Finland is preparing to undertake a general reform of its Nuclear Energy Law.
In order to prepare the ground for this reform, on October 18 the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment appointed a working group chaired by Liisa Heikinheimo, Head of the Fuels and Nuclear Energy Unit. She will be in charge of the works for a term from 21 October 2019 to 18 June 2020.
According to the Finnish Government, 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.
Key issues to be addressed by the working group
- 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.
- 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.