26 Oct (NucNet): Spain could face challenges in the implementation of its radioactive waste management strategy and the government should ensure that delays in establishing a centralised storage facility do not affect the safe management of spent fuel and higher-level waste, an International Atomic Energy Agency mission said today following a mission to the country.
The mission said Spain had shown “a strong commitment” to nuclear and radiation safety, but should take immediate steps to update the national radioactive waste plan.
The government, the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN), the Ministry for Ecological Transition, and the Spanish Radioactive Waste Management Agency (Enresa) should develop regulations, technical requirements and an implementation plan for a deep geological disposal facility, the team said.
For the first time, the IAEA carried out two different peer reviews combined in one mission, which concluded this week in Spain. The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team looked at the Spanish regulatory framework for nuclear and radiological safety. The Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (Artemis) provided an evaluation of the country’s radioactive waste management programme.
The mission said the government should improve coordination among operators, response organisations and regulatory authorities during a nuclear and radiological emergency.
It said CSN should complete cooperation agreements with other national competent authorities regarding the management of contaminated sites.
According to the IAEA, nuclear power generates around 20% of Spain’s electricity. The country has seven commercially operating nuclear power reactors and three in permanent shutdown, two of which are being decommissioned.
Most of the reactor sites have interim spent fuel storage facilities and Spain has one disposal facility for very low-, low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. There are plans for the construction of a facility – the centralised storage facility – for higher level radioactive waste and spent fuel, but its licencing review has been temporarily halted by the government.
The IAEA mission said Enresa had finalised a state-of-the-art design for the centralised storage facility as part of a national strategy to manage spent fuel.