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Analysis of the regulatory framework for the deployment of nuclear energy completed

An analysis commissioned by the Estonian Ministry of the Environment and carried out in cooperation with law firm TRINITI, business consultancy CIVITTA, international energy and infrastructure law firm Castletown Law and one of the leading Finnish law firms Waselius & Wist, provides an overview of the nuclear and radiation safety regulations currently in force in Estonia, the relevant international law and the legal framework required for the deployment of nuclear energy.

The use of nuclear technology has a cross-border impact, which means that the whole process, from the extraction of nuclear fuel feedstock to the disposal of radioactive waste, is subject to international regulation and supervision.

The report draws attention to the fact that there are a number of important regulations, including nuclear liability issues, stemming from both international law and EU legislation, which are not yet reflected in existing Estonian legislation. The analysis, coordinated by TRINITI, estimates that the preparation of the whole package of nuclear legislation would probably take up to three years, plus the legislative procedure in the parliament. It can be estimated that the total cost of preparing the whole regulatory package, including draft legislation, explanatory memoranda, impact assessments, public consultations and external expert assessments, could be in the order of a million euro.

Tõnis Tamme, partner at TRINITI in charge of the advisory project, noted that there are clear gaps in Estonia’s current nuclear and radiation safety legislation that need to be addressed. “In addition to the creation of a new law on nuclear energy and safety, amendments are needed to the Radiation Act as well as to many other acts of Estonian legislation.”

Sten Veidebaum, TRIINITI’s leading legal expert and attorney-at-law, added that before starting the legislative process, it is necessary to consider the actual functioning of the nuclear fuel cycle, its organisation, supervision and all related functions (planning process, emergency response, transport and storage of nuclear material, etc.) as foreseen by international agreements and Euratom rules.

According to Simon Stuttaford, partner at Castletown Law, the analysis and work carried out so far has shown that Estonia needs to incorporate the key areas of nuclear law – nuclear construction requirements, safety, security and safeguards, licensing and regulatory regime, waste management and civil liability – into its legal system. As nuclear technology is not used in Estonia, there has been no need to regulate these aspects at national level so far.

The team preparing the analysis was led by TRINITI partner and attorney-at-law Tõnis Tamme, with contributions from the TRINITI Infrastructure & Transport working group, attorneys-at-law Sten Veidebaum and Ain Kalme, and lawyer Madlenne Timofejev .

The mapping of the regulatory and legal framework for the start-up of the nuclear programme by the Nuclear Energy Working Group set up by the Government of the Republic has been published in the Nuclear Energy Working Group’s website: