Bellonas working paper
Radioactive substances pose enormous dangers to humans, animal and plant life. Nuclear disasters and other accidents, including Chernobyl, have had an extremely negative impact on the health of human beings, as well as on the environment and economies of the countries affected. Breaches of regulations on the mining, processing, manufacturing, use, storage, transport, and disposal of radioactive substances also pose a serious risk to the health and life of human beings. The risk of future nuclear accidents or legal violations makes it clear that it is extremely important to ensure radiation and nuclear safety in the Russian Federation.
Nuclear and radiation safety form an integral part of environmental safety, which involves state protection of the population, animal and plant life, a region or an entire country against the impact of man on the environment or against natural disasters. Radioactive materials must be handled and used in such a manner as to preclude any chance of harmful effects (disasters, accidents, radiation contamination, and exposure to human beings). In other words, environmental safety must be ensured when handling radioactive materials.
An array of legal, technical, economic, and other measures are used to ensure nuclear and radiation safety, i.e., to ensure that the general population, personnel working at nuclear facilities, and the environment (land, subsoil, water, air, plant and animal life, and man- made facilities and structures of all kinds) are adequately protected from the risks posed by nuclear and radioactive materials.
Accidents at nuclear reactors and other similar facilities, resulting in the release of radioactive materials into the environment, the contamination of facilities and other structures, and human exposure, are usually caused by inadequate observation or a breach of nuclear and radiation codes or legal provisions by officials or personnel.
Russian nuclear industry authorities are obliged to accept the following legislative hierarchy:
- International agreements ratified by the Russian Federation;
- The Constitution of the Russian Federation;
- Statutes and case law;
- Statutory orders (general ministerial regulations);
- Circulars and guidelines;
- General regulations by municipalities.
Environmental protection, or the right to a clean environment, has a constitutional basis within the Russian Federation. Among the economic, social, and cultural rights stipulated in Chapter 2 of the Constitution, Article 42 says that everyone has the right to a favourable environment, to have access to reliable information about its condition, and the right of citizens to receive compensation for damages to their health or property resulting from a violation of environmental law. These rights apply to citizens of the Russian Federation, stateless persons, and foreign citizens located on the territory of the Russian Federation.
By establishing that every individual has a right to a favourable environment, the state undertakes obligations to provide for this right. According to Article 58 of the Constitution, everyone is obliged to protect nature and the environment, especially natural resources. But who is this article directed at? The article is found in Chapter 2: The rights and freedoms of individuals and citizens. Nonetheless, the words everyone is obliged concern not only individual subjects (Russian citizens, foreign citizens, and stateless persons) but also officials and organisations, including state bodies and local-government institutions, civic associations, commercial and other enterprises, etc. Since the Constitution applies directly, without the need for any other enacting legislation, regulatory authorities are obliged to take these requirements into account when preparing and passing new laws, and to enforcement authorities while removing normative acts, etc.
Conventional wisdom would dictate that norms of international lawand international agreements to which Russia is a partythe provisions of Article 58 also apply to the Russian state as a whole, subjects of the federation, and administrative and territorial units.
The duty of all subjects to preserve nature and the environment, and especially natural resources, is in line with the right of those same subjects to demand that others also carry out this duty, which corresponds with the provisions of Article 42 of the Constitution that establish the right of everyone to a favourable environment.
The state has a special place in this legislative system. On the one hand, it is a subject of the Constitution and therefore has the same obligations as all other subjects as established by article 42. On the other hand, it also has the right to demand that all other subjects perform their duties in accordance with this article. Moreover, it is also the guarantor of all rights regarding the environment. According to Article 72 d of the Constitution, the Russian Federation and its subjects shall preserve the environment and maintain environmental safety.
Access to Information
The right of every individual to free access to information through any legally acceptable means is stipulated in Article 29 of the Constitution.
Article 12 of the Law of the Russian Federation No. 24-FZ of 20 February 1995 on Information and Information Protection stipulates that access to state information forms the basis for public monitoring of the state of the environment. The right of everyone to receive reliable information about the condition of the environment is one of the main principles of environmental preservation (Article 3 of the Law of the Russian Federation on Environmental Protection). In accordance with regulations regarding visits by Russian citizens to facilities using atomic energy (authorised by Decision of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1516 of 18 December 1996), citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to visit specified facilities in order to gain information about the level of radiation at the facilities and its effect on the health of the population and the environment; about maintaining nuclear and radiation safety to protect the population residing in the surrounding area; about the technical safety of the facility in question; and about how nuclear materials and radioactive substances are accounted for, including monitoring of their use and storage (Article 2).
