IAEA completes Luxembourg waste management review

03 October 2018

Luxembourg's programme for managing its small amount of radioactive waste shows a commitment to safety and a pragmatic approach to waste management, but could be further enhanced by strengthening the national regulatory framework, a team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts has found.

ARTEMIS team members with counterparts from the Ministry of Health pictured on 28 September 2018 (Image: Ministry of Health of Luxembourg)

The five-day mission of the IAEA Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) team, which concluded on 28 September, aimed to help Luxembourg meet European Union obligations requiring an independent review of national programmes for the management of radioactive waste and used fuel.

Luxembourg does not operate any nuclear power plants and has only a small amount of radioactive waste from medical and other activities. Short-lived radioactive materials are stored domestically before regulatory clearance, while legacy waste and disused radioactive sources are ultimately sent to Belgium for subsequent management under a bilateral agreement.

The ARTEMIS team of two experts from Lithuania and Cuba and three IAEA staff members commended the Luxembourg authorities for their pragmatic approach to waste management. It also recommended the country's Ministry of Health should enhance the regulatory framework for the safe predisposal management of radioactive waste, decommissioning of facilities and remediation activities in accordance with relevant IAEA safety standards. It also recommended that the ministry should ensure that the Department of Radiation Protection (DRP), which is responsible for radioactive waste management, remains independent as a regulatory authority from operational radioactive waste management facility and activities.

The team also recommended that the DRP should consider further developing the safety provisions and procedures for establishing the safety case and safety assessment for facilities and activities in the pre-disposal management of radioactive waste.

"Even though the production of radioactive waste is very limited in Luxembourg, it has been important for us to seek confirmation that our plans and strategies for safe radioactive waste management are adequate," DPR head Patrick Majerus said. "The recommendations will help us to further enhance compliance with international safety standards."

The government of Luxembourg plans to make public the final mission report, which it will receive in about two months.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News