Decommissioning means all the activities required to be developed at a nuclear or radiological facility, other than a repository, finally shut down, in order to unrestrictive release or reuse the site. The decommissioning activities are administrative and technical and they allow the partial or total cease of the regulatory authority’s control over the nuclear and/or radiological facility and they include the drawing up, endorsement and approval of documents, obtaining of permits and authorizations, ensuring the financial resources, the decontamination, the dismantling, the demolition, the controlled removal of the equipments, components, structures as reusable or, predominantly, as conventional or dangerous waste (radioactive, toxic), the demonstration of criteria accomplishment for conditioned or unconditioned radiological release of the facility and the land included in the decommissioning project. For the decommissioning of the nuclear/radiological facilities it is necessary a planning stage and an implementation stage.

The documents from planning period help the developers and operators of the decommissioning activity to consider the main aspects of the decommissioning activity and, additionally, the bodies that assess them for endorsing and approving to get the necessary information for the validation of decommissioning activity. Decommissioning planning is carried out until the facility is released from the authorization conditions and it also takes into consideration the management of radioactive waste resulting from decommissioning, including the financial resources for ensuring the estimated costs for the management of these radioactive waste. The final stage of radioactive waste management is the disposal in repositories at/under the land surface or deep geological repositories depending on the activity and the half-life time of the radionuclides contained by the waste.

During the decommissioning planning of major nuclear/radiological facilities specific documents are developed: the Decommissioning Plan (DP) and supporting documents for DP, that establish and prove efficiently and safely the development of the decommissioning activity both for people and environment. The decommissioning planning starts since the designing period of a major nuclear or radiological facility and it is periodically reviewed, every five years, during the operation or preservation period of the nuclear and/or radiological facility, the main document developed being DP. DP is stepwise carried out, with increasing complexity: the initial plan (conceptual) since the designing stage, the initial plan (conceptual) reviewed during the operation period of the facility and the final decommissioning plan (detailed) according to which the decommissioning is implemented. DP has the structure and content established according to national norms in force (with standard requirements) or according to express requirements of CNCAN. The content should be coherent and minimal, correlated with the facility and site.

Due to the importance given, currently, to the future decommissioning activity, DP in the initial and reviewed initial (updated) stages are necessary for obtaining the construction and operation authorizations of the major nuclear and/or radiological facilities. The final DP is necessary for obtaining the decommissioning authorization of the major nuclear and/or radiological facilities (issued by CNCAN) and for setting out the stages and the implementation activities of the decommissioning in accordance with the chosen decommissioning strategy (management of the decommissioning project, quantities, categories and routes for the radioactive waste management, fulfilment demonstration of the release conditions under the authorization requirements of the buildings and ground and getting the certification from CNCAN, the necessary technical, human and financial resources). Only final DP is enforceable approved, the previous editions of DP (initial, updated) being analysed and approved with the observations and the conditions that should be implemented in subsequent reviews of DP. Decommissioning is considered completed when the radiological criteria established by the standards are met at the place of decommissioning and are certified by CNCAN, and the resulting radioactive waste are safely stored or disposed.

According to the documents issued by IAEA, in terms of decommissioning three approaches are considered as decommissioning strategy:

Immediate dismantling – is the strategy through which the decommissioning activities are achieved by continuous operations that begin relatively quick after the final shut-down of the radiological and nuclear facilities, with the aim of release from authorization requirements.

Deferred dismantling – is the strategy through which the decommissioning activities are achieved by initial operations interrupted by a safe storage period up to the final activities of release from authorization requirements.

Entombment – is the decommissioning strategy through which the facilities with radioactive material are covered with insulation structures on long term until the radioactivity reaches a level that will allow the release from authorization requirements.

According to the provisions of art. 14 lett. l) and m) of G.O. 11/2003, republished, ANDR (according to HG 1437/18.11.2009, published in Official Gazette 865 of 11.12.2009) through the Department for National Management of Radioactive Waste (DANDRAD) has, as main attributions, the endorsement of the documentation afferent to the decommissioning process of the nuclear and/or radiological facilities, drafted by the main radioactive waste generators, and the coordination of the nuclear and radiological facilities decommissioning activities. ANDR receives from the licencees, for endorsement, the documentation stipulated by the norms in force approved by Order of CNCAN’s President, for the nuclear and radiological facility to which the provisions of G.O. 11/30.01.2003, republished, are applied. When radioactive waste results from decommissioning of the nuclear and/or radiological facilities, ANDR expresses its point of view on the decommissioning documentation, independent and before CNCAN. The main document analysed for the endorsement of major nuclear or radiological facilities is DP.

