European Commission adopts draft directive on management of radioactive waste and spent fuel
On 3 November 2010, the European Commission officially adopted a draft directive on management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. It has now been submitted to the Council of Ministers of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament, which will examine the terms of the proposal.
Like the Commission, ASN believes that a European regulatory framework for the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel must be defined. It is part of the approach initiated by the Community to adopt a directive on this matter.
ASN considers that the Commission’s draft directive constitutes a real advance since it defines a legally-binding framework for the European Union based on internationally-recognised safety standards. ASN has been especially involved in the preliminary work of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators’ Group (ENSREG) that resulted in the draft directive on the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel that was sent to the Commission.
In particular, ASN believes that setting up a regulatory authority in each EU Member State competent in the area of safe management of waste and spent fuel and with the financial and human resources necessary to accomplish its missions would be an important advance. Provisions relating to transparency, peer evaluation and preparation of a national plan for radioactive waste management likewise constitute significant progress for the EU. On the last point, ASN, which participates in preparing the French National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan (PNGMDR), believes that implementation of such a plan by each Member state constitute a major step forward.
In Brussels, the 27 Member States and European Parliament have begun negotiating the text. ASN, whose competence in the safe management of waste and spent fuel is recognised in the Planning Act of 28 June 2006 on the Sustainable Management of Radioactive Materials and Waste, will closely monitor progress on the directive.
 This draft directive is part of a larger effort initiated with the draft directive on the safety of nuclear facilities adopted in 2009. The Commission seeks to establish a regulatory framework that will ensure safe operation of nuclear power facilities in Europe. Established in the area of nuclear safety, the framework exists for radiation protection. Now what remains is to implement regulations for the management of nuclear waste and spent fuel.
 ENSREG, created in March 2007, unites officials from EU safety authorities and the European Commission. On the basis of policy directions defined by the Council of Ministers, it has begun a dialogue on safety, management of waste and spent fuel and transparency in the nuclear sector on the European level. This work has led to the adoption of a directive on nuclear safety (25 June 2009).