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IAEA Mission Says Croatia Committed to Managing Radioactive Waste Safely, Sees Areas for Improvement

Zagreb, Croatia

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission said that Croatia is committed to addressing the challenges of managing its radioactive waste. The review identified specific areas for additional efforts including the development of arrangements for the safe and secure centralized storage of radioactive waste.

The Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) review team concluded a nine-day mission to Croatia on 19 June. The review was carried out at the request of Croatia and hosted by the Croatian Fund for financing the decommissioning of Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) (the Fund).

ARTEMIS reviews provide independent expert assessments using teams of international specialist peer reviewers convened by the IAEA. They can cover all aspects and topics related to managing radioactive waste and spent fuel, decommissioning and remediation. Reviews are based on the IAEA Safety Standards, technical guidance, and international good practices.

The ARTEMIS review evaluated Croatia’s national framework, strategy and national programme for fulfilling the country’s obligations for safe and sustainable management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. Croatia and Slovenia are co-owners of the Krško NPP, which is located in Slovenia. The ARTEMIS review gave special emphasis to the plans for the management of radioactive waste from the Krško NPP and the plans for the establishment of a Radioactive Waste Management Centre at Čerkezovac in Croatia.

Spent nuclear fuel from the Krško NPP is initially stored at the plant. After storage, the spent fuel will be disposed of in a geological disposal facility which is planned to be developed at a location in Croatia or Slovenia. Low-level and intermediate-level waste from the Krško NPP is initially stored at the plant. There are plans to transfer half of this waste to Croatia, where it will be stored at the Radioactive Waste Management Centre at Čerkezovac. This facility will also receive radioactive waste, including disused sealed radioactive sources from medicine, industry, agriculture, research and education in Croatia. These are currently being kept at the locations where the sources were used. Waste which will be stored at the planned Radioactive Waste Management Centre at Čerkezovac will later be disposed of at facilities which are to be developed in Croatia.

The ARTEMIS review team comprised five experts from Canada, France, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom and three IAEA staff members. As the review was requested to support Croatia’s need to meet EU obligations for independent reviews of national frameworks and programmes for managing radioactive waste and spent fuel, an observer from the European Commission also attended. The review team met with representatives of the Fund, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, and Nuklearna Elektrarna Krško.

In its review, the ARTEMIS review team considered the findings from previous IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) reviews in 2015 and 2019.

“Croatia has several of the necessary elements in place for a national programme for managing radioactive waste including stable financing arrangements,” said ARTEMIS team leader, Amélie de Hoyos, Safety of Radioactive Waste Disposal Engineer at the French institute for radiological protection and nuclear safety (IRSN). “Our review identifies areas for improvement, but notes that the Croatian counterpart is committed to addressing challenges associated with managing waste arising within the country, as well as managing the nation’s share of operational and decommissioning waste from the Krško NPP. Croatia’s efforts are currently focused on the predisposal management of the waste”.

“We are confident that the findings from the ARTEMIS review will provide a sound basis for the Croatian team to further enhance the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste,” added Anna Clark, Section Head for Waste and Environmental Safety at the IAEA.

The ARTEMIS review team identified recommendations and suggestions to improve the management of radioactive waste in Croatia, including:

  • Providing clarity and consistency on the roles of the relevant organizations, on planning assumptions and on programme milestones to facilitate communication and decision making.
  • Providing arrangements for the safe and secure centralized storage of institutional waste in Croatia.
  • Developing guidance stating regulatory expectations for safety assessments to support authorization of radioactive waste storage and disposal facilities.
  • Addressing the human resource needs of the regulatory body and the Fund.

“The suggestions and recommendations formulated by the ARTEMIS review team and comprehensive discussions during the ARTEMIS review meeting represent key elements which will definitely help us in further improving our waste management framework, planning and implementation,” said Josip Lebegner, Director of the Fund.

Zdravka Tečić, Head of Sector for Radiological and Nuclear Safety of the Civil Protection Directorate at the Ministry of the Interior, said: “We are very grateful to receive this independent review, which will support our work in ensuring the safety of the radioactive waste.”

The final report from the review will be provided to the Government of Croatia in 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 policymakers 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. IAEA documents, such as Nuclear Energy Series publications, are also included in the review basis. They include practical examples to be used by owners and operators of utilities, implementing organizations, academia, and government officials in Member States, among others.

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