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IAEA Mission Says Hungary Committed to Safe Management of Radioactive Waste, Sees Opportunities for Further Enhancement

Budapest, Hungary

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said that Hungary is committed to the safe and effective management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, 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 ten-day mission to Hungary on 29 March. The mission was carried out at the request of the Government of Hungary and hosted by the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA), which is responsible for nuclear and radiation safety regulation in the country.

The team, which comprised five experts from Denmark, Finland, France, Lithuania and Sweden, as well as three IAEA staff members, held meetings with officials from the Ministry for Innovations and Technology, the Hungarian waste management organisation called the Public Limited Company for Radioactive Waste Management (PURAM), the Paks Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), and the HAEA at its headquarters in the capital, Budapest. Observers from Slovenia, which will host an ARTEMIS later this year, and from the European Commission also participated in the mission.

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 Hungary aimed to support the country in meeting European Union (EU) obligations that require an independent review of national frameworks and programmes for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

Hungary generates half of its electricity from four nuclear power reactors at the Paks NPP, located 130 km south of Budapest. The country is planning to build another two reactors at the same site. Hungary also operates two research reactors, isotope production, and uses radioactive sources in industrial, medical and research applications.  

In Hungary, radioactive waste and spent fuel are managed by PURAM. Spent fuel from the Paks NPP is stored in reactor pools and in the dry storage facility at the Paks site. Two disposal facilities are in operation, one for low and intermediate level waste from the NPP and one for other institutional waste. A disposal facility is envisaged for very low level waste in preparation for the future shut down and decommissioning of the four reactors at Paks NPP. Hungary is moving ahead in the development of a deep geological disposal facility for high level waste.  

The ARTEMIS team highlighted that Hungary has developed and implemented a comprehensive, robust and well-functioning system to maintain and further enhance the safety and effectiveness of spent fuel and radioactive management.

“The Hungarian system provides a well-developed infrastructure for ensuring the safe and effective management of spent fuel and radioactive waste now and in the future,” said ARTEMIS team leader David Ulfbeck, Senior Adviser at the Danish Health Authority. “The ARTEMIS review team noted potential for enhancing the decision-making process for the backend of the fuel cycle and elaborating the regulatory framework for disposal of very low level radioactive waste.”

As a good practice, the ARTEMIS team identified performance in improving the safety of disposal facilities for low and intermediate activity level waste. The team recognized the safety improvement programme which PURAM has designed and implemented at an existing disposal facility at Püspökszilágy based on a comprehensive comparison of different options in terms of long term safety assessment and evaluation of radiological risks for workers and the public.

Anna Clark, Head of the Waste and Environmental Safety Section in the IAEA Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety, said that “Hungary’s approach to this peer review mission has been excellent. The preparation and presentation of information have enabled open and fruitful discussions. We are convinced that the findings from the ARTEMIS Mission will help Hungary to further enhance the safe and effective management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.”

In addition, recommendations and suggestions provided by the team included:

  • The national policy sets out a sequence of decisions regarding the management of spent fuel but it does not specify when or how the decisions are made. The Government should specify when and on what basis such decisions shall be made.
  • The HAEA should consider completing development of safety regulations for management of very low level waste including disposal.

“We are very glad to receive independent international feedback that acknowledges Hungary’s commitment and efforts in the area of spent fuel and radioactive waste management and we are proud of the good practice found by the experts of the Mission,” said Andrea Beatrix Kádár, President of HAEA. “We are committed to continuous improvement. Based on the recommendation and suggestions, we will prepare and implement an action plan that facilitates achieving main goals in this field.”

The final mission report will be provided to the Government 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 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. Additional supplementing IAEA documents such as Nuclear Energy Series publications can be included in the review basis to supplement the safety standards series. 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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