First report on the progress of implementation of the Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management Directive
|Classification||1.01.4.15/13 (WASTE - DIRECTIVE 2011/70/EURATOM)|
|Remarks||+ Accompanying document|
From the publication:
1. INTRODUCTION Under Article 14(2) of the Directive 2011/70/Euratom1 (hereinafter 'the Directive'), the Commission is required to submit to the European Parliament and Council, every three years, a report on progress made on the implementation of this Directive and an inventory of radioactive waste and spent fuel present in the Community’s territory, including future prospects. This is the first time the Commission is in a position to provide a comprehensive overview to the European Union (EU) citizens on this important issue. Although the progress reported by the Member States is not always fully comprehensive and comparable, this report nevertheless provides a clear picture of the current situation and highlights areas where further improvements and attention are required. All Member States generate radioactive waste, and 21 of them also manage spent fuel on their territory. Owing to its radiological properties and the potential hazard it poses to workers and the general public, it is important to ensure the safe management of such material from generation to disposal. This requires containment and isolation from humans and the living environment over a long period of time. By adopting and transposing the Directive, Member States have acknowledged their legal and ethical obligation to ensure a high level of safety when managing these materials and to avoid undue burdens on future generations. Radioactive waste is radioactive material in gaseous, liquid or solid form for which no further use is foreseen or considered, and which has been classified as radioactive waste. Its generation is associated with the production of electricity in nuclear power plants or with non- power-related uses of radioactive materials for medical, research, industrial and agricultural purposes. Based on its radiological properties and potential hazards, radioactive waste is generally classified as ‘very low level waste’, ‘low level waste’, ‘intermediate level waste’ or ‘high level waste’.2 In the EU, almost 90 % of radioactive waste is classified as ‘very low level waste’ or ‘low level waste’. Spent fuel is nuclear fuel that has been permanently removed from a reactor core following irradiation that is no longer usable in its present form. It is generated by the operation of nuclear reactors for power generation, research, training and demonstration. In order to manage spent fuel, Member States can choose to either recover part of the material by reprocessing it – the remaining material being high level waste to be disposed – or to dispose the spent fuel directly, meaning it would be reclassified as high level waste. This explains why the management of this material should be addressed jointly with the management of radioactive waste. Each Member State is free to define its own energy mix. At the time of Member States reporting, there were 129 nuclear power reactors in operation in 14 Member States,3 with a total capacity of about 120 GWe and an average operating time of 30 years. As estimated in the Nuclear Illustrative Programme (PINC),4 more than 50 of the reactors currently in operation in the EU are to be shut down by 2025, while new build projects are envisaged in ten Member States, with four reactors under construction in Finland, France and Slovakia. This will lead to the generation of additional radioactive waste and spent fuel that will need to be safely and responsibly managed beyond this century. The adoption of the Directive was a major step towards achieving a comprehensive and legally binding framework at EU level for the safe and responsible management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The Directive’s aim is to: − ensure that workers and the general public are protected against dangers arising from ionising radiation now and in the future. This goes beyond national borders; − implement the highest safety standards for radioactive waste and spent fuel management and avoid imposing undue burdens on future generations; − achieve commitment from the Member States to implement sustainable and timely solutions for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, including in the long term with passive safety features; − ensure translation of political decisions into clear actions (i.e. policies and programmes, specific projects and the construction of facilities) for the implementation of all steps of radioactive waste and spent fuel management; − maintain continued improvement of the management system with priority to safety, based on step-by-step decision-taking, transparency and public involvement; − ensure adequate and transparently managed financial resources, available when needed, in accordance with the principle that those who generate radioactive waste or spent fuel bear the costs of their management.