Reliable information means full, truthful, and objective information provided by a body that has the competence to do so. The right to receive reliable information should be considered in light of Article 41 of the Constitution. This article stipulates that any official concealing facts or circumstances that create a threat to the health or life of the population shall be liable in accordance with federal law. Under the Law of the Russian Federation on Environmental Expert Review, the falsification of information, including information presented for expert review, as well as the results of an expert review, entails administrative liability (Articles 30 and 32).
According to Article 24 of the Federal Law on Information and Information Protection, a citizen has the right to appeal to a court the provision of any information that is clearly unreliable or any refusal to grant access to unclassified information. Courts may also consider claims for compensation for damages resulting from an infringement of these rights.
Environmental Expert Review and Environmental Impact Assessment
The Law of the Russian Federation on Environmental Expert Review defines environmental expert review as a process aimed at verifying the compliance of an activity with environmental requirements and the permissibility of carrying out the project under review.
The fundamental objectives of any environmental expert review are as follows: arranging and conducting relevant studies; analysing and assessing the environmental safety of the project under review; verifying the compliance of any proposed solution with environmental norms and standards; predicting the projects impact on the environment and human health; and ensuring the availability of state monitoring of the environment and public awareness of the implementation of the proposed project.
As Article 4 of the law stipulates, there are two kinds of environmental expert review: state and public. The former is arranged by the state (Chapter 3), while the latter is arranged by a civic organisation or group of citizens (Chapter 4).
The law provides that a state environmental expert review is required before taking a decision about the permissibility of any facility that poses a potential environmental risk (Article 3). The list of guidelines stipulating what is constituted as a federal-level facility is contained in article 11. Article 30 specifies the kinds and subjects of infringement of the Law on Environmental Expert Review. Administrative, criminal, material, and civil liability are defined by provisions found in the Administrative Code, the Criminal Code, the Labour Code, and the Civil Code. Moral damages caused to a citizen as a result of wrongful actions in the field of environmental expert review shall be borne by the persons causing them in accordance with the provisions stipulated by civil legislation.
A System Of Legal Measures Aimed At Ensuring Nuclear And Radiation Safety
Administrative reforms in the Russian Federation have seen some old state agencies reorganised, some new ones established, and yet others renamed. The federal laws, standards, and norms that govern issues of environmental safety, however, remain the same.
Laws and other legal instruments grant the Russian state the exclusive privilege to mine, use, and sell radioactive substances. They also stipulate that any person carrying out work with radioactive substances must be licensed. These legal instruments establish strict rules for the handling of radioactive substances and for the operation of nuclear reactors and similar installations and radiological devices in order to prevent possible harmful effects. The type and extent of legal responsibility to be borne by individuals and legal entities for violating these rules have been established.
Specifically, plants, institutions, and organisations may not:
- Carry out work with radioactive substances unless they have obtained the required authorisation (a licence or certificate of hygiene);
- Apply technologies or use equipment that does not meet requirements for nuclear and radiation safety;
- Install equipment for working with radioactive substances in residential buildings or in the proximity of child-care facilities, hospitals, etc. Areas where such equipment is installed should meet sanitary standards and regulations. Appropriate boards should be appointed to approve these areas for operation. Buffer areas and radiation-control areas should be established around radiological facilities.
Regulatory documents provide for mandatory appointment of people to be in charge of accounting for radioactive material, as well as for its storage and use; nuclear and radiation safety; radiation monitoring; and for the collection, storage, and transfer of radioactive waste. Furthermore, individuals should be appointed who will be responsible for accounting for radioactive material, as well as for its storage and transfer from one department to another. As stipulated by law, inventory committees should be established, and stock-taking (audits) should be conducted regularly to verify the availability of nuclear material, as well as consumption rates.
There are a limited number of properly trained people who are authorised to work with radioactive substances. They should be given induction training, as well as routine and extraordinary briefings, on regulations regarding the handling of radioactive materials. Those working with radioactive substances should be provided with personal protective equipment and trained in how to use it. The level of radiation in and around the radiological facility should be measured, and the exposure of personnel should also be monitored.
