Overview of national policy concerning radioactive waste management
The French nuclear activities produce solid, liquid or gaseous waste, some of which is radioactive. The national policy on radioactive waste is that reliable, transparent and stringent management of this waste must ensure the protection of individuals, preservation of the environment and limitation of undue burdens imposed on future generations.
The general principles of radioactive waste management have been set initially by the December 30th 1991 Waste Act (called as well loi Bataille ) and later modified by the above-mentioned 2006 Planning Act on the sustainable management of radioactive materials and waste , and are the following:
- sustainable management of radioactive materials and waste of whatever nature, resulting in particular from the operation or dismantling of installations using radioactive sources or materials, with due regard for the protection of personnel health, safety, and the environment,
- in order to avert or limit the burden that will be borne by future generations, research is undertaken and the necessary means for the definitive securing of radioactive waste shall be implemented,
- producers of spent fuel and radioactive waste are responsible for those substances, without prejudice to the responsibility their holders have as nuclear activity operators.
A National Plan for the management of radioactive materials and waste (PNGMDR) is considered as an important tool to improve radioactive waste management. The first edition of this plan has been issued at the beginning of 2007 by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and the General Directorate for Energy and Climate (DGEC). It is notably based on the National Inventory of radioactive waste and recoverable materials issued by Andra.
After their operating period, nuclear installations need to be decommissioned and dismantled in due time. Installations (NPPs, nuclear plants, research installations, etc.) have to remain at all times in a satisfactory safety condition, even they have ceased to be operated, taking into account the specific nature of the dismantling operations. Dismantling operations produce radioactive waste which has to be managed with the same principle as the above-mentioned one.
In this respect two important acts were promulgated in 2006: