* Adapted for educational purposes by Willi Nolan First draft 29 October 2012


Summary Information

Table of Contents

º A Personal Note 

1. What is Nuclear Decommissioning? 

2. Contemporary Legal Requirements

* Public and Environmental Health Protection Requirements - Summary

* Some fundamental expectations for decommissioning which must be met as far as is humanly possible

* Requirements for Containment from the Biosphere 

* Biosphere Monitoring and Protection

* Decommissioning Strategies - General

3. Requirements for Containment from the Biosphere 

4. Decommissioning Strategies - General 

5. References 

º A Personal Note from Willi Nolan, Environmental Health and Human Rights Advocate


After 38 years as an anti-nuclear activist, the people world have been given a chance to put an end to the failed science of nuclear technology. Not once in a million years, but tens of meltdowns, countless partial meltdowns, near meltdowns, uncontrolled releases, contaminated waters, foods and human bodies later, the human race has all the evidence it needs for global shutdown.

Employing nuclear technology means dealing with nuclear accidents. People, I beg you, take whatever action you can.. educate yourself and others, make phone calls, write letters, share info, help the activists... pray.  

Since March 2011, I allow my sadness about the continuing disaster from Fukushima to give strength to my conviction that the present generation of adults, while we have strength, must begin the decommissioning of all nuclear power facilities and the safe containment of all ionizing radiation caused by human activities.

Please, speak out, write letters, share the information... industry media seems to be holding mainstream media hostage. The only way that the world will know these important truths is if we share them. The only way that the nuclear age will end is if we work together to stop it in its tracks.

Nuclear Free Next Generation!

All My Relations

Willi Nolan

JOIN US!! Next steps - Invitation to Join Providing Public and Media Education Gathering allies and support.  

Contact: La Famille-Yvan Bombardier - Willi Nolan  

1. What is Nuclear Decommissioning?

Nuclear decommissioning is a collection of actions taken to permanently end a nuclear facility's operational life with adequate regard for the health and safety of workers and the public and the protection of the biosphere.

The ultimate aim of decommissioning is to decontaminate a site, on a case-by-case basis, that has been polluted with radioactive chemicals and make it free of unnatural radiation and thereby safe for other purposes.   

The decommissioning process must ensure, as far as humanly possible, that radioactive material and radioactive waste is adequately controlled and contained in ways that prevent leaks or escapes to the biosphere, and that any unauthorized leak or escape can always be detected and reported.

Not a single step process, decommissioning includes actions taken to systematically and progressively reduce the level of hazard on a site and may involve stages spread over a number of years. For example, it may include physically dismantling a nuclear facility systematically.

Many nuclear power facilities are reaching the end of their projected lifetimes; the earliest reactors were built to last 30 to 40 years. The refurbishment of aging reactors is a tricky proposition and plant operators and regulators are responding to increasing costs, technical problems and liabilities with decisions to shut down operations as the oldest nuclear power stations reach the end of their production life while other nuclear facilities become redundant.

The decommissioning process and the management of radioactive materials and radioactive waste are intricately linked activities that require an integrated approach, independent oversight and a fully transparent, public process. Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began in Japan in 2011, federal, state and provincial legislatures are increasingly demanding that regulators deepen their scrutiny of nuclear plants and processes which may raise public economic, safety and security risks, such as operators and analysts providing inadequate publicly available documentation to justify continuing operations or insufficient provision for eventual decommissioning of radioactively toxic sites.

De-licensing requires nuclear regulators to express an opinion that there has ceased to be any danger from ionizing radiation from anything on the site and implies that there should be no further need for regulatory control of the site. I observe that some de-licensed sites in Canada have remained virtually unmonitored for prolonged periods of time, decades in some cases, and continue to release radio-toxins to the biosphere and therefore, through ecosystems and ultimately, human and animal life through the food chain.

2. Contemporary Legal Requirements

Excerpts from U.S. Regulations

(Recommended: Get the equivalent Canadian & international legislation that are applicable – cnsc & env cda, health, occupational, landowner, aboriginal, environmental etc.) Pro-Earth Legislation i.e. Ecuador & Bolivia laws to protect Mother Earth, International Criminal courts - proposed Law of Ecocide (Polly Higgins).  

2.1 The main legislation concerning the safety of nuclear installations is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA74), the associated relevant statutory provisions of the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (as amended) (NIA65) and the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99). Environmental protection is afforded through the regulation of the management of radioactive materials and radioactive waste, for which the principal legislation includes NIA65, the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (as amended by the Environment Act 1995) (RSA93) and the Nuclear Reactors (Environmental Impact Assessment for Decommissioning) Regulations 1999 (EIADR99). Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999

2.5 Requirements for the radiological protection of workers and the public are contained in IRR99 which is enforced on nuclear licensed sites and on certain Ministry of Defence sites. Radioactive Substances Act 1993 regulate the keeping and use of radioactive material, to prevent loss to the environment and to control accumulation and disposal of radioactive waste to minimise the impact on the environment.

Public and Environmental Health Protection Requirements - Summary

- protection of the food chain from radioactive wastes, emissions and discharges

- protection of the health and safety of military and civilian employees and the public, including future generations

- regulatory strategy to ensure safety in the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.

