The European Commission has adopted a new recommendation that contains measures to ensure adequate and properly managed financial resources for nuclear decommissioning activities, as well as for the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.

As there is currently a debate on the revival of nuclear energy in several European Union member states, the Commission recommendation has paid special attention to new nuclear constructions. While a segregated fund with appropriate controls on use is the preferred option for all nuclear installations, a clear recommendation to this effect has been made for the newly established facilities, the Commission said.

The Commission has also proposed establishing competent national bodies, independent in their decisions from the contributors to the decommissioning funds, with a mandate and the capacity to deliver an expert judgment on decommissioning matters.

The adoption of this recommendation is a major step forward in making nuclear energy a safe and secure solution said EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs. It would be of clear benefit for nuclear safety if rules for the constitution, management and use of decommissioning funds were harmonized throughout the EU in such a way that ensures sufficient funds will be available when required.

The regulator also said that it intends to set up a permanent group of national experts, and publish an annual report on the use of decommissioning and waste management funds in all member states concerned.

The decommissioning of nuclear installations is set to become an increasingly important issue in the coming years. It is anticipated that approximately a third of the 148 power reactors currently operating in the enlarged European Union will need to be decommissioned by 2025.