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In the case of Spain, currently the only case applicable for IBERDROLA GENERACIÓN NUCLEAR nuclear business relating waste management, the legal and national management framework is the following:

The Nuclear Energy Act, defined in article 2, paragraph 9, defines radioactive as:

“Any material or waste product, for which no further use is intended, that contains or is contaminated with radionuclides in concentrations or activity levels higher than those established by the Ministry of Industry and Energy and the previous Nuclear Security Council Report”

The Safety Series Nº 11-G-1.1 of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) presents the classification of nuclear waste in the following classes:

  • Low activity: Waste containing low levels of radionuclides that do not require shielding during transport and handling.
  • Medium Activity: Waste with a radionuclide content that requires shielding and heat dissipation equipment during transport and handling.
  • High Activity  
    • Highly radioactive liquids primarily containing fission products, like some actinides, that are separated during reprocessing of spent fuel or chemicals (aqueous waste from the first cycle solvent extraction and accompanying waste streams).
    • Any other waste with intense activity levels sufficient to produce significant amounts of heat through radioactive decay.
    • Spent fuel from the reactor, if declared as waste.

In this same legislation, exempted waste is defined as waste containing such small quantities of radioactive material that it is not considered radioactive and is exempt from regulatory control. The activity concentration recommended for these materials is between 0.1 Bq/g and 10E4 Bq/g.

  • Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM of 19 July 2011, establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

Other Guides from the IAEA, such as the Safety Standard 111-S-1, also outline the criteria to be considered for radioactive waste management according to classification.

The objective of all phases of the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel is to have effective measures to protect workers, the public and the environment from the potential risks and harmful effects of ionizing radiation, now and in the future, as stated in the Joint Convention on the Safety Fuel Management and on Radioactive Waste Management, which was signed in Vienna on September 5, 1997, and ratified by Spain and published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado on April 23, 2001.

The Nuclear Energy Act states that nuclear facilities must have special facilities for the storage, transport and handling of radioactive waste. To enable compliance with the legal requirement for facility operators , Real Decreto 1522/1984, later repealed by Real Decreto 1349/2003, in 1984 created the Empresa Nacional de Residuos Radiactivos (National Radioactive Waste Company), ENRESA, as an authorized company for, among other functions:

  • Treating and conditioning radioactive waste.
  • Establishing systems to collect, transfer, and transport radioactive waste. It should be stressed that once ENRESA is responsible for waste and spent fuel it acquires ownership through formal transfer.
  • Adopting safety measures for the transport of radioactive waste, in accordance with the provisions of specific regulations for the transport of hazardous materials determined by the authorities and competent governing bodies.
  • Managing the transactions involving the dismantling and decommissioning of nuclear and radioactive facilities.
  • Developing systems that ensure the safe management of their long term storage facilities for radioactive waste.
  • Managing the fund for financing the activities of the General Plan for Radioactive Wastes in accordance with the provisions of Real Decreto 1349/2003.

In 1989 the Ministry of Industry established a Contrato-Tipo (Standard Contract), which is a permit granted by the state administration. This Contrato-Tipo (Standard Contract) specifies the radioactive waste management services provided by ENRESA to the nuclear and radioactive facility operators and establishes the duration and the financial compensation received for services rendered to the power plants. This Contrato-Tipo (Standard Contract) applies for the entire duration of the life of the facility, including the decommissioning of nuclear power plants.


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