Italy is committed to effective nuclear regulatory oversight, but it faces challenges related to resources and needs to further develop policies for nuclear safety, decommissioning and radioactive waste management, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) peer review mission has concluded.
The 18-member team carried out an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission between 21 November and 2 December to assess the regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety in Italy. The mission was hosted by the government and the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research's (ISPRA's) nuclear, technological and industrial risk department, which is responsible for nuclear regulation until the new Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection has been established.
IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, while recognizing the responsibility of each member state to ensure nuclear and radiation safety. The missions compare regulatory technical and policy issues with IAEA safety standards and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere. The regulatory review process also draws directly upon the wide-ranging international experience and expertise of the regulatory review team members. The review results in a report that identifies good practices and provides recommendations and suggestions for improvement.
The IRRS team concluded Italy has a regulatory framework for safety in place and found several good practices. The team said Italy is using "state of the art" standards in the field of decommissioning and radioactive waste management. It has also developed and is using a comprehensive database and related tools for analysing transport safety issues. The team also said Italy's system for educating and training radiation protection experts is of a high quality.
The IAEA team also made a number of recommendations and suggestions for Italy to improve its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety. These include the continued development of national policy and strategies for safety, decommissioning and radioactive waste management. It also recommended Italy completes the legal framework for the approval of technical services, the establishment of national databases related to safety and improvements in aspects of the authorization process. The mission also said it should be ensured the regulatory body is provided with sufficient competent staff to carry out its responsibilities and duties.
The IRRS team also recommended Italy's regulatory body develops an integrated management system and improves its communication strategies. It also suggested it strengthens the regulatory framework for review and assessment, authorization, inspection, emergency preparedness and response, and occupational and public exposure control.
Team leader Ingemar Lund, senior adviser of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, said: "During our IRRS mission, strong leadership in safety and a very committed staff was evident. We hope our recommendations can contribute to further development of the Italian system for the regulation of protection and safety."
The final IRRS mission report will be submitted to the Italian government in about three months, the IAEA said. It noted Italian authorities have said they plan to make the report's executive summary public.
ISPRA director general Stefano Laporta 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."
Italy operated a total of four nuclear power plants starting in the early 1960s but decided to phase out nuclear power in a referendum that followed the 1986 Chernobyl accident. It closed its last two operating plants, Caorso and Trino Vercellese, in 1990. Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari (Sogin) was established in 1999 to take responsibility for decommissioning Italy's former nuclear power sites and locating a national waste store.
The country also have five research reactors and uses radioactive sources in medical, industrial and research applications.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News