Belgium can rely on significant experience in the field of decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. Several projects are ongoing and include research reactors (BR3, Thetis), uranium and MOX fuel fabrication plants (FBFC International, Belgonucleaire), fuel reprocessing facilities (Eurochemic) and radwaste processing facilities (Belgoprocess). Additional projects are expected in the coming years with the planned final shutdown of the oldest nuclear power reactor units. Two national authorities are involved in the decontamination and decommissioning process of nuclear facilities. The FANC (together with its subsidiary Bel V) is concerned for all matters related to nuclear safety and radiation protection, while NIRAS/ONDRAF is concerned for all matters related to radioactive waste and fuel management and financial provisions. These attributions ensure that all safety and material concerns are addressed and that both the licensees and the national authorities bear their own responsibilities. They rely on an existing regulatory framework covering both the procedural and the technical aspects of the decontamination and decommissioning activities. However, opportunities for regulatory improvement were raised after some recent events in Belgium, among which the bankruptcy of a nuclear company producing radioisotopes, involving numerous additional interested parties in a complex judiciary context. Amendments in the current regulations are considered to increase the prerogatives of the authorities regarding the management of radioactive waste by a licensee, the transfer of an operating license from an operator to another, and the general decommissioning strategy of a facility. Furthermore, a dedicated “waste and decommissioning” working group within WENRA defined new reference levels applying to the decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. Belgium committed to include these requirements explicitly in its national legislation, even though most of them were already included in the existing decommissioning authorizations. Amendments will cover the safety provisions inherent to the decontamination and decommissioning phase, such as the decommissioning strategy, the qualification of techniques, the experience feedback valorization, the periodic safety reviews, the radioactive waste management, or the final characterization of the sites. Additionally, requirements regarding the authorization process will be detailed, such as the content of the licensee’s application file or the structure of the safety report covering the decontamination and decommissioning phase. These changes will contribute to a more secure regulatory framework for all interested parties.
- Nuclear Engineering Division
- Environmental Engineering Division
Belgian Regulatory Framework for Decontamination and Decommissioning: Lessons Learned and New Initiatives
Creemers, J, Hermans, G, Schrayen, V, Van Wonterghem, F, Wertelaers, A, & Schrauben, M. "Belgian Regulatory Framework for Decontamination and Decommissioning: Lessons Learned and New Initiatives." Proceedings of the ASME 2013 15th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management. Volume 2: Facility Decontamination and Decommissioning; Environmental Remediation; Environmental Management/Public Involvement/Crosscutting Issues/Global Partnering. Brussels, Belgium. September 8–12, 2013. V002T03A042. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICEM2013-96305
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