More information


The decommissioning and dismantling (D&D) of nuclear facilities (power reactors, fuel cycle plants, research facilities) until their remediation and clearance, is a global industrial challenge of the 21st century. The strategy implemented is specific to each country and depends on the reactor’s characteristics, regulatory and environmental protection policies, and radioactive waste management amongst other considerations.

In 2015, 156 reactor power plants (RPP) worldwide were stopped or under D&D operations. By 2050, more than the half of today’s 400 GW nuclear capacity around the world is scheduled to be shut down for dismantling. In Europe, this will result in the increase of radioactive waste, while the current storage sites have limited capacity.

Nuclear materials: a diverse family

In order to manage all of the radioactive waste, it is essential to act on the upstream stage of dismantlement. Nuclear materials represent a complex issue considering the wide variety of matrices and contaminants, and proper radiological and chemical characterisation of plant areas is becoming a prime technical focus.

It is also a necessary precondition for success, as it will allow the proper definition of viable dismantling scenarios and the classification and segregation of the different contaminated materials. This characterisation data are also an important part of the decommissioning cost estimation process.

Characterisation: the key challenge

The challenge for D&D operations is the optimisation of the use of remote laboratory analysis and in-situ characterisation technologies. This will ensure more a complete and cost-effective characterisation of a facility that is subject to decommissioning. Another challenge is the improvement of the characterisation data’s reliability and quality. Refinement of statistical and calculation methods for modelling, including validation of onsite measurements, is important to develop a clear methodology that allows to define accurate cartography and sampling characterisation plan that achieve the desired confidence levels and address contaminant heterogeneity in the survey unit.

This characterisation is a key issue to control the production of radioactive waste packages and to distribute them as accurately as reasonably possible to  different disposal sites. It is important both for the facility producing the waste and for the agency responsible for their management. The rigour of the approach guarantees reliable and representative results. Associated uncertainty quantification contributes to technical and economic cost / benefit approaches of the remediation project.

INSIDER will tackle these challenges by defining the best strategy for optimising radioactive waste production during the dismantling of nuclear facilities under constrained environments, and focus on characterisation strategy and methodology improvements. The project expects to refine the EU policy and put forward new and improved solutions for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, power plants or post accidental land remediation.