An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (Artemis) team said Slovenia has a comprehensive, robust and well-functioning system for used fuel and radioactive waste management, while also noting areas for further improvement.
The mission was carried out at the request of the Government of Slovenia and was hosted by the Agency for Radwaste Management (ARAO). This Artemis mission was organised to follow an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission, which offered the team the opportunity to take into account the IRRS findings on the legal and regulatory oversight of activities, facilities and exposure situations in the field of radioactive waste and spent fuel management.
The Artemis team comprised five experts from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Sweden, and the UK, and three IAEA staff members. Meetings were held with representatives from the ARAO, Krško NPP, Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration (SNSA) and the Fund for financing the decommissioning of the Krško NPP and the disposal of its radioactive waste and used fuel.
The majority of radioactive waste in Slovenia is generated from the operation of the Krško NPP, jointly shared with the Republic of Croatia. Used fuel is currently stored in used fuel pools at the NPP site and the construction of a facility for dry used fuel storage is nearing completion. Slovenia is also considering deep geological disposal of used fuel from the Krško NPP together with other high-level wastes (HLW) generated at Krško NPP and used fuel coming from Slovenia’s TRIGA Mark II research reactor.
Most low and intermediate activity waste also originates from NPP operations and are stored on site. Other radioactive material comes from medical, industrial and research activities and is kept at the Slovenia’s Central Storage Facility for Radioactive Waste. Construction of a silo type disposal facility for low and intermediate activity waste at Vrbina, in the vicinity of the Krško NPP, is planned to begin this year and be operational by 2024.
The team acknowledged that Slovenia will need to meet a number of critical milestones and objectives within the coming years as its programme for the management of radioactive waste and used fuel expands. The experts found Slovenia is committed to the proactive pursuit of a wide range of opportunities for waste minimisation across all radioactive waste.
“The Slovenian system covers all steps in the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel, with many related facilities already being in place or under advanced development,” said Artemis team leader Michael Egan, Senior Analyst, Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. The Artemis review team noted Slovenia is aware and committed to address the challenges in managing the operational and decommissioning waste from Krško NPP by planning and developing the infrastructure that is needed.
The team also a number of recommendations including:
- The Government should ensure effective coordination among all stakeholders in the National Programme in order to meet any challenges that arise as Slovenia develops arrangements for a final disposal repository at Vrbina.
- In addressing the recommendations from the earlier IRRS mission with regard to human resources for SNSA, the review team suggests that consideration should be given to the particular human resources needs of both SNSA and ARAO in meeting their responsibilities for safe radioactive waste and used fuel management.
- ARAO should consider further developing decision criteria to facilitate selection of a preferred disposal strategy for HLW and used fuel.
“It was the first time that IRRS and Artemis missions were held back-to-back and we will use the experience and lessons learned for future missions,” said Anna Clark, Head of the Waste and Environmental Safety Section in the IAEA Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety. “We are convinced that the findings from the Artemis Mission will help Slovenia to further enhance the safe and effective management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.” The final mission report will be provided to the Slovenian Government in about two months.