Rates for radioactive waste: more clarity on monitoring

More clarity has now been obtained on the monitoring of the rates charged by the national waste management company COVRA for collecting radioactive waste in the Netherlands and storing it safely. Following an online consultation process, the Authority has published a Policy Rule on the subject.

The Authority is authorised to draw up a Policy Rule

This is the first time that the Authority has made use of its power to draw up a Policy Rule. Pursuant to the General Administrative Law Act, we can set out in a Policy Rule how we interpret legal requirements when exercising our powers, in this case supervisory powers.

Monitoring how rates are set

With this Policy Rule we can perform our statutory task better and monitor more efficiently the way in which the Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste (COVRA) sets its rates. COVRA decides its own rates, but we monitor the way it does this. We have now defined this more clearly in the Policy Rule.

Companies disposing of radioactive waste bring the waste to the province of Zeeland

All kinds of companies in the Netherlands pay COVRA in Nieuwdorp (Zeeland) for the storage and management of radioactive waste. They include EPZ, the operator of the Borssele Nuclear Power Plant, as well as hospitals that have waste from nuclear medicine, such as clothing or hypodermic needles.

Legislation was unclear on three requirements for COVRA

The law states that COVRA has to set the rates for this task in a transparent, objective and non-discriminatory manner. The precise meaning of these three requirements that COVRA has to satisfy was unclear. Consequently, the Authority was unable to monitor the way in which COVRA sets its rates. That is why we have laid down the details in a Policy Rule, enabling us to provide better monitoring.

Results of online consultation process

From 28 August to 9 October 2023, everyone was able to give their opinion of a draft version of the Policy Rule. Six parties did so. The four disclosable responses can be found on internetconsultatie.nl, along with a report on all the responses. The Authority took account of the responses when drawing up the Policy Rule and altered parts of the draft version of the Policy Rule.

Details of the three requirements: transparent, objective and non-discriminatory

In the Policy Rule we explain how the Authority defines the terms transparent, objective and non-discriminatory. This ensures that COVRA knows what it has to be aware of when setting the rates. The Authority can therefore monitor effectively the rates that COVRA charges for its services. Thanks to the Policy Rule, companies that have radioactive waste processed or stored by COVRA have a clearer picture of the frameworks used to set the rates.

Policy Rule altered after responses

We looked especially at where the responses to the online consultation affect our work. Many of the responses to the draft Policy Rule were about the broader framework for financing the management of radioactive waste, in which several government bodies play a role.

Further to the responses, we looked at whether our Policy Rule fitted well with the powers of the Authority, and we altered the Policy Rule accordingly. We also clarified on the basis of the responses that the Policy Rule applies only to future rates.