Clear responsibilities and structures for dismantling nuclear power plants


Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia are in different positions to tackle the challenges of decommissioning their nuclear power plants. The three countries committed to achieving this within the course of accession to the EU. more At the moment the countries are at different points in the process – in particular with regard to the organisation and monitoring of the dismantling processes. The most important task in the future will be to clarify responsibilities and combine them under the control of a managing organisation. Only then can the planned decommissioning projects be accomplished on schedule and within the limited budgetary framework. This is the finding of a recent project conducted by Oeko-Institut on behalf of the Budgetary Comission of the European Parliament.

Challenges of decommissioning – best practices from experience?

The trio of countries is currently decommissioning old nuclear power plants of Russian design: four of those are located in Bulgaria, two in Lithuania and another two in Slovakia. As an act of solidarity the EU has committed to assisting the decommissioning and dismantling of these nuclear power plants. Oeko-Institut’s report analyses best-practice examples of decommissioning nuclear power plants in Europe, describes challenges and derives recommendations from those successfully completed projects for the dismantling projects in the three countries.

The researchers determined that there are now 88 decommissioned reactors in Europe, of which only eight have been finalised to date. The researchers focused their consideration on  decommissioning processes in Germany, France and the UK and carried out an in-depth analysis of the EWN Greifswald projects, the EDF dismantling projects in France and NDA Sellafield. In each case mechanisms geared to organisation, project management, monitoring, costs and coordination with the respective authorities were identified.

Best practice: France and Germany

Oeko-Institut’s project report shows that the dismantling of the nine EDF nuclear power plants in France and the six EWN power plants in Greifswald, Germany, can serve as best practice examples for projects in countries such as Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia. In particular it is highly recommended for a responsible and competent organisation for dismantling the nuclear power plants to be created and for strict, continuous supervisory bodies to be established, which oversee all strategic management decisions.

Furthermore existing knowledge and experiences in the nuclear power plants should be utilized as much as possible during the dismantling phase. Since the necessary kinds of organisation and work differ substantially between plant operation and dismantling, appropriate project and risk management must be developed and implemented. Decommissioning requires a transition of the whole organisation and staff towards the new project and risk management tasks.

Eight recommendations for dismantling

Oeko-Institut’s report provides eight recommendations for improving the decommissioning projects in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia:

  1. Improving national control conditions in cooperation with the EU;
  2. Co-shared financing of dismantling projects between the EU and the country concerned;
  3. Improving responsibility of the managing organisation;
  4. Improving project and risk management;
  5. Continuation of the good practice in licensing;
  6. Improving cost estimates for dismantling projects;
  7. Improving effectiveness of the workforce by means of targeted trainings and knowledge management;
  8. Achieving clear, unambiguous and transparent responsibility attributions.

Oeko-Institut’s report “Nuclear Decommissioning: Management of Costs and Risks”

Oeko Institut‘s presentation on “Nuclear Decommissioning – Costs and Risks” before the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament, Brussels, 17.12.2013

Contact at Oeko Institut:

Gerhard Schmidt
Researcher in Nuclear Engineering & Facility Safety division
Oeko-Institut, Darmstadt office 
Phone +49-6151/8191-107

Dr. Veronika Ustohalova
Researcher in Nuclear Engineering & Facility Safety division
Oeko-Institut, Darmstadt office
Phone: +49-6151/8191-151