactivity monitoring facilities under the terms of Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty – Practical arrangements for the conduct of verification visits in Member States [Official Journal C 155, 4.7.2006].

Nuclear non-proliferation

Nuclear non-proliferation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Nuclear non-proliferation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Nuclear non-proliferation

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 26 March 2009 – Communication on nuclear non-proliferation [COM(2009) 143 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication reports on the nuclear situation at global level and proposes solutions aimed at promoting nuclear non-proliferation.

Global context

Nuclear energy is attracting renewed interest in view of rising energy demand at global level on the one hand, and a commitment to reducing CO2 emissions on the other. Wider exploitation of nuclear energy may present risks of nuclear incidents or diversion of technology for non-peaceful uses.

In view of these risks, the international community must ensure that the principle of nuclear non-proliferation is respected – particularly the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) norms. The United Nations Convention, adopted in 2005, concerning the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism also has a role to play, as does the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The European Commission supports the principle of nuclear non-proliferation and considers that the IAEA and Euratom should enhance their cooperation in this regard.

Instruments

The foreign and security policy (CFSP) is the main instrument available to the European Union (EU) to promote nuclear non-proliferation and in particular the European security strategy and the strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Other instruments developed on the basis of treaties contribute to promoting nuclear non-proliferation in third countries such as:

  • the Instrument for Stability (IfS);
  • the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA);
  • the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC).

The Instrument for Stability aims inter alia to assist third countries in developing their capacities to prevent risks related to chemical, biological and nuclear materials. This type of aid will be extended to areas in South-East Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa. Its aim is to develop security in the fields concerned.

The Euratom Treaty also provides a framework for nuclear non-proliferation through:

  • safeguards concerning the prevention of the diversion of fissile materials (plutonium, uranium and thorium);
  • radiation protection, physical protection and export controls. The Euratom legislation provides for authorisations and notifications dealing with the regulatory control of nuclear materials;
  • the Euratom Supply Agency which authorises the conclusion of supply contracts verifies that supply contracts are concluded for peaceful purposes and establishes export authorisation procedures;
  • research and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) which are a basis for all Community research programmes in the nuclear field.

Possible ways forward

The Commission proposes the following options as regards nuclear non-proliferation:

  • to enhance support for the treaty on non-proliferation and nuclear safeguards, by redefining the international framework, combating illicit trafficking and the introduction of appropriate sanctions in case of violation of commitments;
  • extending cooperation with key nuclear countries through Euratom agreements and the conclusion of new bilateral agreements;
  • contributing to the development of an international system of guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel by creating a nuclear fuel bank under the control of the IAEA.

Context

Nuclear power is taking a predominant place in the current global context. An increasing number of countries are seeking to implement civil nuclear energy programmes. It is therefore deemed necessary to strengthen international guarantees of non-proliferation in order to safeguard international safety and security.

Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste

Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste

Document or Iniciative

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

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2011/70/Euratom

22.8.2011

23.8.2013

OJ L 199 of 2.8.2011

Nuclear energy

Nuclear energy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Nuclear energy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Nuclear energy

Nuclear power stations currently produce around a third of the electricity and 15% of the energy consumed in the European Union (EU). The sector represents a source of energy with low carbon levels and relatively stable costs, which makes it attractive from the point of view of security of supply and fighting climate change. It is up to each Member State, however, to decide whether or not to pursue the option of nuclear power. The ground for nuclear energy in Europe was laid in 1957 by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). Its main functions consisted of furthering cooperation in the field of research, protecting the public by establishing common safety standards, ensuring an adequate and equitable supply of ores and nuclear fuel, monitoring the peaceful use of nuclear material, and cooperating with other countries and international organisations. Specific measures adopted at EU level are geared to protecting the health of those working in the sector and of the public at large, and protecting the environment from the risks associated with the use of nuclear fuel and the resulting waste.

