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Law creating the Nuclear Safety Council (2007)

On 7 November 2007, Law 33/2007 on the creation of the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) was passed.

This new law substantially amends Act 15/1980, by which the CSN was created 27 years ago as the only public entity in charge of nuclear safety and radiological protection in Spain, being independent from the government and with legal personality and its own financial means. Although the 1980 Act has been amended several times (mainly by Act 14/1999 of 4 May 1999, of Taxes and Public Prices for the services rendered by the CSN), this new law takes into account experience acquired since that time and aims to adapt the CSN to growing social demands on environmental matters, to ensure that it maintains its effective independence, and to reinforce the transparency and efficiency of this public body.

The new law has neither changed the legal status nor the competence and basic organisation of the CSN; rather it responds to a need to update the legal and regulatory framework in order to:

  • enhance the CSN's capabilities (expanding its functions and reinforcing its regulatory power);
  • reinforce transparency, access to information and public participation in matters within the CSN's jurisdiction;
  • adapt the Nuclear Energy Act to the latest scientific knowledge and update its enforcement regime.

The major amendments which have been introduced are as follows:

  • The legal nature of the CSN's regulations (CSN's Instructions) is more clearly defined, as well as the procedure for their preparation and communication to the Parliament before they are approved. For example, in the preparation of its Instructions, the CSN shall encourage public participation according to Act 27/2006 which implements the Aarhus Convention in Spain. Also the legal nature of informative documents (Circulars) and recommendations (Guidelines) is reflected in this act, as well as Supplementary Technical Instructions that the CSN is entitled to submit directly to licensees at any moment to ensure the safety and security of installations and activities.
  • New authority is given to the CSN to require physical protection reports as a requirement for issuing licences for installations and activities, as well as a sanctioning initiative. Further, new functions include co-operation with competent authorities in the areas of radiation protection, of medical treatments and nuclear safeguards.
  • Contracting external services shall be subject to the condition that there is no relationship between the supplier of the service and the licensees involved in the subject matter of the service being provided. Furthermore, only CSN officers may participate in decision making in relation to administrative procedures.
  • Under the new law, the CSN will now report to regional legislative assemblies and governments on any event that may affect the safety or radiological protection of nuclear and other installations posing radiation risks. A number of mechanisms to reinforce transparency, access to information and public participation have been introduced in the amended act:
  • First, the public's rights in respect of information handled by the CSN are the same as those in respect of its access to information, participation in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters under Act 27/2006.
  • Every person who works for or provides a service to a nuclear installation is to report to the licensee, as well as to the CSN, if no corrective action is taken in due time concerning any known fact that might affect the safe functioning of the installation or the observance of safety regulations. This provision is contemplated as both a worker's right and an obligation simultaneously. A "whistleblower" protection clause is included to protect a "reporting" worker and sanctions are provided against the employer who initiates any reprisal against him or her.
  • There is an obligation to provide information to the public about relevant facts (safe functioning, radiological impact, events and incidents, remedial measures) and about all decisions taken by the Plenary of the CSN. Draft instructions and guidelines will be subject to public consultation, and the CSN shall encourage and participate in information fora in the areas near nuclear installations.
  • An Advisory Committee, chaired by the President of the CSN will issue non-binding recommendations for improving transparency, public access to information and public participation in matters within the CSN's jurisdiction.
  • Some provisions of the act are subject to further legislative development, and it is expected that these developments will be approved within approximately nine months from enactment of the new law.

Related links

Nuclear Legislation in OECD Countries: Spain
Regulatory and Institutional Framework for Nuclear Activities
Each country profile in this valuable reference work provides a detailed review of a full range of nuclear law topics. These include: the general regulatory regime, including mining; radioactive substances and equipment; nuclear installations; trade in nuclear materials; radiation protection; radioactive waste management; non-proliferation and physical protection; transport; and nuclear third party liability. This profile was last updated in 2001.

Nuclear facts and figures for OECD countries
Number of nuclear units connected to the grid; Nuclear electricity generation (net TWh); Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply.

IEA energy statistics: Spain
Data is available in the following areas: coal, oil and gas use; electricity production, supply and consumption; heat production, supply and consumption; and graphs of sectorial final consumption by source.

The Decommissioning and Dismantling of Nuclear Facilities in OECD/NEA Member Countries: Spain
This compilation of national fact sheets is intended to serve as an authoritative source of reference information on individual NEA member countries. In this context, the term "nuclear facility" includes all facilities associated with the production of nuclear power, from mining of uranium, through fabrication of nuclear fuel, nuclear power plant operation, fuel reprocessing and waste management, including related R&D facilities, and research and demonstration reactors.

Related NEA publications

Nuclear Energy Data
Nuclear Energy Data is the NEA’s annual compilation of essential statistics on electricity generation and nuclear power in OECD countries. The reader will have quick and easy reference to the status of and projected trends in total electricity generating capacity, nuclear generating capacity, and actual electricity production, as well as to supply and demand for nuclear fuel cycle services.

Last updated: 21 August 2008