Stringent requirements have been established regarding the integrity of radioactive material and waste, as well as of radiological equipment. Special security arrangements should be made to safeguard areas where radioactive material and associated equipment are stored. These items should be constantly monitored. Means of communication should be installed in warehouses and other areas. Radioactive materials should be kept in special containers only in areas designed for this purpose. The containers should be marked and sealed.
There are legal instruments that contain other instructions, standards, and regulations on the stages of mining and enriching uranium and other ores, producing nuclear fuel and explosives, transporting radioactive materials, operating reactors and other radiological facilities, and eliminating the effects of radioactive contamination. Steadfast compliance with these and other regulations on nuclear and radiation safety contributes to preventing harm.
The Federal Laws on the Use of Atomic Energy and on Radiation Safety of the Population are fundamental legal instruments that comprehensively regulate social relations in the area of using nuclear energy and protecting the population from the effects of radiation.
The Federal Law on the Use of Atomic Energy establishes federal standards and rules applicable to the use of nuclear energy; the powers of the relevant state agencies; the legal status of entities operating in the nuclear area; and procedures for handling nuclear material, radioactive substances, and waste. The law stipulates regulations for the physical protection of nuclear installations, nuclear materials, and radioactive substances. Liability for violation of legislation on nuclear-related activities is addressed in sufficient detail.
The law stipulates that government bodies of the subject of the federation or local-government institutions where a nuclear installation, source of radiation, or storage facility is to be located must hold a discussion with organisations and citizens on this matter. In accordance with the results of such a discussion, government bodies must take decisions that are subject to official publication. Individuals and legal entities whose rights and interests are protected by law may appeal such decisions in court (Article 14).
Chapter 12 contains provisions about liability for losses or damage to the health of citizens caused by the individual or legal entity responsible for the radiation (Articles 53-60).
The organisation maintaining a nuclear facility or installation bears civil-law responsibility for losses incurred by individuals and legal entities resulting from exposure to radiation while working with atomic energy in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation (Article 53).
Individuals and legal entitles suffering damages in such a manner may seek compensation through legal means (Article 54).
The Federal Law on Radiation Safety of the Population stipulates principles for ensuring radiation safety and the powers of governmental and administrative agencies, including both federal bodies and those of subjects of the federation, in the area of ensuring radiation safety. The law stipulates general requirements for ensuring radiation safety, as well as the rights and obligations of citizens and civic associations in this area. It also stipulates requirements for monitoring radiation and provides a list of priority measures to ensure radiation safety in case of a nuclear accident. The law establishes radiation-safety standards (radiation dose limits), which is essential. Under this law, the radiation-protection strategy provides that the main criterion of radiation well-being shall be the mean dose absorbed by the population (from any ionising radiation source). Pursuant to this law, a record shall be kept of the number of individuals who have received a dose exceeding the tolerance level.
Various nuclear and radiation safety standards are contained in laws, decrees, and executive orders of the Russian president, as well as in government resolutions.
Since radiation contamination is a form of environmental pollution, a number of environmental regulations (protecting land, underground resources, water, the atmosphere, and plant and animal life) are aimed either at ensuring radiation safety or at directly governing social relations in this area. For instance, the Law of the Russian Federation on Protection of the Atmosphere stipulates requirements for observing the maximum permissible limit of harmful impact on human health and on the environment, including the maximum permissible concentrations of radioactive substances in the atmosphere.
The Russian Federation Water Code contains provisions that prohibit the discharge of wastewater if its potential effect exceeds the established standards of harmful impact (including the radiation impact). Similar regulations aimed at preventing radiation contamination of the land and forests are contained in the Land Code and the Forestry Code of the Russian Federation.
The Law of the Russian Federation on the Subsoil also contains provisions prohibiting contamination of underground resources with radioactive or other harmful substances. Under Article 9 of this law, state-owned companies are the only eligible subsoil users for the purposes of mining radioactive raw materials.
The Law of the Russian Federation on Environmental Protection is of singular importance for legal monitoring of nuclear and radiation safety issues. It contains provisions legislating the powers of governmental and administrative authorities, environmental monitoring agencies, as well as the obligations of citizens in the field of environmental protection, including nuclear and radiation safety. The law stipulates the responsibilities of environmental monitoring agencies concerning the establishment of the maximum permissible concentrations of radioactive substances in the environment, as well as the maximum permissible dose for the population. It also stipulates that these regulations should be observed by all legal entities, officials, and individuals. Responsibilities assigned to the relevant agencies include continuous monitoring (with the use of radiometric instrumentation) of radiation exposure of those involved in handling or using radioactive materials (Article 40). Under this law, nuclear and radiation safety codes and standards must be observed in the siting, design, construction, and operation of nuclear power plants, research reactors, transport vehicles, and military nuclear equipment, as well as in handling radioactive substances and waste.
