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IAEA Finds Comprehensive Programme for Radioactive Waste Management in Slovenia, Notes Areas for Enhancement

Ljubljana, Slovenia

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said Slovenia has a comprehensive, robust and well-functioning system for spent fuel and radioactive waste management, while also noting areas where it could be further enhanced.

The Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) team concluded a nine day mission to Slovenia on 30 May. The mission, carried out at the request of the Government of Slovenia, was hosted by the Agency for Radwaste Management (ARAO).

This ARTEMIS mission was organized back-to-back with an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission, conducted from 4 to 14 April, 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 team, comprised of five experts from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and three IAEA staff members, held meetings with representatives from the ARAO, Krško Nuclear Power Plant (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 spent nuclear fuel.

ARTEMIS missions provide independent expert advice from an international team of specialists convened by the IAEA. Reviews are based on the IAEA safety standards and technical guidance as well as international good practices. The mission to Slovenia aimed to help the country meet European Union (EU) obligations that require an international peer review of the national framework and national programme with the aim of ensuring that high safety standards are achieved in the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

The majority of radioactive waste in Slovenia is generated from the operation of the Krško NPP, jointly shared with the Republic of Croatia. Spent fuel is currently stored in spent fuel pools at the NPP site and the construction of a facility for dry spent fuel storage is nearing completion. Slovenia is also considering deep geological disposal of spent fuel from the Krško NPP together with other high level wastes (HLW) generated from the Krško NPP and the spent fuel coming from the country’s TRIGA Mark II research reactor.

Most low and intermediate activity waste in the country also originate 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 ARTEMIS team acknowledged that Slovenia will need to meet a number of critical milestones and objectives within the next years as its programme for the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel expands. The experts found Slovenia is committed to the proactive pursuit of a wide range of opportunities for waste minimization 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 that the Slovenian counterpart 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 made a few recommendations and suggestions, 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 to the Government 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 spent fuel  management.
  • ARAO should consider further developing decision criteria to facilitate selection of a preferred disposal strategy for HLW and spent 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.”

“We are very grateful to receive this independent review with valuable advice, suggestions and recommendations which will help us to improve the safe management of radioactive waste,” said Leon Kegel, Slovenian National Liaison Officer for ARTEMIS mission to Slovenia. “The expert technical perspectives will support our work in decommissioning, radioactive waste and spent fuel management, organizational performance, safety and security, and operations, and will improve transparency and stakeholder confidence and strengthen our decision-making processes.”

The final mission report will be provided to the Slovenian Government in about two months.


ARTEMIS is an integrated expert review service for radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes. This service is intended for facility operators and organizations responsible for radioactive waste management, as well as for regulators, national policy makers and other decision makers.

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements, and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

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