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Italy: Nuclear Security Legislation Now in Force

(Nov. 7, 2017) On October 10, 2017, legislation implementing a 2014 amendment to the European Union accord on nuclear security entered into effect in Italy. (Legislative Decree No. 137 of September 15, 2017, Implementation of Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom of 8 July 2014 Amending Directive 2009/71/Euratom Establishing a Community Framework for the Nuclear Safety of Nuclear Installations (L.D. No. 137), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (Sept. 19, 2017), NORMATTIVA (in Italian); Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom of 8 July 2014 Amending Directive 2009/71/Euratom Establishing a Community Framework for the Nuclear Safety of Nuclear Installations, EUR-LEX.)  That amendment, which followed the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, reinforced a number of provisions pertaining to preventing nuclear accidents.

Some highlights of the Italian legislation implementing Council Directive 2014/87/Euratom of 2014 are as follows.

Authorization for Nuclear Plants and Operational Requirements

  • The Ministry of Economic Development must ensure the effective participation of the public in decision-making processes concerning the issuance of authorizations for the operation of nuclear plants. (L.D. No. 137, art. 1(10)(a).)
  • Applicants for permits to handle regulated nuclear products must submit additional documentation with detailed information on the nuclear safety and health protection features of the products intended for use in nuclear plants. (Id. art. 1(4)(b).)
  • Nuclear plants must be planned, located, built, put into operation, used, and deactivated with the goal of preventing incidents; if incidents take place, they must be handled in a way that allows for prompt and adequate mitigation of the consequences (radioactive releases) through the implementation of emergency measures. (Id. art. 1(5).)
  • Holders of authorizations for the operation of nuclear plants must reevaluate, periodically and systematically, at least every ten years, the safety of their nuclear plants. (Id. art. 1(5).)
  • The scope of emergency measures to be adopted by operators of nuclear plants to prevent and protect workers against harmful radioactive effects is broadened. (Id. art. 1(7).)

Deactivation plans of nuclear plants must be updated every five years and every time the particular circumstances demand amendments to operational procedures. (Id. art. 1(9)(a).)

New Definition of Nuclear Incident

The definition of “incident,” which before the adoption of the amending Decree was “an unforeseen event that causes damage to an installation and disturbs its normal functioning and may involve, for one or more persons, exposure to doses of radiation higher than those established as acceptable in the relevant legislation,” has been changed to refer to “any non-intentional event whose actual or potential consequences are meaningful from the perspective of protection against radioactivity or nuclear safety, or that may lead to exposure to doses of radiation higher than those established as acceptable in the relevant legislation.” (Id. art. 1(a).)

Violation of the Decree, Liability, and Punishment

  • Government units around the country with jurisdiction on nuclear matters must give notice to ISIN (International Securities Identification Number)-Italy about violations of L.D. No. 137 in their respective territories. (Id. art. 1(3).)
  • The liability of contractors and subcontractors whose activities could affect the nuclear safety of a nuclear plant is legally established. (Id. art. 1(13)(a).)
  • Anyone who prevents or disturbs the execution of an inspection of a nuclear plant as established according to the legislation or who does not produce the documentation required by inspectors is also legally liable. (Id. art. 1(17).)
  • Punishments are extended to those who, without the respective permit, put into operation a nuclear plant, continue operations connected to the deactivation of a nuclear plant, or proceed with such operations after the expiration or revocation of the respective deactivation permit. (Id. art. 1(18)(a).)
  • Permit holders who violate orders given by the authorities to stop or suspend the operation of their nuclear plants are also subject to punishment. (Id. art. 1(18)(e).)