The Federal Law on Special Environmental Programmes for the Rehabilitation of Radiation-Contaminated Areas governs the issues of ensuring environmental safety in radiation-contaminated areas and financing associated environmental programmes.
Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 264 of 7 March 1997 on the Approval of Physical-Protection Regulations for Nuclear Materials, Nuclear Installations, and Nuclear-Material Storage Facilities governs relationships in the area of ensuring safety in nuclear operations throughout the entire territory of the Russian Federation. Physical protection is understood as a combination of organisational arrangements, engineering features, and the actions of security units aimed at preventing sabotage or the theft of nuclear materials.
As Article 12 of this law stipulates, the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, the Ministry of Atomic Energys successor organization, shall, within the limits of its authority:
- Provide for co-operation among federal executive authorities, executive agencies of subjects of the federation, and organisations involved in the physical protection of facilities posing a radiation hazard, subject to their jurisdiction;
- Act as a central government authority and a point of contact and organisation in the area of ensuring physical protection; and
- Act as a competent government authority for nuclear and radiation safety with respect to the transport of nuclear materials.
The Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight shall, within the limits of its authority (Article 16):
- Carry out state supervision of the physical protection of facilities that pose a radiation hazard, subject to its jurisdiction; and
- Provide for the development and approval, in due course, of regulatory legal acts concerning state supervision of the physical protection of facilities that pose a radiation hazard, subject to its jurisdiction;
The Russian Federation Ministry of Transportation and Communication shall, within the limits of its authority (Article 18):
- Act as a competent authority in the area of transporting nuclear materials and providing for safe movement of vehicles carrying nuclear materials; and
- Ensure compliance with requirements for the physical protection of nuclear materials and participate in the development of regulatory legal acts applicable to the physical protection of nuclear materials during the transport thereof.
The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, known by its Russian acronym ass the FSB, shall, within the limits of its authority (Article 13):
- Conduct criminal investigations aimed at eliciting, preventing, suppressing, and uncovering criminal acts in relation to nuclear materials, installations, and nuclear-material storage facilities.
In accordance with Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 389 of 20 April 1995 on Additional Measures to Improve Monitoring of Compliance with Environmental Safety Requirements Applicable to Reprocessing Spent Nuclear Fuel, and pursuant to Article 80 of the Russian Constitution, in order to ensure environmental safety and protect human health from the harmful effects of ionising radiation in the course of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, the following agencies shall provide for supervision and monitoring of compliance with requirements for radiation safety at all stages of handling spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste/materials originating as a result of the reprocessing thereof:
- The Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight;
- The Russian Federation Ministry of Natural Resources; and
- The Russian Federation Health Ministry.
As stipulated by Article 8 of Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 306 of 14 March 1997 on the Procedure for Taking Decisions Related to Siting and Construction of Nuclear Installations, Sources of Radiation, and Storage Facilities, if, at any stage of construction, any factors are discovered that decrease the level of safety at the relevant facility, damage the environment, or have other adverse consequences, the state authority that approved the construction of the facility must annul that decision and suspend or terminate construction.
Radiation Safety of Personnel, the General Public, and the Environment
Radiation safety of personnel, the general public, and the environment shall be deemed ensured if the fundamental principles of radiation safety (justification, optimisation, and regulation) are adhered to and if the requirements of radiation protection, as set forth in Federal Law NRB-99 on Radiation Safety of the Population (Radiation Safety Norms) and current sanitary regulations, are met.
According to Federal Law No. 52-FZ of 30 March 1999 on the Sanitary and Epidemiological Well-Being of the Population: State sanitary and epidemiological regulations are regulatory legal acts establishing sanitary and epidemiological requirements (including safety criteria for the human habitat, as well as hygienic and other standards), non-observance of which endangers human life or health and creates a danger of disease and the propagation thereof (Article 1).
- Safety criteria for assessing conditions of working with sources causing physical effects that influence peoples health, including allowable exposure limits, are specified by sanitary regulations (Article 27).