EURATOM

  • Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)
  • Euratom Supply Agency
  • Seventh Framework Programme: Euratom
  • Nuclear Illustrative Programme

NUCLEAR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

  • Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy
  • ITER: Euratom/Japan agreement on nuclear fusion

NUCLEAR SAFETY

  • Nuclear non-proliferation
  • Dangers arising from ionising radiation
  • Safety of nuclear installations
  • Convention on Nuclear Safety
  • Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities
  • Control of high-activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources
  • Education and training in the nuclear energy field
  • Safeguarding nuclear materials
  • Cooperation with Non-EU Member Countries on nuclear safety
  • Operation and efficiency of facilities for monitoring the level of radioactivity in the air, water and soil – Report 1990-2007

NUCLEAR WASTE

  • Shipments of radioactive substances
  • Shipments of radioactive waste: supervision and control
  • Management of spent fuel and radioactive waste
  • European system for registration of carriers of radioactive materials (Proposal)

Shipments of radioactive waste: supervision and control

Shipments of radioactive waste: supervision and control

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Shipments of radioactive waste: supervision and control

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Shipments of radioactive waste: supervision and control

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom of 20 November 2006 on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

Summary

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:

  • shipments of sources being returned to a supplier, manufacturer or authorised installation;
  • shipments of radioactive substances recovered through reprocessing and destined for a different use;
  • shipments of natural radioactive substances which do not result from treatment.

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.

Shipments of radioactive waste or spent fuel

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. The model of the document and its annexes is to be drawn up by the Commission and published on 25 December 2008 at the latest.

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.

Background

From 25 December 2008 the Directive revokes and replaces Directive 92/3/Euratom, primarily in order to:

  • ensure coherence with other Euratom Directives, including the Directive which this amends and Directive 2003/122/Euratom, and with international conventions;
  • clarify the procedure (amendment and addition of definitions, removal of inconsistencies, simplification of the procedure between Member States, clarification of the use of languages, etc.);
  • extend the scope to spent fuel, whether or not it is intended for reprocessing.
Key terms used in the act
  • Radioactive waste: radioactive material in gaseous, liquid or solid form for which no further use is foreseen by the countries of origin or destination, and which is controlled as radioactive waste by a regulatory body in the countries of origin and destination.
  • Spent fuel: nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in and permanently removed from a reactor core. Spent fuel may either be considered as a usable resource that can be reprocessed, or be destined for final disposal with no further use foreseen and treated as radioactive waste.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2006/117/Euratom 25.12.2006 25.12.2008 OJ L 337 of 20.11.2006

Related Acts

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 referred to in Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom [Official Journal L 107 of 17.4.2008].

Safety of nuclear installations

Safety of nuclear installations

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Safety of nuclear installations

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Safety of nuclear installations

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom of 25 June 2009 establishing a Community Framework for the nuclear safety of nuclear installations.

Summary

This Directive aims at establishing a Community framework for nuclear safety within the Community and encouraging Member States to guarantee a high level of nuclear safety. It applies to all nuclear installations.

Member States shall establish a national legislative, regulatory and organisational framework for the nuclear safety of installations. This framework shall, in particular, provide for:

  • the adoption of national nuclear safety requirements;
  • a system of licensing and prohibition of operation of nuclear installations without a licence;
  • a system of nuclear safety supervision;
  • enforcement actions.

This Directive invites Member States to establish a competent regulatory authority. This authority should be independent from any other organisation. It should also be given sufficient legal powers, and human and financial resources, to be able to require the license holder to comply with national nuclear safety requirements.

The license holder shall have prime responsibility for nuclear safety and may not delegate this responsibility. They shall be responsible for the assessment and continuous improvement of the nuclear safety of installations.

Member States should ensure that their personnel have the necessary expertise and skills innuclear safety.

Information on nuclear safety regulations should be made available to the public.

Member States shall also submit a report to the European Commission every three years on progress made with regard to nuclear safety. They shall also submit self-assessments of their national framework every 10 years.

Context

Nuclear safety regulation is based on the principle of national responsibility of Member States. This principle reinforces the independence of national regulatory authorities.

In 2007, following the Council’s conclusions, the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) was established to contribute to the achievement of the Community objectives in the field of nuclear safety. This Directive constitutes a crucial step in the implementation of these objectives.

References

Act Entry into force Transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2009/71/Euratom

22.7.2009

22.7.2011

OJ L 172 of 2.7.2009

Safeguarding nuclear materials

Safeguarding nuclear materials

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Safeguarding nuclear materials

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Nuclear energy

Safeguarding nuclear materials

To establish a system of safeguards enabling the Commission to satisfy itself that source materials and nuclear products are used exclusively for the uses declared by their users.

