DS551 - Decommissioning of Uranium Production Facilities

Status: STEP 5

Neues Dokument

Beteiligte IAEO-Komitees: WASSC, RASSC, EPReSC, NUSSC

Specific Safety Guide

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Background Information

GSR Part 6, Decommissioning of Facilities, provides requirements for the effective development and implementation of a decommissioning programme. The requirements apply to nuclear power plants, research reactors, other nuclear fuel cycle facilities, including predisposal waste management facilities, facilities for processing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), former military sites, and relevant medical facilities, industrial facilities, and research and development facilities.

Two Safety Guides are published to support GSR Part 6: 1) SSG-47 Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Plants, Research Reactors and Other Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities; and 2) SSG-49, Decommissioning of Medical, Industrial and Research Facilities.

Uranium production is outside the scope of SSG-49. The SSG-47, according to para. 1.14, “…address… decommissioning of the surface processing facilities for mining and processing of uranium and thorium ores and other facilities used for industrial activities involving naturally occurring radioactive material”. So, uranium production is covered by SSG-47 only partly. Uranium mines and thorium mines and facilities for disposal of radioactive waste are outside the scope of SSG-47, as they are subject to closure and not to decommissioning.

At present, there are no comprehensive and specific recommendations on decommissioning of uranium production facilities. A uranium production facility is unique in terms of its geographic boundary, volume of residues and areas that requires consideration, and general need of long term management of residues and waste on the site. In addition, there are different methods used for uranium production, such as conventional methods (underground and open pit) or in-situ recovery (sometimes termed “in-situ leaching”) methods as well as recovery of uranium as a secondary mineral or by-product or from another source. Decommissioning of uranium production facilities demands special considerations for each of the methods and also proper closure of disposal facilities for waste. There is an evident gap in IAEA safety standards for decommissioning of uranium production facilities. The IAEA Technical Meeting on the Decommissioning of Uranium Production Facilities and Other Facilities Containing Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, held in November 2019, recommended “the IAEA should develop a safety document on the decommissioning of uranium production facilities as it is an evident gap in existing IAEA safety standards and Member States have needs”. It will help Member States with planning, implementation, and regulatory oversight of decommissioning of uranium production facilities of different methods. Need of an IAEA Safety Guide on decommissioning of uranium production facilities has been also identified by WASSC among priority issues for its ninth term (2021−2023). The 52nd WASSC meeting held in October 2021 requested the Secretariat to develop a DPP for a new Safety Guide on Decommissioning of Uranium Production Facilities.

The objective of the proposed publication is to provide recommendations for regulatory bodies, operating organizations, technical support organizations, and other interested parties on planning for decommissioning of uranium production facilities throughout their lifetime; from siting, design, and construction of facilities, through to implementation and completion of their decommissioning and terminating the authorization, as well as post-decommissioning control where a restricted release situation may be relevant. It aims at ensuring that decommissioning of facilities is conducted in a safe, economical, and environmentally acceptable manner, in accordance with best international practices.

The proposed publication will:

  • provide recommendations on meeting the safety requirements applicable to decommissioning of uranium production facilities, primarily those provided in GSR Part 6 and GSR Part 3;
  • address decommissioning considerations and actions for the safe decommissioning of uranium production facilities, including conventional uranium production facilities, heap leaching facilities, in-situ recovery facilities, and other facilities producing uranium concentrate. These recommendations will be relevant for the decommissioning of supporting infrastructure (i.e. those parts of the facility other than the disposal area itself, which is subject to closure);
  • address topics such as development of legal and regulatory frameworks, financial considerations and guarantees, planning, conduct and completion of decommissioning. For long term management of residues and waste from uranium production facilities, SSG-60, Management of Residues Containing Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material from Uranium Production and Other Activities, applies;
  • address radiological hazards resulting from decommissioning;
  • acknowledge major hazards the need to considered - such as industrial hazards or hazards due to chemical waste -, but how to address non-radiological hazards is outside the scope of this publication;

The guidance in the proposed publication will be applicable to planned uranium production facilities, operating facilities, facilities awaiting decommissioning after permanent shutdown, and to facilities that are already in the process of decommissioning.

This publication will not apply to situations where uranium production facilities are considered in the context of an existing exposure situation, where GSG-15, Remediation Strategy and Process for Areas Affected by Past Activities or Events, applies. Security aspects during decommissioning are outside the scope of this publication.