Safety regulation in decommissioning and legacy management

Safety regulations are defined as mandatory requirements that aim to prevent or reduce incidents or accidents. They may include laws, regulations, and guidelines and standards. Project implementers must ensure safety in all procedures taken in the decommissioning of nuclear installations according to existing regulations, while regulatory bodies are responsible in establishing regulations that will cover related issues in a comprehensive manner.

In the process of decommissioning, waste is generated in wide variety of ways with significantly larger volumes compared to operation. In addition, material composition and contamination spread in unexpected places can cause uncertainties that need to be dealt with to meet applicable regulations. When it comes to the management of legacy sites, it gets more complex because of increasing uncertainties related to unclear governance (e.g. policy, regulation), funding, disposal routes for waste created based on outdated regulatory standards or the unavailability of appropriate treatment technologies. In addition, regulatory framework is expected to be in accordance with the state of the art and safety standards. Safety regulation in decommissioning and legacy management needs to promote adequate dialogue with stakeholders and respond to a growing demand of public acceptance.

Publications and reports
NEA work on this topic

As many nuclear power plants will reach end of their operative lives over the next 20 years, decommissioning is an increasingly important topic for governments, regulators and industries. In order to address regulatory issues in the area of radioactive waste management, the NEA Regulators’ Forum (RF)  was established under the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC). With creation of the Committee on Decommissioning of Nuclear installations and Legacy Management (CDLM) in 2018, the programme of work has been extended to include the area decommissioning and legacy management. Since then, the RF has been exploring potential topics and increasing their activities within this area.