- Compliance with sanitary regulations is mandatory for individuals, entrepreneurs, and legal entities (Article 39).
- Those violating sanitary legislation shall face disciplinary, administrative, and criminal liability (Article 55).
According to Federal Law No. 3-FZ of 9 January 1996 on Radiation Safety of the Population: Radiation safety of the population is a condition whereby living and future generations are protected against the unhealthy effects of ionising radiation (Article 1).
- Citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens, and stateless persons residing on the territory of the Russian Federation have a right to radiation safety. This right is secured through a package of arrangements aimed at protecting the human organism from the effects of ionising radiation in excess of the established standards, regulations, and limits (Article 22).
Sanitary Rules SP 126.96.36.1998-99 Ionising Radiation, Radiation Safety. Radiation Safety Norms (NRB-99) (approved by the Chief State Health Inspector of the Russian Federation on 2 July 1999).
Sanitary Regulations SP 188.8.131.529-99 Basic Sanitary Regulations for Radiation Safety (OSPORB-99) (approved by the Chief State Health Inspector of the Russian Federation on 27 December 1999).
OSPORB-99 is not subject to state registration, as it contains only technical standards and not any new legal provisions (Letter by the Russian Federation Justice Ministry No. 4214-ER of 1 June 2000).
- The Basic Sanitary Regulations for Radiation Safety establish requirements for the protection of human beings from the harmful effects of ionising radiation from the sources covered by NRB-99;
- The regulations are binding for all organisations involved in designing, mining, producing, storing, using, transporting, reprocessing, and disposing of radioactive material or other sources of radiation, whose activities have an impact on the level of human exposure to radiation from natural sources, as well as to organisations carrying out work in radiation-contaminated areas;
- The regulations must be observed in designing, constructing, operating, rehabilitating, converting, and decommissioning radiation facilities;
- Bodies of executive power authorised to conduct state supervision and monitoring in the area of radiation safety and special safety-monitoring agencies should follow the regulations.
Regulations for Handling Radioactive Waste
The Sanitary Regulations for Handling Radioactive Waste (SPORO-2002) SP 184.108.40.2068-02 (approved by the Chief State Health Inspector of the Russian Federation on 16 October 2002) include:
- Basic principles of radiation safety and stages of handling radioactive waste;
- Requirements for collecting, storing, and disposing of radioactive waste from an organisations premises;
- Requirements for transporting radioactive waste;
- Dedicated transportation facilities by highway, railroad, air, or waterway shall be used to transport radioactive waste from an organisations premises to another location for reprocessing, storage, and disposal;
- Requirements for the location and equipment of dedicated organisations engaged in handling radioactive waste;
- Requirements for long-term storage and/or disposal of radioactive waste; and
- Arrangements aimed at preventing and eliminating accidents in the course of handling radioactive waste.
Transportation of Radioactive Materials
Sanitary and Epidemiological Regulations and Standards SanPiN 220.127.116.111-03 Sanitary Regulations for Radiation Safety of Personnel and the General Public During the Transportation of Radioactive Material (Substances) (approved by the Chief State Health Inspector of the Russian Federation on 16 April 2003):
- The regulations establish hygiene requirements for radiation safety of personnel and the general public at all stages of the transport of radioactive materials, from the moment of shipment by the consignor until the receipt thereof by the consignee;
- The regulations cover shipment, transport, transit storage, unloading, and receipt of nuclear materials, including radioactive waste, during the course of any type of transportation throughout the entire territory of the Russian Federation. The regulations are binding for all legal entities (hereinafter called organisations), regardless of their departmental affiliation and ownership, and individuals engaged in activities in the area of transporting radioactive materials and storage in transit, as well as in designing, manufacturing, testing, and operating shipping packages and vehicles for radioactive materials.
The legislation in question includes decrees and executive orders of the president of the Russian Federation and resolutions of the government of the Russian Federation that are aimed at ensuring nuclear and radiation safety, preventing accidents and disasters, and protecting the general public and the personnel of nuclear plants from exposure to radiation.
Among the government resolutions, the following should be noted: on the Measures Taken by the Personnel of Nuclear Plants and Protection of the General Public in the Event of Radiation-Related Accidents at Such Nuclear Plants; on a Unified Automated System of Environmental Radiation Monitoring in the Russian Federation; on High-Priority Activities in the Area of Management of Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel; and Regulations for Licensing Activities in the Area of Use of Nuclear Energy, among others.