Some fundamental expectations for decommissioning which must be met as far as is humanly possible

i) As a rule, decommissioning should be carried out as soon as it is reasonably possible and practical, taking all relevant factors into account.

ii) The reduction of hazards associated with the plant or site should be done according to a publicly approved, systematic and progressive process.

iii) Full use should be made of existing routes for the secure containment of radioactive waste from the biosphere.

iv) Radioactive materials and radioactive waste from sites being decommissioned must be placed into passive, safe state for interim storage pending future disposal or other long term solution.

v) Where regulations do not require operators to provide adequate funds to be set aside to meet the true costs of decommissioning, operators and governments must share cost overruns equally.

Requirements for Containment from the Biosphere   

Radioactive containment design must be met under full consideration of the fact that used nuclear fuel will be inherently radioactive indefinitely and chemically toxic forever.

Decommissioning, decontamination and containment of nuclear operations requires site specific planning and design, taking full account of all potentialities affecting the site, including threats to the safety and security of public, worker and military personnel and occurrences natural hazards.

Containment of radioactive reactor components must be sufficient to protect the biosphere from threats to the safety and security of public, worker and military personnel and occurrences of natural hazards.

We compare existing nuclear power station containment design with new designs from Areva corporation i.e. Areva EPR-100, which contains 6m. Concrete base, 2.6 m walls. We question, is this sufficient? – How does concrete compare with other shielding available, such as those found in natural rock formations, those developed for the protection of medical and military personnel.? (e.g. Malawi rock formations over 'newly developed' uranium mines, granite, lead, tungsten, etc. ... )

Biosphere Monitoring and Protection

Provision of resources to fund excellence in decommissioning - best available scientific and engineering knowledge with on-going independent oversight and research

Address specific concerns, including:

  • seepage from malfunctions in waste and reactor containment
  • eliminate migration of radio-toxins at existing waste containment and treatment operations, with particular attention to historically known failure due to poor design and construction.
  • mapping and identification of non-visible equipment and structures at nuclear facilities i.e., internal and external and underground pipes, intake and outflow pipes/cooling system components
  • the transport of radioactive materials from nuclear facilities to long and short term waste storage and treatment facilities
  • monitoring of ecosystems, including migration of radio-toxins through elements and species in the food chain

Decommissioning Strategies - General

It is a fact that different strategies (i.e. direct or deferred dismantling) have an influence on the total cost of decommissioning radioactively contaminated sites.

It is important to consider and clearly understand that “the longer the service operation period is, the less possible it is for staff with site-specific experience to participate in the decommissioning work due to retirement. The longer service operation period also creates a greater need for contractors.” (re: Quote from ? - get the URL or - is the reference below sufficient?)

From the References - Information about Existing Decommissioning Activities

Considerations for establishing decommissioning public decommissioning oversight

[adapted from:1. Swedish BWR reference plant decommissioning study Was commissioned by Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB - site-specific facilities/buildings or conditions were excluded in this study.]  

Premises of the study: Direct dismantling, with no or only a very short service operational period.

  • Establish which items will be paid for by federal/provincial/municipal funding:
  • Available off-site waste storage facilities of sufficient capacity are available as required.
  • Removal of the structures at to a depth of one metre below grade and the use of clean construction debris such as processed concrete for fill.
  • Contingencies should be calculated and reported separately.
  • Removal of control rods and main circulation pump wheels – must be regarded as operational / radioactive waste. ('High Level Waste')
  • Decontamination of main systems during service operation, including treating the resulting waste is not included.
  • Regulatory compliance costs, such as emergency response fees, regulatory agency fees, [corinsurance? ]
  • Cost for insurance
  • Management of non-radioactive contaminants at the site
  • Contaminated soil (and equipment?) at the site... Such as Outside transformers
  • Method for free release of contaminated materials, such as Melting
  • Planning, engineering etc, for decommissioning of the site commences one year before the planned shutdown date - dismantling preparations during Service Operation.
  • Project Management
  • Costs for Service Operation
  • Defined starting point for the decommissioning project e.g. 2 years before dismantling.
  • Political decision making
  • (SEE THE SECTION BOUNDARY CONDITIONS) A detailed characterization of the site and the surrounding environs. This includes radiation surveys of work areas, major components (including the reactor vessel and its internals), sampling of internal piping contamination levels, and of the citadel structure. This is part of the total decommissioning costs.


1. Decommissioning Nuclear Facilities, World Nuclear Association, (updated June 2011).

2. Comparative analysis of the Oskarshamn 3 and Barsebäck site decommissioning studies. Bertil Hansson, Bewon Lars-Olof Jönsson, Barsebäck Kraft AB January 2009. ISSN 1402-3091. SKB Rapport R-09-55. Commissioned by Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB, Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. Box 250, SE-101 24 Stockholm SWEDEN. Phone +46 8 459 84 00. http://www.skb.se

~~~~~~~ document created and adapted from publicly available information ~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~ for educational purposes by Willi Nolan 29 October 2012 ~~~~~~~