An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of safety experts said Italy is committed to effective nuclear regulatory oversight but faces challenges related to resources and needs to further develop policies for nuclear safety, decommissioning and managing radioactive waste.
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team today concluded a 12-day mission to assess Italy’s regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety. The mission was hosted by the Government and the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), which is responsible for nuclear and radiation safety regulation in the country.
Italy’s four nuclear power reactors are in the process of being decommissioned. Italy also has five research reactors and utilizes radioactive sources in medical, industrial and research applications. The government has a plan to construct a facility for disposal of low and intermediate level radioactive waste and long term storage of high level waste.
“During our IRRS mission, strong leadership in safety and a very committed staff was evident,” said team leader Ingemar Lund, Senior Adviser of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. “We hope our recommendations can contribute to further development of the Italian system for the regulation of protection and safety”
IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national regulatory infrastructure, while recognizing the responsibility of each State to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.
The IRRS team said Italy has a regulatory framework for safety in place and identified several good practices while also making recommendations and suggestions aimed at improving regulatory functions. A new regulatory body, the Inspectorate for Radiation Safety and Radiation Protection, will be in place in the near future.
The experts said the major challenges for Italy are insufficient resources for the regulatory body to perform its functions and the need to implement strategies and plans for decommissioning and building a disposal facility for radioactive waste.
The IRRS mission comprised 14 experts from Sweden, France, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Slovenia, Cuba, Luxembourg, Spain, Hungary and four IAEA staff members.
Meetings were organised with the State Undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Protection. The activities of the team included observations of regulatory activities, interviews and discussions with staff from ISPRA, the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Protection, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health, the Prefecture of Rome, of the National Civil Protection Department of Piemonte Region. The experts visited a radioactive waste management facility, a research reactor, a medical facility and a nuclear power plant under decommissioning. They observed inspection activities and held discussions with licensee personnel and management.
Stefano Laporta, Director General of ISPRA, said: “The effort made by ISPRA staff to conduct the self-assessment and to host the IRRS mission as well as the commendable work done by the IRRS team will provide very useful bases for further improving our national regulatory system for nuclear safety and radiation protection.”
The IRRS team identified a number of good practices, including:
- The use of the “state of the art” standards in the field of decommissioning and waste management.
- The development and use of a comprehensive data base and related tools for analysing transport safety issues.
- The Italian system for education and training of qualified experts which is of high quality in radiation protection.
The mission provided recommendations and suggestions for improvements, including:
- The Government should continue to develop national policies and strategies for safety, decommissioning and radioactive waste management;
- Complete the legal framework in regards to approval of technical services, establishment of national data bases related to safety and improvements in aspects of the authorisation process;
- Provide the regulatory body with sufficient competent staff to carry out its responsibilities and duties.
- The regulatory body should develop an integrated management system;
- Strengthen the regulatory framework for review and assessment, authorization, inspection, emergency preparedness and response, and occupational and public exposure control;
- Improve communication strategies.
The final mission report will be provided to the Government about three months. Italian authorities told the IAEA they plan to make the report’s executive summary public.