A number of interdepartmental agencies, authorised by higher governmental and administrative bodies to conduct governmental monitoring of nuclear and radiation safety, have developed and approved numerous regulations, technical and sanitary rules and guidelines (national standards), and procedures of all kinds that are aimed at ensuring nuclear and radiation safety, e.g., Nuclear Safety Regulations for NPP Reactor Facilities, Nuclear Safety Standards, Sanitary Regulations, etc.
In addition to the above regulations, the activities of plants and other entities comprising the nuclear-weapons complex are governed by classified instruments issued by the president and the government of the Russian Federation and other relevant authorities.
The Russian Federation actively co-operates with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA standards and technical guidelines for radiation protection of the population, nuclear and radiation safety standards, and other rules and recommendations on protection against radiation provide the basis for the relevant national regulations. Nuclear and radiation safety standards currently in force in the Russian Federation are also based on the maximum tolerance doses recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
Russia acceded to the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, the Convention on Assistance in the Case of Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, and similar recommendatory documents adopted by the IAEA General Conference.
Governmental Monitoring of Compliance with Nuclear and Radiation Safety Codes and Standards
Monitoring of compliance with nuclear and radiation codes and standards is conducted by state departmental and interdepartmental agencies of various types of authority. Broad powers in this area are granted to representative and executive authorities at all levels.
The heads of ministries and departments, as well as the chief executive officers of corporations, businesses, institutions, organisations, and other entities, constantly monitor compliance with nuclear and radiation safety regulations within the limits of their authority. They do this personally, through special units (inspectorates, services, departments, divisions, laboratories, stations, etc.), and officials directly responsible for nuclear and radiation safety issues. This refers to agencies that, in one way or another, deal with radioactive material in the course of their activities, i.e., mining, processing, manufacturing, accounting for, storing, transporting, using, and disposing of nuclear materials.
Governmental monitoring of compliance with nuclear and radiation safety regulations is carried out by interdepartmental state authorities that are duly authorised and vested with appropriate authority.
Regulations for the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight were approved by Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 401 of 30 July 2004, which states that the service is a federal executive body. Its functions include the following: approval of regulatory legal acts; supervision in the area of environmental protection with respect to limiting the adverse impact of technology (also in the area of handling industrial and consumer waste); safety in operations related to the use and protection of the subsoil; safety in the use of atomic energy (except for activities related to developing, manufacturing, testing, operating, and disposing of nuclear weapons and nuclear-power installations for military purposes); safety of electric and thermal facilities and grids (excluding domestic installations and grids); safety of hydraulic engineering structures within industrial production and energy facilities; safety in production, storage, and use of industrial explosive materials; and special functions in the above area.
The Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight is:
- A government agency for regulating nuclear safety related to the use of atomic energy;
- A specially authorised agency for industrial safety;
- A federal mining inspectorate;
- A specially authorised governmental agency for environmental review within the limits of its jurisdiction;
- A government agency for energy inspection; and
- A specially authorised agency for protecting the atmosphere.
As stipulated by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 26 of 21 January 1997 on Federal Executive Bodies Authorised to Exercise State Regulation of Safety in the Use of Atomic Energy, governmental authorities for nuclear, radiation, engineering, and fire safety regulation in the area of using atomic energy include: the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight; the Russian Health Ministry; the Federal Committee for Mining and Industrial Safety Supervision; and the Russian Ministry of Civil Defence Affairs, Emergencies, and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters. These federal executive bodies may enter into co-operation agreements to enhance the efficiency of governmental regulation of nuclear, radiation, engineering, and fire safety regulation in the area of using atomic energy and to avoid duplication of their functions.
Although there is still no legislation regarding the term environmental licence, it is used in literature on environmental law. An environmental licence is understood to be a licence covering the issue of protecting the environment or using natural resources.
Thus, an environmental licence may be seen as an authorisation to use natural resources or an authorisation to release or discharge harmful substances (including waste) into the environment, specifying methods for environmental protection and rational management of nature and procedures for ensuring human and environmental safety. The process of preparing and reviewing documents from the perspective of protecting the environment, as well as monitoring compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit, constitute an environmental-licensing procedure.
