Nuclear decommissioning—regulatory
Nuclear decommissioning—regulatory

The following Environment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Nuclear decommissioning—regulatory
  • What is nuclear decommissioning?
  • Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)
  • Nuclear decommissioning authority (NDA)
  • Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Natural Resources Wales—EA/SEPA/NRW
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Regulation applicable to new nuclear power stations
  • Other relevant legislation

What is nuclear decommissioning?

Decommissioning is the process of dealing with redundant nuclear facilities that have reached the end of their operational life. Nuclear installations are decommissioned to ensure that the site is returned to a state that can be used for an alternative use and to make sure that the site can be de-licensed (ie released from the site licence regulatory control, as required under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (NuIA 1965), as amended).

The European Commission makes the assumption that more than 50 of the 129 reactors currently operating in 14 EU Member States will need to be shut down by 2025 and thus it is clear that decommissioning will become more important in the years ahead, particularly because of the associated long-term financial planning.

Decommissioning is usually carried out in three phases:

  1. stage 1—the post-operational clean out when the majority of the radioactive materials are removed from the installation

  2. stage 2—initial dismantling and removal of contaminated parts and care/maintenance to allow radioactive materials to decay

  3. stage 3—dismantling the rest of the facility, including structure demolition and remediation of land and water to an agreed level for future use

Government policy on decommissioning is set out in guidance which has been published by the Environment Agency (EA), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on the decommissioning

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