The safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management, decommissioning and remediation are areas of high importance for the IAEA and the European Commission (EC). On these topics, the IAEA and the EC have collaborated for several decades to continually strengthen and improve cooperation and synergies.
EU Member States have also taken steps to further the safe and responsible management of spent fuel and radioactive waste generated by nuclear applications, research, education, medical and industrial activities. This included agreeing on a EURATOM Directive in 2011, so called "waste directive", which establishes a "framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste".
Joint effort to enhance the safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel
The IAEA integrated peer review service for radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes (ARTEMIS) plays a key role in providing a cross-cutting peer review service for Member States worldwide, as well as in relation to the peer review obligations stemming from the EU Directive on waste management.
The comprehensive nature of ARTEMIS review service makes it a suitable avenue for those IAEA Member States, that are seeking to meet the obligations of the European Union 2011 Waste Directive, which requires peer reviews in these nuclear areas every ten years (Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM).
Current framework of cooperation
The European Commission (EC) and the IAEA concluded an agreement titled "EC-IAEA Contribution Agreement in Nuclear Safety – Supporting Integrated Regulatory Review Services (IRRS) and Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) in the EU" with the overall objective of fostering an effective national framework for nuclear safety, radiation protection, radioactive waste management, transport safety and emergency preparedness and response in European Union Member States, with or without nuclear power programmes. The Agreement is in line with the Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom (2014), specifically the obligations under its Article 8e of the “amended Nuclear Safety Directive” as well as with the Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom, specifically its Article 14.3 of the “Waste Directive.” The Agreement pursues 3 main outcomes:
- Enhanced governmental, legal and regulatory framework for nuclear safety against the IAEA Safety Standards in Member States hosting IRRS missions.
- Enhanced management of radioactive waste, decommissioning and remediation (RWMDR) against the Safety Standards in Member States hosting ARTEMIS missions.
- To improve support to EU Member States in the context of the “amended Nuclear Safety Directive” and the “Waste Directive” while exploring and benefiting from the synergies between IRRS and ARTEMIS.
The activities under the Contribution Agreement will be carried out from 2021 to 2023 by the IAEA, as the implementation body, in collaboration with ENSREG and the EU Member States’ nuclear regulatory authorities.
Past framework of cooperation
In 2013, the IAEA and the EC signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Safety to reinforce collaboration between the two organizations. The Memorandum outlined an enhanced framework for their continued future activities. Among the specific areas of cooperation listed in the document is the following:
" Provision of IAEA peer reviews of radioactive waste and spent fuel management of the IAEA Member States which are Member States of EURATOM, that so request, in accordance with IAEA Safety Standards and in line with the 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."
In 2014, the EC and the IAEA concluded a specific Indirect Management Delegation Agreement (IMDA) dealing with “EC-IAEA Cooperation in the Field of Nuclear Safety and Waste Management”. The purpose of the IMDA and its amendment was to “provide additional resources to the IAEA to implement ARTEMIS peer review activities in EU Member States under the Waste Directive hence facilitating Member States compliance with their obligations under Article 14.3 of the Waste Directive (Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom)”. It covered the period from 2014 to 2020 with the objective “to strengthen appropriate national arrangements to ensure responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste”.
The main activities conducted from 2014 to 2020 were:
- The preparation of a 10-year programme of ARTEMIS missions
- The development of ARTEMIS Guidelines and ARTEMIS self-assessment questionnaire
- The development and implementation of a training programme for reviewers involved or potentially involved in ARTEMIS missions
- The Implementation of planned ARTEMIS missions and ARTEMIS informational and preparatory meetings
- The identification of a pool of experts
- The development of a monitoring programme to collect lessons learned from ARTEMIS missions for delivery optimization.