The coordination of the decommissioning activity at national level by ANDR implies a series of activities:

  • to collect and correlate information received from licensees  regarding their decommissioning actions and referral/guidance of them in cases of necessity;
  • of proposal-reception-endorsement of works within research-development programmes with funding from state budget or from decommissioning fund;
  • of endorsement of decommissioning documents;
  • of participation in the coordination committees of the projects with national and/or European funding;
  • of  participation in the decision-making process at national level in the field of decommissioning of the nuclear and/or radiological facilities and managing radioactive waste resulted from decommissioning, for harmonizing the resources and the activities of institutions and organizations with attributions and responsibilities in the field etc.

These activities are developed in order to fulfil the objectives defined in the “The National Strategy on Medium and Long Term Management of Spent Nuclear Fuel and Radioactive Waste, Including the Disposal and the Decommissioning of Nuclear and Radiological Facilities” developed by ANDR by consulting the licensees. The coordination of the decommissioning activity by ANDR through anticipatory components and in real time helps the deployment in optimal and safe conditions of the decommissioning activity.

The financial resources required for the nuclear-power plants decommissioning are constituted by annual contributions of the license holders into accounts opened by ANDR (for the license holder’s incomes resulting from commercial activities that will be used timely with ANDR approval and CNCAN advisory endorsement) or into the license holder’s account, from the state budget, for research-development facilities fully financed from the state budget. For each nuclear power plant an account at the State Treasury is opened, by ANDR, in which the operator constitutes financial resources necessary for the decommissioning of each unit, according to a fee imposed through GD, based on the net quantity of electrical power generated.

The nuclear license holder has the main responsibility regarding the decommissioning of its nuclear or radiological facility (at planning level and implementation) according to the provisions of Art. 27 of Law no. 111/1996 regarding the safe development, the regulation, authorization and the control of nuclear activities, republished and of Article 24, paragraph (1) of G.O. 11/2003, regarding the safe development of radioactive waste, republished. According to the law, the license holder may fulfil the responsibilities with its own staff or with contractors properly licensed.

Regarding the decommissioning activity, the licence holder is responsible for:

  • establishing the decommissioning strategy (immediate dismantling, deferred dismantling, entombment) and the DP preparation/revision throughout all the period as long as it operates and holds the major nuclear/radiological facility;
  • drafting the documentation for the decommissioning approval;
  • establishing the quality assurance programme;
  • management of the decommissioning project and of the nuclear or radiological facilities decommissioning;
  • ensuring all the security and environmental issues during the decommissioning activities;
  • performing the safety assessment and the environmental impact study for the decommissioning activity;
  • preparation and implementation of working procedures that result from DP;
  • ensuring  properly qualified and trained staff for the decommissioning activity;
  • performing radiological characterizations as support for the decommissioning activity;
  • management of radioactive waste resulting from nuclear or radiological facilities decommissioning;
  • ensuring, according to the law, the financial resources necessary for supporting the decommissioning activity till the disposal of radioactive waste resulting from decommissioning;
  • ensuring the final release of the facility by the regulatory control based on the final radiological survey;
  • keeping the records and the documents developed during the decommissioning activity and submission of reports as requested by the regulatory body (CNCAN) and by the coordinating authority (ANDR).

The license holder can transfer the liability in the decommissioning field to ANDR after the period of operation of the nuclear or radiological facilities (according to Art. 24, paragraph (2) from G.O. 11/2003, republished) through Governmental Decision in the case of nuclear reactors (According to Art. 5, paragraph 2 from G.O. 7/2003 regarding the use of nuclear power in exclusive peaceful purposes, republished on the basis of Law 27/2006 for the amending and supplementing the G.O. no. 7/2003).

ANDR takes over the duties of nuclear and/or radiological facilities decommissioning in the case in which the financial resources resulting through judicial liquidation are insufficient (Art. 29, paragraph (3) from GO 11/2003, republished). The state guarantees, through ANDR, that there will be no situation where nuclear or radiological facilities will remain, after the operation period, in a state of radiological insecurity for people and environment.

ANDR, as national authority that coordinates the decommissioning activity of the nuclear facilities, that can be responsible for the decommissioning activity in the situations stipulated by the law, that follows and contributes to establishing the legal framework for the setting up of financial resources required for nuclear facilities decommissioning, for radioactive waste management and the disposal of radioactive waste, can help to ensuring the best conditions for the efficient development of nuclear facilities decommissioning activities in Romania, the major premise for wining the people’s trust for the future nuclear activities.