2) Document or Iniciative

Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 3227/76 of 19 October 1976 concerning the application of the provisions on Euratom safeguards [Official Journal L 363 of 31.12.1976].

Amended by the following acts:

Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 220/90 of 26 January 1990 [Official Journal L 22 of 27.01.1990];
Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 2130/93 of 27 July 1993 [Official Journal L 191 of 31.07.1993].

3) Summary

Context

Chapter 7 of the Euratom Treaty establishes a safeguard system designed to ensure that civil nuclear materials are not diverted from the civil uses for which they are intended, as declared by operators of nuclear installations.

Pursuant to Article 81 of the Euratom Treaty, the Commission may send inspectors into the territories of Member States and, under Article 82, it also has the power to impose sanctions on operators who have infringed safeguard requirements.

The safeguard system must also ensure that Member States fulfil the undertakings concerning nuclear safeguards they have entered into within international organisations and with third countries. In particular, all Member States are signatories to the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty signed in 1968, which allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that civil nuclear materials are not diverted for the purpose of producing nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. In this connection, nuclear safeguard agreements have been concluded between the Member States, the European Commission and the IAEA.

Following numerous changes in recent years, it has proved necessary to strengthen the system of safeguards applied by the IAEA. In 1998, the Member States signed additional protocols to the verification agreements concluded with the IAEA which widen the scope of those agreements.

The changes to these international undertakings have been incorporated into a new proposal for a safeguards regulation (COM(2002) 99 final), presented by the Commission to the Council.

Scope

Safeguards cover the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from the extraction of nuclear materials in the Member States, or their importation from third countries, to exportation outside the European Union.

A distinction should be drawn between Euratom safeguards, which involve only measures taken to control the use of nuclear materials, and nuclear safety, which concerns measures taken to limit the risk of accidents in the operation of nuclear installations.

Basic technical characteristics and particular safeguard provisions

It falls primarily to the person or undertaking setting up or operating an installation which uses nuclear materials for any purpose, such as production, storage, separation, research, etc, to declare the basic technical characteristics of the installation, as specified in the Regulation.

Operators of new installations must declare their technical characteristics at least 200 days before the first consignment of nuclear material is due to be received. They must specify:

  • the identification and the general arrangement of the installation and of the nuclear materials;
  • the accounting and control system for nuclear materials.

Moreover, a preliminary declaration is required 200 days before the installation is built.

Outline programme of activities

The persons responsible for an installation must draw up an outline programme of activities relating to each installation and forward it to the Commission department responsible for Euratom safeguards. It must contain the following information, to be provided at the intervals specified:

  • annually, an outline programme of activities;
  • at least 40 days before beginning the taking of a physical inventory, the programme for such work;
  • at least 40 days before starting to shut down a reactor for reloading, the programme for the shutdown.

The Commission may adopt particular safeguard provisions in respect of a specific installation, for instance concerning the frequency of, and procedures for, drawing up physical inventories.

Particular safeguard provisions

In the particular safeguard provisions, the Commission specifies the procedures by which the persons or undertakings concerned must meet the requirements imposed on them in relation to safeguards. These procedures are to include:

  • the designation of material balance areas (areas where the quantity of nuclear materials transferred may be determined upon entry and exit) and the selection of strategic points for determining the flow and stocks of nuclear materials;
  • the procedures for keeping records of nuclear materials;
  • the frequency of, and procedures for, drawing up physical inventories;
  • the type and content of the regular and special reports to be submitted to the Commission;
  • the information to be included in the documents presented for control measures.

Accounting for nuclear materials

A system of accounting for, and control of, nuclear materials which are stored and used at the installation must be established. Such a system must make it possible to establish and justify the declarations submitted to the Commission and to ensure that the nuclear materials currently in use or stored are subjected to close supervision.

Information on the nature, form and composition of these materials, their actual location and the relevant obligation and data relating to transfers are particularly important.

Under this system, those responsible for installations must submit regular reports to the Commission, including accounting reports, material balance reports describing changes in materials, inventory change reports and an annual summary of physical inventories (sum of all measured or calculated quantities of nuclear materials located in a material balance area at a given time).

