Sources of radiological and nuclear risk in Italy
Possible sources of radiological and nuclear risk in Italy are associated with the use of artificial radioactive matter. The most significant uses of radioactivity in our country in connection with:
• Medical applications for therapy (radioactive sources of major intensity and long average lifespan);
• Medical applications for diagnostics (radioactive sources of low intensity and long average lifespan);
• Industrial applications (radioactive sources of medium intensity and long average lifespan);
• Scientific research (zero power nuclear plants, particle accelerators, calibration sources);
• Transport on Italian territory of radioactive materials for the listed applications;
• The docking of naval nuclear propulsion vessels in certain, specially equipped ports;
• Production of electrical energy (suspended following a decision made by the Government and Parliament);
• Radioactive waste from the previous applications.
Nuclear plants in Italy and near the border
In Italy, the four nuclear stations for the production of electrical energy have been closed and defueled. This decision was made based on a decommissioning decision taken by the governmental authority, and ratified in parliament with the approval of an Energy plan that does not involve the use of nuclear energy. The sites are currently being decommissioned, with a view to completely dismantle them and restore the land for civil uses.
With regard to the plants in Garigliano, Latina and Caorso, the transfer of the irradiated nuclear fuel abroad, to France and the United Kingdom, has already taken place. For the Trino plant, the transfer will begin by the end of 2010.
The total radioactive waste from the nuclear plants and other installations (research reactors, Laboratories, hospitals, Industries) in Italy comes to approximately 90,000 m3.
This figure also includes structural material deriving from the decommissioning of the nuclear plants as well as the irradiated fuel. The latter, once reprocessed and conditioned abroad (in France and the United Kingdom), will be returned to Italy for its storage in the National Repository.
Currently, awaiting the construction of the National Repository, the location of the radioactive waste is varied:
• Waste from hospitals, industry and research is found in certain specially equipped and authorised sites.
• Waste originating from the nuclear fuel cycle is generally stored in controlled conditions in the laboratories or research centres where it was produced.
• Waste from nuclear plants has been sent for reprocessing or is pending that process.
Of the total volume indicated, high-level activity and long average lifespan (up to several thousand years) waste is approximately 4%.
This figure tends to grow every year (approximately 500 m3) due to the systematic production of radioactive waste by hospitals and industries.