Nuclear regulatory authority
The key regulatory functions (rulemaking, licensing, assessment, inspection and enforcement) related to nuclear safety and radiation protection matters, including also the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, and decommissioning, are assigned in Italy to the following main bodies:
- The Ministry of Economic Development is the authority which grants the licence/authorization for nuclear activities (from the design and construction to the decommissioning and waste disposal) and for major practices involving the use of ionising radiations. Some authorizations are granted in agreement with and taking into account the Regional administration where the installation is located. Within the decommissioning authorization procedure, remarks and opinions formulated by other ministries (Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment) have to be taken into account. For specific activities included in the decommissioning process, the authorisation shall take also into account environmental impact assessment (D.Lgs n.152/2006).
- The National Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ISIN) is the Governmental body entrusted with the role of Competent Regulatory Authority responsible for the assessment and for the inspection activities on nuclear installations. ISIN has also the responsibility for approving detailed designs or operational activities to be implemented in the context of the construction or decommissioning of nuclear facilities (under the general construction licence granted by the Ministry of Economic Development), or aimed to the implementation of a plant modification. The licence/authorization issued by the Ministry of Economic Development is based on the technical advice and specifications formulated by ISIN which is also in charge to supervises, throughout its inspection activity, the compliance with the requirements established in the law and with the technical conditions and specifications issued in the authorizations as well as in specific approvals of detailed projects or plans of operations.
Commercial utilization of nuclear power in Italy started in the early ‘60s with four nuclear power plants, namely the NPPs of Garigliano (BWR), Latina (MAGNOX), Trino (PWR) and Caorso (BWR). During that period, an extensive R&D programme on the nuclear fuel cycle have been developed with the operation of experimental fuel cycle installations (e.g. LEU fuel fabrication and two reprocessing plants). The four NPPs have been definitively shut down since 1987 after a referendum and decommissioning authorization have been issued for all NPPs. Concerning the fuel cycle installations, only for the LEU fuel fabrication facility the decommissioning license was issued (2008). Currently, the decommissioning process is in the final stage. The other fuel cycle installations (two pilot reprocessing plant and one Pu fuel fabrication installations) stopped their main activities and currently they are committed in preparing their decommissioning plans. However, some operational activities, preparatory to the decommissioning process, have been authorized and are being carried out by the operator. One away from reactors spent fuel storage facility (wet type) remains in operation (Avogadro AFR storage pool). Four research reactors and a few temporary storage facilities for medical and industrial waste are in operation. Support to the civil protection offices is provided for national and local radiological emergency preparedness. In the field of the emergency management, ISIN is entrusted by the law to advice civil protection competent Authorities in prepare for and response to nuclear and radiological emergencies. Within the framework of the international nuclear and radiological emergency conventions, ISIN is the Italian competent authority.
Radioactive waste and spent fuel management
As far as the radioactive waste is concerned, almost all the waste generated by the operation of nuclear installations are stored in the sites of origin. Additional amounts of radioactive waste arise from a number of facilities using radioactive sources in medical, research and industrial applications.
The national policy on spent fuel management calls for the shipment abroad (UK and France) of the spent fuel for reprocessing in foreign facilities. About 13 tHM of spent fuel still remain to be shipped to France from Avogadro AFR storage pool.
In relation to the long term management of radioactive waste and spent fuel, a National Repository consisting of a LLW/ILW near surface disposal facility and a long term storage facility for HLW, long lived waste and spent fuel, is foreseen to be realized in Italy (the siting process is ongoing). In particular, the ILW-HLW long term storage facility will be devoted to the storage of HLW resulting from the reprocessing of the spent fuel abroad.
Main legal instruments
The main legal instruments are the Act n° 1860/1962, the Legislative Decree n. 101/2020, which implements the Euratom Directives on nuclear safety and radiation protection, and Legislative Decree n. 31/2010. For emergency preparedness and response, relevant provisions are established in the Legislative Decree n. 101/2020, also including arrangements for the information that must be given to the public, both as prior information as well as information during an emergency.
Moreover, under the Environmental Impact Assessments procedure, as provided by the Legislative Decree 152/2006, any application must be published in the most widely disseminated national newspaper by the applicant, who has to issue a non-technical summary of the activity with appropriate drawings to be made available to the public.
Act No. 241, issued in 1990 on Transparency of Public Administration, recognizes, in general, the right of the public to have access to documents, decisions and to their background.
Last updated in February 2021