The International Atomic Energy Agency has for the first time combined two different peer reviews in one mission to look at Spain's regulatory framework for nuclear and radiological safety and to evaluate the waste management programme.
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team looked at the regulatory framework while the Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (Artemis) evaluated the radioactive waste management programme. The 14-day mission comprised a team of 24 senior experts from 16 countries as well as IAEA staff.
The mission said that Spain could face challenges in the implementation of its radioactive waste management strategy and that the government should ensure that delays in establishing a centralised storage facility do not affect the safe management of used fuel and higher-level waste. Spain had shown “a strong commitment” to nuclear and radiation safety, it noted 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.
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.
Spain 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 centralised storage facility for higher level radioactive waste and used fuel, but the government has temporarily halted its licensing review. The IAEA mission said Enresa had finalised a state-of-the-art design for the facility as part of a national strategy to manage used fuel.