Belgian Delegation Comments on the Nuclear Package of Legislation (link)

February 13, 2004

Brussels, 12 Feb 2004

Full text of Document 6074/04
Suite of documents 6074/04

Nos prev. docs.: 5206/04 ATO 2 ENER 4 ENV 9
5207/04 ATO 3 ENER 5 ENV 10
No. Cion prop.: 8990/03 ATO 95 ENER 132
Subject: Nuclear package
- Proposal for a Council (Euratom) Directive setting out the basic obligations and general principles on the safety of nuclear installations
- Proposal for a Council Directive (Euratom) on the management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste

Delegations will find attached the Belgian delegation's comments on 5206/04 and 5207/04.

Belgium's comments on the nuclear package

Belgium would like to highlight the importance it attaches to the development, upholding and constant improvement of a high standard of safety of nuclear installations and to the safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. Its domestic programmes are designed accordingly and Belgium is playing an active part in international initiatives having the same aims.

These comments are without prejudice to the form eventually taken by the texts making up the nuclear package. In particular, the recitals of the two draft Directives, which have not yet been considered in any detail, will have to be revised if the Council opts for directive form.

The wording of the Resolution proposed (by D/UK/FIN and S) will also have to be considered in more detail, although the draft can already be seen to reflect the relevant aspects of the issue.

Specific comments

Draft Directive on nuclear safety ( 5207/04 )

Article 2:

The present definition of nuclear installations extends beyond power plants as covered by the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS). It is as yet uncertain whether the principles in the draft Directive, which in large part duplicates the CNS provisions, can usefully be applied to other installations covered, such as nuclear fuel plants or radioactive waste storage facilities. Discussions under way at the IAEA have not so far led to that conclusion and the codes of conduct being drawn up for some such installations do not merely transpose the CNS. It is thus too soon to cast the net so wide and Belgium would like the definition to cover power plants only. This suggestion is also apposite in view of the difficulty of applying Articles 14 and 15 to other installations (see below).

Article 5:

Discussions in the Working Party on Atomic Questions have clearly shown the importance of fully establishing in the proposals the principle, as enshrined and spelt out in the CNS, of responsibility for nuclear safety lying with the operator, under the supervision of the safety authority. At present, though, this still remains shrouded in some doubt, particularly in Article 5. In order to remove any such doubt, some aspects of the decision-making process for the introduction of nuclear safety measures need to be clarified. Belgium would suggest the following wording;

"Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the prime responsibility for the safety of a nuclear installation rests with the holder of the relevant licence, under the control of their regulatory bodies. The safety measures and controls to be implemented shall be decided on solely by the regulatory body and the operator. When doing so, the regulatory body and the operator shall take due account of the IAEA safety standards, international practices, field experience feedback, or any other sources they consider relevant in particular with regard to the control of the installation and to the individual measures related to it.".

Article 14 (with implications for Article 13): Belgium has already expressed its reservations regarding the appropriateness of mandatory peer review. There is insufficient justification for the additional staffing and administrative burdens to be imposed on safety authorities.

What is more, the content of such peer review may prove unduly difficult to establish, owing to different understandings of requirements under the Directive. If a narrow view is taken, only the laws and regulations introduced by the Member State in transposing the Directive might have to be looked at by the team of experts, whereas a broader view might give the experts an open brief to assess the operation of the safety authority visited, in accordance with detailed arrangements decided on by the Committee. In any event it would seem unreasonable at this stage, in view of considerable differences in attitude, to leave it to some future Committee to determine the content of peer review.

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