Thus, the environmental-licensing process involves the issuing of licences to conduct ecologically sensitive activities (exploitation of natural resources, in the first instance). These licences should specify the permitted types, scope, and limits of activities related to the use of natural resources, as well as the consequences of failure to meet these requirements.
In Russia today, environmental licensing is the core process of an integrated strategy of managing environmental protection, using natural resources, and ensuring ecological safety. Environmental licences currently serve three interrelated purposes:
- They provide a record of natural-resource users (including land, water, and a hypothetical volume of the atmosphere affected by releases, discharges, etc.);
- They help with monitoring resource consumption and environmental pollution; and
- They allow for management of natural resources and rights to contaminate, or otherwise impact, the environment.
There are two different types of environmental licences: multi-purpose and specific licences. The first type includes licences for integrated use of natural resources; the second, licences for specific activities. Forms of environmental licences issued in Russia are determined in accordance with the extent of rights for the use of natural resources: multi-purpose and specific (specific licenses are issued for each type of natural resource), and rights to pollute, or otherwise have on impact upon, the environment (releasing or discharging waste).
An environmental licence may be issued only after a state environmental-impact assessment has been completed. A multi-purpose licence for use of natural resources may be issued only after the relevant specific licences have been issued by the appropriate government agencies (for each specific resource or type of activity). Hence, a multi-purpose licence combines various environmental limits and other requirements (environmental, sanitary, hygienic, emergency-prevention, etc.) into a system covering a territory or a project as a whole, as well as a combination of activities subject to licensing.
Legal Framework for Licensing
In accordance with the Russian Federation Civil Code and the Law on Licensing of Certain Activities, a legal entity may carry out certain activities as listed in the law only if an appropriate special permit (licence) has been issued to that entity. The list of activities subject to licensing was established by Federal Law No. 128-FZ of 8 August on Licensing of Certain Activities. A legal entitys right to carry out the activity that is subject to licensing begins at the moment that the relevant licence is issued or at another date as may be specified therein, and it ends at the moment the licence expires unless otherwise provided for by law.
The executive authorities of a subject of the Russian Federation may suspend a license issued by the executive authorities of another subject of the federation if it has not been accredited, or if the licensee has failed to comply with local legal requirements. In this case, the licence may not be cancelled unless the licensing authority that issued it makes a decision to that effect.
Users of natural resources who fail to comply with legal requirements, standards, and rules for the use of the environment and natural resources as set forth in the licence shall face administrative, criminal, civil, or other liability in accordance with Russian legislation and local regulations. Prosecution of the offender shall not relieve him or her of responsibility to compensate for damages caused.
Pursuant to Article 26 of the Federal Law on the Use of Atomic Energy, the Russian government resolved to approve Regulations for Licensing Activities in the Use of Atomic Energy (approved by Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 865 of 14 July 1997). These regulations establish the procedure and conditions related to nuclear licensing.
The process of nuclear licensing includes:
- Review of applications and preliminary appraisal of the documents submitted to obtain the licence;
- Review of the submission required to obtain the licence, including a package of analysis reports on nuclear and radiation safety concerning a nuclear installation, source of radiation, nuclear-material storage facility, and/or radioactive-material or a radioactive-material storage facility, or the declared activity;
- A decision to issue or refuse to issue a licence;
- Issue of the licence and establishment of the terms and conditions thereof;
- Follow-up of the issued licence through inspections to verify compliance with the terms and conditions thereof and by amending them as appropriate;
- Change (extension) of the term of the licence or suspension or termination (revocation) of the licence.
Licences are issued to nuclear facility operators and other organisations performing works and services in the area of using atomic energy.
The following is a list of activities in the area of using atomic energy that are subject to licensing by the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight:
- Siting, building, operating, and decommissioning of nuclear installations, radiation sources, nuclear-material/radioactive-substance storage facilities, and radioactive-waste storage facilities.
- Operations involving the handling of nuclear materials and radioactive substances, including those performed in the course of exploration or mining of uranium ore and the production, use, processing, transportation, and storage of nuclear materials or radioactive substances;
- Handling radioactive waste in the course of storing, processing, transporting, and disposing thereof;
- Design and construction of nuclear installations, radiation sources, nuclear-material/radioactive-substance storage facilities, and radioactive-waste storage facilities;
- Design and manufacture of equipment for nuclear installations, radiation sources, nuclear-material/radioactive-substance storage facilities, and radioactive-waste storage facilities;
- Expert review of design, engineering, and production documentation, and analysis reports on nuclear and radiation safety concerning nuclear installations, radiation sources, nuclear-material storage facilities, radioactive materials, radioactive-material storage facilities, or radioactive-waste storage facilities; or activities related to handling nuclear materials, radioactive substances, or radioactive waste.
