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IAEA Mission Finds Romania Committed to Safe Management of Radioactive Waste, Encourages Improvements in Long Term Planning


Photo: Dan Nevill/flickr (Dan Nevill/flickr)

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said that Romania is committed to the safe and sustainable management of radioactive waste while noting opportunities for improving implementation including preparations for further disposal facilities for radioactive waste from nuclear fuel cycle activities.

The Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) mission which took place from 13 to 22 March was requested by the Government of Romania to evaluate its national programme for the safe and sustainable management of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

Radioactive waste in Romania comprises material from fuel cycle activities and other institutional radioactive waste from research, industry and hospitals. Institutional radioactive waste in Romania is currently disposed of at the National Repository Radioactive Waste (DNDR) disposal facility. The Government plans to build two further disposal facilities for radioactive waste from nuclear fuel cycle activities. The first facility for short-lived low and intermediate level radioactive waste is to be constructed near the Cernovoda nuclear power plant site. It is planned to commence operations in 2028. The second facility, a deep geological disposal facility for high level waste, is planned to be commissioned around 2055. The location has not yet been determined.

ARTEMIS missions provide independent expert advice from an international team of specialists convened by the IAEA. The reviews assess the country’s national programme against IAEA Safety Standards and technical guidance as well as international good practices. The mission was requested by Romania to fulfil its European Union (EU) obligations that require an independent review of EU Member States’ national programmes for the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. 

Hosted by the Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Agency (ANDR), within the Ministry of Energy, the ten-day ARTEMIS mission involved detailed discussions with Romanian counterparts to review specific topics such as the national strategy for radioactive waste, the radioactive waste inventory, and the financing of radioactive waste management.

Romania generates radioactive waste from its one nuclear power plant, at Cernavoda. It consists of two 650-Megawatt electric (MWe) pressurized heavy-water reactors and accounts for about 20% of the country’s electricity. Unit 1 went into commercial operation in 1996 and Unit 2 in 2007. In addition, Romania operates one research reactor, one nuclear fuel manufacturing plant and uses radioactive sources in medical and industrial applications. One research reactor is in decommissioning.

“Romania has developed a comprehensive approach to the management of radioactive waste and is committed to further develop and implement safe and sustainable radioactive waste management, whilst continually seeking to minimize waste generation,” said ARTEMIS team leader Richard Cummings, Technical Director of Nuclear Waste Services, United Kingdom. “The Government is well aware of the necessary steps to ensure the safe management of its radioactive waste and is aiming to acquire the appropriate expertise.”

The ARTEMIS review team comprised six experts from Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, supported by three IAEA staff members. The team’s recommendations and suggestions for the safe and sustainable management of radioactive waste in Romania included: 

  • ANDR should improve the waste management strategy to take account of the links between the different steps of radioactive waste management, as well as the impact of the anticipated disposal options.
  • ANDR should finalize the plans for involving interested parties, in particular with communities that may host the deep geological disposal site, to ensure that they are properly engaged in the site selection process.
  • The Government should allocate appropriate funding, including for the nuclear safety regulator, to further build and strengthen the capacity to implement the national strategy for radioactive waste management.

“Romania has sought to follow safety standards and apply international good practices and to harness information-sharing opportunities when it came to establishing procedures for our national waste management,” said Mihaita Gaina, President of the Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Agency from the Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Agency. “The report from this ARTEMIS mission will provide us with welcome recommendations and suggestions to ensure we reach further and maintain a high level of safety.”

Anna Clark, IAEA Head of the Waste and Environmental Safety Section, said that Romania is in a good position to continue meeting high standards of safe and responsible management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. “Romania was open and transparent in the discussions and showed willingness to make full use of this ARTEMIS peer review mission. We are convinced that the findings will help Romania to deliver against its commitment to continuously improve the safe and effective management of radioactive waste,” she said.

The final mission report will be provided to the Government in about two months. The Government has decided to make the report public.


ARTEMIS is an IAEA peer review service for radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes. This service, available to all IAEA Member States, is intended for facility operators and organizations as well as for regulators, national policy makers and other decision makers.

IAEA Safety Standards

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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