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B.3 Development of Reference Regulations for Decommissioning (based on the new Safety Requirements and Guides)

Project Rationale

The objective of radioactive waste management, including decommissioning, is to deal with radioactive waste in a manner that protects individuals, society and the environment now and in the future without imposing undue burdens on future generations. This objective is achieved by establishing a framework for decommissioning and radioactive waste management practices that ensures compliance with international safety requirements.

At present, many countries are facing decommissioning of their shutdown and ageing facilities without having a proper regulatory framework for decommissioning and waste management. In some of them, the existing waste management framework is oriented only towards operational waste management, while the decommissioning component is completely missing.

The IAEA has been working systematically to provide guidance, services and training events for assisting its Member States to establish the decommissioning and waste management infrastructure needed for safe preparation and implementation of decommissioning activites.

An additional step and logical continuation of the IAEA efforts in this direction is the development of model reference regulations for decommissioning based on the IAEA Safety Standards. The need for model reference regulations for decommissioning is a gap that has been identified in many expert missions and by the organizers of the IAEA’s school for drafting, revising and reviewing of regulations.


The project objective is to develop reference regulations for decommissioning to be used by the Member States in establishing a regulatory framework for preparation and implementation of decommissioning of facilities containing radioactive materials.


  • Enhanced capabilities of Member States in the development of national decommissioning regulations. The Member States’ capabilities to regulate the implementation of safe and efficient decommissioning will be strengthened by the use of reference regulations, which will be based on international Safety Standards and good practices;
  • The resulting IAEA reference regulations can be used by Member States as a starting point in developing national decommissioning regulations.

Beneficiary Countries: All Member States

This project is part of the IAEA’s approved Programme and Budget for 2014-15 and is included under IAEA Project on “Decommissioning and Remediation Safety”. The project is conducted by the IAEA with supplementary funding from the European Union.

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IAEA TECDOC on “Model Regulations for Decommissioning”

Sixteen participants from fourteen countries participated in the technical meeting held at IAEA Headquarters, Vienna, 13-16 April 2015, on the review of the Technical Document “Model Regulations for Decommissioning”. The Model Regulations are presented with notes and appendices for future drafters (reviewers) explaining technical or procedures details to be considered by the regulator or the licensee in implementing the requirements. This meeting issued a Meeting Report which is available. See Meeting Report.

Technical Meeting


Technical Meeting to present and review the draft technical document on “Model Regulations for Decommissioning” (TM-49543), IAEA, Vienna, 13 – 17 April 2015.

Technical Document

1. Objective

This TECDOC aims at providing Member States with advice on an appropriate set of regulations covering all aspects of the decommissioning of facilities. It also allows Member States to appraise the adequacy of their existing regulations and regulatory guides. The intent was to cover the whole range of circumstances related to decommissioning.

This TECDOC provides examples of articles for a national regulation which cover those requirements and recommendations of IAEA Safety Standards addressing the obligations of the operator / applicant / licensee (further licensee) in preparation and conduct of decommissioning and provides explanatory notes to more easily apply the articles in decommissioning projects. Latest IAEA Safety Requirements were considered in drafting this TECDOC.

This TECDOC is presented in a manner that provides advice on structuring and developing compatible national regulatory framework and then provides a detailed section on developed regulations for decommissioning.

This TECDOC is presented with notes and appendices for future drafters (reviewers) of national regulations explaining technical or procedures details to be considered by the regulator or the licensee in implementing the requirements. The notes that are contained under the relevant sections, articles, and appendices are supplemental and are not necessarily part of the regulations.

2. Scope

The document covers all the aspects related to regulation of decommissioning and related radioactive waste management that need to be addressed within the regulatory framework of a Member State. It is applicable to the broad range of regulatory systems that exist in Member States and it covers all types of facilities, at all stages of their life cycle, including existing ones that need to be decommissioned, considering the graded approach principle.

Accordingly, the example articles are applicable to:

  • nuclear power plants, research reactors and nuclear fuel cycle facilities;
  • facilities and equipment for surface industrial extraction associated with mining and milling;
  • facilities for processing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM);
  • medical, industrial and research facilities where radioactive materials and sources are produced, received, used and stored;
  • predisposal radioactive waste management facilities such as treatment, conditioning and storage facilities; and
  • other supporting facilities associated with the disposal facility.

The examples articles are not applicable to tailings from mining and milling activities or mines themselves which require closure. This Model Regulation address the radiological hazards resulting from the activities associated with the decommissioning of facilities primarily after permanent shutdown. Many of the articles may also be used for decommissioning after an abnormal event that has resulted in serious plant damage or facility contamination. In this case, this Model Regulation may be used as a basis for developing special decommissioning provisions, once the facility has been brought to a safe configuration. Non-radiological hazards, such as those due to potential fire sources or those resulting from the release of asbestos material, can also arise during decommissioning actions. This Model Regulation does not explicitly address these hazards, but it is important that they be given due consideration during the planning process and in a safety assessment. When implementing this Model Regulation on decommissioning, there must be an established regulatory framework for radiation protection, radioactive waste management, emergency preparedness and response, transport, security and safeguards if applicable.

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| Last update: Thursday, 05 October, 2017.