Italian cabinet defines nuclear framework

11 February 2010

A cabinet meeting on 10 February saw the Italian cabinet approve the nuclear law that should return nuclear energy to the country. It sets out a framework for a number of vital new-build issues, such as siting and waste management.


This latest 'nuclear delegate law' is a requirement of the development law of July last year, that swept aside a 23-year ban on nuclear energy as part of a drive to increase energy independence.


Among other things, the law covers nuclear site location, local consultation and radioactive waste management. Amendments were still being made to the text yesterday after the Consiglio di Stato made requests concerning local authority involvement in site selection criteria and process. Corresponding revisions were made by commissions of the lower chamber of the senate, which also released their own suggestions and comments.


Some of the comments were then included in the final text, which states that site selection will be decided by the central and regional government, but they must take into account the opinions of the relevant city council. The adequacy of this involvement is seen as vital after recent conferences of regional leaders resulted in votes against the federal nuclear policy.


For nuclear power plants and fuel-cycle facilities, a so-called 'unique authorisation' would be required for build in addition to an environmental permit. In addition to current laws dealing with waste treatment, the new Nuclear Safety Agency will produce some guidelines for radioactive waste management, while Sogin will no longer be the only company authorised to decommission old nuclear facilities.


The law also specified how the proceeds of levies on new nuclear power plants are to be distributed to local areas. Communities up to 40 kilometers from a nuclear power plant or up to 20 kilometers from a fuel cycle facility stand to benefit. Ten percent is to go to the province, 55% to the city-level administration and 35% to neighbouring cities. At the same time, these benefits are to be divided with 40% going to public authorities and 60% to private citizens and corporations in the form of tax exemptions.


Another two deadlines have also been set: Within three months (by 10 May) the cabinet should issue a nuclear strategy document - the result of negotiations between the ministries of economic development, education and environment. Two months after that (by 10 July) will come a draft from the Nuclear Safety Agency after collaboration with the above ministries. This document will give technical criteria for site selection in terms of population and socio-economic issues, risk of seismic activity and hydrology among others. Power companies will then be able to present plans for development within these suitable areas.
Reporting by Luciano Lavecchia
for World Nuclear News


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