All Sogin activities are subject to systematic checks by the relevant institutions and bodies, such as MASE (Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security), ISIN (National Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection), and Regions and Municipalities.
The main authorisation needed to dismantle a nuclear facility is the Decommissioning Decree issued by the current Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security after consultation with the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the Ministry of Health, the Region and the ISIN. As set forth in Article 98 ‘Authorisation for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities (Italian Legislative Decree no. 230 of 17 March 1995, Article 55)’ and Article 99 ‘Procedure for the issuance of an authorisation for decommissioning - Conduct of operations (Italian Legislative Decree no. 230 of 17 March 1995, Article 56)’ of Italian Legislative Decree no. 101/2020, this process begins when Sogin submits its application for decommissioning.
Italian Decree Law no. 1/2012 amended by Italian Law no. 27/2012 pursuant to Article 24 ‘Acceleration of the decommissioning and dismantling operations of nuclear power plants’, paragraph 4, states that, without prejudice to the specific procedures envisaged for the implementation of the National Repository and Technology Park (NRTP) as recalled under paragraph 3, the authorisation issued under Article 55 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 230 of 17 March 1995 for decommissioning activities and the authorisations provided under Article 6 of Italian Law no. 1860 of 31 December 1962 and under Article 148, paragraph 1-bis, of Italian Legislative Decree no. 230 of 17 March 1995, issued as of the date of enforcement of the above-mentioned Decree, must be regarded as undeferrable and urgent statements of public utility, and as such constitute alternatives to urban planning tools and replace any administrative procedures, authorisations, concessions, licenses, and any administrative act or approval, however defined, as provided under the existing regulations, thus permitting the implementation of the works. To obtain an authorisation for work implementation or the dismantling of works involving changes to the existing plants, a reasoned opinion must be requested to the municipality or region where the works defined under this paragraph are located; these administrations must provide their opinion within 60 days from the request issued by the Ministry of Economic Development, without prejudice to the execution of the environmental impact assessment, if applicable.
Pending the release of said decree, individual projects required to proceed with dismantling activities and implement temporary structures and works can be authorised, provided that these are necessary to proceed with the decommissioning plan.
With the introduction of Italian Legislative Decree no. 101/2020, authorisations of individual projects can be obtained through the implementation of Article 233, paragraph 1 ‘Transitional measures for ongoing authorisation procedures (Article 148 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 230 of 17 March 1995)’ of Italian Legislative Decree no. 101 of 2020 for specific operations and interventions whenever deemed relevant for decommissioning activities and intended to ensure the most effective radiation protection for workers and populations.
After obtaining the decrees as per Article 233 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 101/2020, Sogin must submit to the ISIN for approval any specific operational plans or detailed project reports providing a description of the work to be done and any relevant assessment in terms of safety and radiation protection.
Italian Legislative Decree no. 101/2020, published in the Official Journal of 31 July 2020, converts Resolution no. 2013/59/EURATOM and reorders and updates the previous Italian regulations on radiation protection in a single text; the previous regulations include Italian Legislative Decree no. 230/95, which was the legal reference in force when Sogin submitted its requests for decommissioning of power plants and structures under decommissioning.
Recognition of costs incurred
Sogin operates under decrees issued by the former Ministry for Productive Activities (now the Ministry for Ecological Transition) pursuant to Art. 13, para. 4 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 79/1999 transposing Directive no. 96/92/CE regarding regulations on the domestic electricity market. Sogin also complies with the regulations issued by the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment (ARERA).
All Sogin activities are financed in accordance with the provisions of Article 1, paragraphs 20-23 of Italian Law no. 197 of 29 December 2022 (Budget Law 2023) through the Italian general taxation.
On 30 June 2020, Sogin submitted the documents regarding the Full Dismantling Plan for nuclear power plants and infrastructure accompanied by a methodological note for measuring the physical progress of decommissioning activities. This documentation contains a proposal for the measurement of the physical progress of all relevant activities regarding the nuclear contract (including implementation, engineering, licensing and contracting activities) and constitutes an important step forward in monitoring the effectiveness of the contract itself.
With Resolution no. 417/2020/R/eel (27 October 2020), the Authority launched a procedure to draft the provisions for the recognition of nuclear liabilities, amending and integrating the 2013 – 2016 Economic Efficiency Criteria for the regulatory period after 2020 (third regulatory period). Resolution no. 417/2020/R/eel also envisaged the definition of an appropriate duration of the third regulatory period, which provides Sogin with the possibility to review the plans only after a suitable number of years. The third regulatory period for decommissioning activities has a duration of 6 years starting from 1 January 2021 and up to 31 December 2026, and is divided into two three-year regulatory periods.
In the same Resolution, the Authority also set out a review of the accounting separation criteria. See Resolution ARG/elt 103/08, Annex B.
With Resolution no. 93/2021/R/eel (9 March 2021), the Authority defined the ‘Criteria for the recognition of costs incurred for decommissioning activities’ for the third regulatory period and the activities falling within the scope of nuclear liabilities, while excluding works regarding the NRTP. In the new (third) regulatory system, the Authority adopted a strong forward-looking approach to decommissioning activities for the third regulatory period, with Sogin thus deeply committed to complying with the progress and cost forecasts. With Resolution no. 348/2021/R/eel of 3 August 2021, the ARERA approved the Criteria for the recognition of costs incurred for the decommissioning activities of nuclear power plants, with the exception of activities regarding the National Repository and Technology Park for the 2021-2026 period, while also providing final approval for the Consolidated Text on Nuclear Decommissioning (TIDECN) and defining the quantitative criteria for the application of the TIDECN in the first three-year regulatory period (2021-2023). In the same resolution, the Authority also approved the budget for the items related to nuclear liabilities for decommissioning activities during the first three-year regulatory period (2021-2023).
The new regulatory system is based on a mechanism recognising the final costs incurred for the nuclear contract according to which Sogin operates every year.
The ARERA recognises the final costs incurred according to effectiveness and efficiency criteria, provided that they fall within the scope of nuclear liabilities as defined in the Italian Inter-Ministerial Decree of 26 January 2000 (as amended by the Italian Inter-Ministerial Decree of 3 April 2006).
The current system divides the costs of the nuclear contract into different categories and applies different recognition methods.
The ARERA then determines the amount of nuclear liabilities to be charged to general taxation for the coverage of Sogin financial needs.