Special reports are also provided for in special circumstances such as the loss of nuclear materials.

There are two distinct types of record:

  • the accounting record, which contains the following information:
  1. all inventory changes, so as to permit a determination of the book inventory (sum of the physical inventory determined by the most recent inventory for the material balance area and of all inventory changes occurring since that inventory was taken);
  2. all measurement and counting results used to determine the physical inventory;
  3. all corrections that have been made in respect of inventory changes, book inventories and physical inventories.
  • the operating record is a category of documents which, for each material balance area, contains:
  1. the operating data used to establish changes in the quantities and composition of the nuclear materials;
  2. the data obtained from the calibration of tanks, sampling and analysis, etc.;
  3. a description of the sequence of actions taken in preparing for, and in taking, a physical inventory in order to ensure that it is correct and complete;
  4. a description of the actions taken in order to ascertain the cause and magnitude of any accidental loss that might occur.

For each material balance area, the persons and undertakings operating an installation are to transmit to the Commission, no later than 15 days following the end of the month, inventory change reports for all nuclear materials held.

A special report must be made without delay following any unusual incident or circumstances or if the containment has unexpectedly changed from that specified in the particular safeguard provisions.

Ore producers are subject to a different accounting system. They must indicate, in particular, the quantity of ore extracted and its average uranium and thorium content, and the stock at the mine. These accounts must also contain details of shipments, stating the date, consignee, and quantity in each case.

Transfers between States

Exports of source materials and special fissile materials (principally plutonium 239, uranium 233 and uranium 235) to a third country and from a Member State which is not a nuclear weapon state to a Member State which is a nuclear weapon state, or vice versa, must be notified in advance to the Commission.

The same applies to installations which, within the same Member State, transfer materials the total quantity of which over a twelve-month period could exceed one effective kilogramme (an effective kilogramme is a special unit used for nuclear materials in the context of safeguards).

However, notification is not required if the quantity does not exceed one effective kilogramme. The same conditions apply to the importation and receipt of nuclear materials by Member States.

Each year, producers of ores must inform the Commission of the amounts of material dispatched from each mine during the previous year. Exporters of ores to third countries must inform the Commission of such exports no later than the date of dispatch.

Waste

The Commission must receive advance notification of most operations concerning the treatment of waste. In the case of transfers of nuclear waste which can no longer be used as nuclear materials, for instance waste embedded in cement (conditioned waste), the person responsible must notify the details to the Commission and submit an annual report on the location of the conditioned waste containing certain nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium.

Specific provisions applicable to Member States which are nuclear weapon states

The Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty recognises two EU Member States as nuclear weapon states, namely France and the United Kingdom.

Euratom safeguards do not apply to nuclear installations or nuclear materials intended to serve the defence needs of France or the United Kingdom. Nuclear materials or installations declared by those countries to be materials or installations intended for civil uses, and those which could be used for defence purposes, are subject to certain controls, provided such controls do not constitute a threat to national security.

For further information, please visit the DG TREN site on nuclear energy:

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States
Regulation (Euratom) No 3227/76 15.01.1977
Regulation (Euratom) No 220/90 11.06.1990
Regulation (Euratom) No 2130/93 15.08.1993

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Proposal of 23 March 2002 for a Council decision [COM(2002) 99 final – Official Journal C 227 E of 24.09.2002].

Since it entered into force twenty-five years ago, Regulation No 3227/76 has made it possible to apply Euratom safeguards. However, the new proposed regulation responds to the needs resulting from the new legal framework (the Additional Protocols), developments in the nuclear industry and the extensive possibilities offered by information technologies.

The main elements of the new regulation are as follows:

  • inclusion of articles and annexes concerning reporting under the Additional Protocols;
  • reporting of waste, including clear definitions of the categories of waste;
  • derogation from reporting in the case of installations holding material of lower strategic value;
  • new reporting format involving changes in the format and content of accounting reports;
  • use of the gram as the only unit of weight, and the requirement for electronic recording and reporting.

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – Operation of Euratom Safeguards in 2002 [COM(2003) 764 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Regulation (Euratom) No 302/2005 of 8 February 2005 on the application of Euratom safeguards – Council/Commission statement [Official Journal L 54 of 28.02.2005].