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IAEA presents ‘areas for improvement’ in Croatia’s radioactive waste management

Croatia is committed to addressing the challenges of managing its radioactive waste, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to the country (22 June).

The Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) review team concluded a nine-day mission to Croatia on 19 June, initiated at Croatia’s request and hosted by the Croatian Fund for financing the decommissioning of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

ARTEMIS reviews are conducted by international specialist peer reviewers assembled by the IAEA to provide independent expert assessments on various aspects of radioactive waste management, decommissioning, and remediation.

The review focused on evaluating Croatia’s national framework, strategy, and program for the safe and sustainable management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. Special attention was given to the plans for managing radioactive waste from the Krško NPP and the establishment of a Radioactive Waste Management Centre in Čerkezovac, Croatia.

Spent nuclear fuel from the Krško NPP is currently stored at the plant, with plans for disposal in a geological facility in Croatia or Slovenia. Some low-level and intermediate-level waste will be transferred to Croatia’s Radioactive Waste Management Centre at Čerkezovac, along with other sources of radioactive waste.

While recognising Croatia’s progress in waste management, the ARTEMIS team identified areas for improvement. These include clarifying the roles of relevant organisations, ensuring consistent planning assumptions and program milestones, establishing safe and secure centralised storage for institutional waste, providing regulatory guidance for safety assessments, and addressing human resource needs within the regulatory body and the Fund.

Croatian officials expressed their appreciation for the review, emphasising its value in strengthening their waste management framework and ensuring safety, the IAEA said.

The ARTEMIS review team consisted of experts from Canada, France, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, along with three IAEA staff members. An observer from the European Commission was also present to support Croatia’s need to meet EU obligations for independent reviews. During the review, the team met with representatives from the Fund, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, and Nuklearna Elektrarna Krško.

The final report will be presented to the Croatian government within two months, the IAEA noted.

The ARTEMIS service provides integrated expert reviews for radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning, and remediation programs, targeting facility operators, waste management organisations, regulators, policymakers, and decision-makers. These reviews are guided by the IAEA Safety Standards and other relevant documents, providing a comprehensive framework for ensuring safety and protecting people and the environment from ionising radiation.

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