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TRINITI hands over draft Nuclear Energy and Safety Act to the Ministry of Climate

Law Firm TRINITI has handed over to the Estonian Ministry of Climate the drafts of the Nuclear Energy and Safety Act, its legislative intent and the explanatory memorandum. The drafting was part of a larger consultancy project that started about a year ago and included the mapping and analysis of the legal framework for the potential launch of the nuclear programme in Estonia.

In addition to the members of the TRINITI Pan-Baltic Energy & Infrastructure Practice Group (Sten Veidebaum, Tõnis Tamme, Ain Kalme and Madlenne Timofejev), specialists in nuclear law from the international energy law firm Castletown Law in the UK; CIVITTA, a leading business consultancy in Central and Eastern Europe, and from the Finnish law firm Waselius & Wist also participated in this project, which is crucial for the future of energy security in Estonia.

The use of nuclear technology has a cross-border impact, which means that the whole process, from the extraction of nuclear fuel source material to the disposal of radioactive waste, is subject to strict international regulation and supervision. The comparative analysis of the regulatory framework, completed in June, provided an overview of the current nuclear and radiation safety regulations in Estonia, the relevant international law and the legal provisions necessary for the deployment of nuclear energy, and was acknowledged for its expertise and thoroughness by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Reelika Runneli, advisor at the Ministry of Climate, said: “The preparation of the draft law and the mapping of the nuclear regulatory framework were of key importance in the preparation of both the IAEA expert mission and the final comprehensive report of the governmental Nuclear Energy Working Group. An understanding of the content, structure and international obligations of the legislation governing the use of nuclear energy must be in place before the principal decision is taken. On this basis, we will be able to assess the scope of the work required for the deployment of nuclear energy and, in the event of a positive decision by the Government of the Republic and the Estonian parliament, to move forward more quickly with the preparatory activities.”

Tõnis Tamme, partner at TRINITI, who led the advisory team, admitted that there are clear gaps in the current nuclear and radiation safety legislation in Estonia, which need to be filled by a new law to ensure that Estonia is also legally prepared for the introduction of nuclear energy and to comply with its international obligations. In addition to the enactment of the new law on nuclear energy and safety, a number of amendments to the existing Radiation Act, as well as to a number of other Estonian laws, and the adoption of a significant amount of lower level legislation will be needed”.

Sten Veidebaum, TRINITI’s leading legal expert, stressed that Estonia’s national nuclear legislation must first and foremost address the question of how the requirements of international law sources are fulfilled in Estonia. This requires the involvement of all relevant sectors and agencies in the further legislative process, the harmonisation of knowledge and terminology, and the ability to think further into the future. “At the national level, a reasonable and viable nuclear policy for Estonia needs to be formulated, on which the future legal framework and the future national organisation of the nuclear fuel cycle will be based”, Veidebaum added.

“We were delighted to work with our Estonian colleagues at TRINITI on this important project and to help Estonia develop its nuclear regulatory framework”, said Simon Stuttaford of Castletown Law. He added: “Our contribution drew on the experts’ previous international experience in advising on UK (EDF, Horizon Nuclear Power and NuGen) and international nuclear projects (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and Malaysia).”

Andrew Renton, Founder and Principal at Castletown Law stated: “When we approached TRINITI to work with us on this project we recognised it would provide an excellent opportunity to shape Estonia`s regulatory framework and nuclear law for advanced nuclear technologies. Castletown Law was able to make use of the significant amount of work it has done in its publications over the last few years around the regulatory challenges for advanced nuclear technologies.“

The mapping of the regulatory and legal framework for the start-up of a nuclear programme, as well as a number of other studies and materials in this field, by the Nuclear Energy Task Force established by the Government of the Republic, are published on the Nuclear Energy Task Force website: