A working group to prepare an overall reform of the Nuclear Energy Act
On 18 October 2019, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment appointment a working group to prepare an overall reform of the Nuclear Energy Act. The working group, chaired by Liisa Heikinheimo, Head of the Fuels and Nuclear Energy Unit, was appointed for a term from 21 October 2019 to 18 June 2020.
The objective of the reform is to bring the regulation regarding the use of nuclear energy in nuclear facilities up to date, to achieve regulatory clarity and consistency, and to ensure regulations meet the new requirements of the Constitution of Finland and EU legislation, as well as any foreseeable needs.
The previous comprehensive reform of the nuclear energy legislation came into force in 1988. Since then, some 30 amendments have been made to the Nuclear Energy Act. During the validity of the Act, a reform of the Constitution has also taken place, and extensive reforms have been made to other legal rules, such as the overall reform of radiation legislation in 2018.
The working group’s task is to identify ways of developing regulation on the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities in a way that best serves the overall interests of society.
It is particularly important to ensure that the use of nuclear energy is safe for humans and the environment. Other aspects to be taken into account include constitutional requirements, changes in legal rules, practices and technologies at the national, international and EU level, and the effective national implementation of EU directives.
It is the working group’s task to outline the current state and development outlook of nuclear energy production, the need to modify the requirements for the design, construction, use and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and supervision of compliance with such requirements. Furthermore, the need to develop the nuclear facility licensing system should be looked into. Other matters to be assessed include the need to develop regulation on the fuel cycle at nuclear facilities and particularly the final disposal of spent fuel.
The working group is to address the following key issues:
- The definition of a nuclear facility, and a graded approach of the requirements and procedures applicable to them;
- The applicability of the licence system (decision in principle, construction licence, operating licence, decommissioning licence) to different types of nuclear facility projects (including modular nuclear facilities), and the possibility of introducing new types of licences (e.g. early site licence);
- The interrelatedness of various licences required under the Nuclear Energy Act at different stages of a nuclear facility project, and the related modification and renewal procedures (incl. environmental impact assessment);
- An analysis of the regulation on spent fuel and other nuclear waste from the final disposal perspective; and
- To improve consistency, a revision of the definitions for materials containing natural uranium, nuclear fuel, nuclear waste and radioactive waste.
The working group is chaired by Liisa Heikinheimo, and the Project Manager is Anja Liukko, both from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Members of the working group represent the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of the Environment, Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland; and the LUT University. Permanent expert members of the group represent companies that are engaged in the production of nuclear energy and have a legal obligation to manage nuclear waste. The secretaries of the working group are Outi Slant, Senior Specialist from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and Minna Välimäki, legal counsel from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland.
Liisa Heikinheimo, Head of the Fuels and Nuclear Energy Unit, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7035
Anja Liukko, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 506 2078
Outi Slant, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, puh. +358 29 504 8264