The primary responsibility for radioactive waste management lies with the producer (generator) or owner of the plant that generated the waste. The producer must ensure that the generation of radioactive waste is minimised as much as possible as well as provide necessary financial resources and comply with other prerequisites within the producer’s competence (e.g. organise on-site waste management). Waste management activities require a permit issued by the competent national body (Ministry of the Interior). However, not all prerequisites for waste management fall within the competence of the producer; there may also be cases where the producer cannot bear the financial responsibility. By general consensus, the ultimate responsibility for radioactive waste management therefore rests with the state.
The EU Directive 2011/70/EURATOM establishes a framework for the responsible and safe management of radioactive waste (RW) and spent nuclear fuel (SNF). The Directive requires member states to establish competent and efficient national RW and SNF management systems, including national legislation and regulatory and organisational frameworks. Pursuant to the Directive, the Republic of Croatia is responsible for its share of RW and SNF and is therefore required to adopt a detailed national programme for the management of these types of waste. In October 2014, pursuant to the Radiological and Nuclear Safety Act, the Croatian Parliament adopted the Radioactive Waste, Disused Sources and Spent Nuclear Fuel Management Strategy , which was the basis for the development of the National Strategy Implementation Programme for the period until 2025 with a view until 2060.
By signing the Bilateral Agreement and ratifying all international conventions, directives, etc., the Republic of Croatia, together with the Republic of Slovenia, undertook to decommission the Krško NPP and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste generated by the operation and decommissioning of the NPP. Under the Agreement, Slovenia and Croatia mutually agreed to provide an effective joint solution for RW and SNF disposal, with equal funding from both sides. In the event that no agreement on a joint solution for RW and SNF disposal is reached by the end of the plant’s normal lifespan, the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia shall complete the takeover of Krško NPP RW and SNF, in equal parts, no later than two years after that deadline and independently bear the costs of any disposal activities that are not of common interest.
The 13th Session of the Intergovernmental Commission for Monitoring the Implementation of the Bilateral Agreement concluded that a joint solution would not be practicable. Consequently, Slovenia and Croatia shall, respectively, takeover and remove one half of the low and intermediate level radioactive waste (LILW) from the Krško NPP site by 2025, as also foreseen by the Third Revision of the Krško NPP RW and SNF Disposal Programme.
The Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Slovenia have settled on long-term dry storage of SNF at the Krško NPP site and its subsequent disposal in a deep geological repository. To address this issue, certain initiatives have explored the prospect of a common, multinational solution. What we do know is that the disposal of this waste in either the Republic of Croatia or the Republic of Slovenia is unlikely.
In addition to waste from the Krško NPP, the Republic of Croatia is required to manage and dispose institutional radioactive waste and disused sources generated in the medicine, industry, science, military and public use.
The Strategy and the National Programme have envisioned the development of RW and SNF disposal solutions. Under the National Programme, Čerkezovac is the preferred site for the new Radioactive Waste Management Centre. The Centre will comprise a central storage facility for institutional radioactive waste and disused sources as well as a long-term storage facility for one half of the operational low and intermediate level radioactive waste from the Krško NPP.