Europe constitutes the priority field of international action for ASN, which thereby intends contributing to the construction of a Europe of nuclear safety, of safety of management of nuclear waste and spent fuel and of radiation protection.
On July 19, 2011 the Council of the European Union adopted a directive "establishing a community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste" (directive 2011/70/Euratom). The adoption of this directive constitutes a key event that helps strengthening nuclear safety within the European Union while at the same time making the member states more accountable for the management of their radioactive waste and spent fuels.
This directive is legally binding and institutes a community framework on a priority issue.
- This directive covers all the aspects of radioactive waste and spent fuel management, from production through to long-term disposal.
- It reiterates the prime responsibility of the producers and the ultimate responsibility of each member state to ensure the management of the waste produced on its territory, making sure that the necessary measures are taken to guarantee a high level of safety and to protect workers and the general public against the dangers of ionising radiation.
- It defines the obligations concerning the safety of management of radioactive waste and spent fuel.
It obliges each member state to create a legal framework relative to the questions of nuclear safety, providing for:
- the establishing of a competent regulatory authority with a status that guarantees its independence from the waste producers
- the establishing of licensing procedures, the license applications being investigated more specifically on the basis of safety demonstrations by the licensees.
- It governs the development of the national radioactive waste and spent fuel management policies that each member state will be required to implement. More specifically, each member state must establish a legislative and regulatory framework designed to set up national programmes for the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. France for its part has, since 2006, had a National Radioactive Material and Waste Management Plan (PNGMDR).
The directive also contains provisions concerning:
- transparency and the participation of the public,
- the financial resources for the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel,
- the obligations for regular self-assessments and peer reviews.
It formalises the ultimate responsibility of each member State to ensure the management of its radioactive waste and governs the possibilities of exporting this waste for disposal.
These aspects therefore represent major advances to enhance the safe and responsible nature of the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel in the European Union.
Also see: "The EURATOM treaty and secondary legislation"