As part of the process of reviewing submissions required to obtain a licence, the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight (FSETAN, formerly Gosatomnazor) arranges the verification of the data provided in documentation; expert review of analysis reports on nuclear and radiation safety concerning nuclear installations, radiation sources, nuclear-material storage facilities, radioactive materials, or radioactive-material storage facilities, or the declared activity; inspections of the applicants premises, as required; and maintains contact with the applicant to correct any deficiencies that may be identified.
FSETAN conducts governmental supervision of compliance by the licensee with the terms and conditions of the licence and applies sanctions as prescribed by Russian legislation in case the licensee fails to comply with those terms and conditions.
FSETAN may deprive a licensee of the right to carry out the licensed activity by suspending or revoking the licence. A licensee may be deprived of the right to carry out the licensed activity if:
- The licensee violates federal laws or other legal acts of the Russian Federation applicable to the use of atomic energy;
- It is ascertained that documents submitted to obtain a licence provide inadequate information;
- The licensee fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the licence;
- The licensee fails to comply with orders issued by FSETAN or other governmental bodies regulating nuclear safety in the use of atomic energy;
- The licensee fails to comply with orders or instructions issued by governmental authorities, or if those authorities suspend the licensee’s activities in accordance with Russian legislation.
In the event that a licence is suspended, the licensee must cease the activity covered by the licence.
Liability for Violations in the Area of Using Nuclear Energy
The type of liability disciplinary, administrative, or criminal is determined by the degree of the violation committed and the extent to which its consequences pose a risk. Harming individuals or the natural environment entails liability for damages.
Disciplinary liability may apply to workers whose duties directly involve fulfilment of legal rules on the environment. Only workers who perform their duties on a full-time or temporary basis who cause damage to the environment may face disciplinary liability. In such a case, a worker may be disciplined for violating environmental legislation only if the violation occurred during working hours. Punishment for such acts is imposed by the management of the enterprise where the worker is employed (Article 192 of the Russian Federation Labour Code).
A disciplinary offence involves an objective violation consisting of failure to meet the requirements of programmes, to implement certain arrangements, to comply with environmental-quality standards, or failure to observe environmental regulations. For an offence to qualify formally for disciplinary liability, it is important that the failure to meet certain requirements or to observe regulations or laws also represent a failure to fulfil ones duties in accordance with ones employment contract.
Administrative liability for environmental violations may apply to individuals, officials, or legal entities that commit violations as specified in administrative regulations that cause (or may cause) damage to the environment. An administrative environmental offence is an unlawful act or failure to act that infringes environmental laws, endangers peoples health and ecological safety, causes damage to the natural environment, or presents a threat of damage.
The main elements that distinguish an administrative offence and a crime offence are established by the Russian Federation Criminal Code, including: recidivism (Article 260, para. 2); premeditated malice (Article 258); or harming human health or causing damage to animal or plant life (Articles 248, 249, 252, etc.).
An administrative environmental violation involves an objective act or failure to act that violates environmental legislation or environmental requirements applicable to the planning, design, and construction of facilities; concealment or misinterpretation of ecological data; destruction of land; non-compliance with water-protection regulations; or a violation of forest-use regulations, among others (Articles 8.1-8.40 of the Russian Federation Administrative Code) spoil
Administrative liability for environmental offences is applied mainly in the form of fines, the amount of which is specified in the relevant articles of the Administrative Code. The amount of a particular fine is determined by the authority that imposes it, subject to the nature and type of the offence, the extent of the offenders guilt, and the extent of the damage caused. One form of punishment that may be applied for environmental offences is depriving an individual of a special right granted to him or her. Payment of a fine shall not relieve the offender from responsibility to compensate for damages caused.
Criminal liability may apply if an environmental offence poses social danger, and if it is prescribed by criminal law.
Provided that all elements of an environmental offence are in place, criminal liability may apply in the case that a crime has been committed and also if there has been an attempt to commit a crime (Article 30 of the Criminal Code). The new Criminal Code, which entered into force on 1 January 1997, specifies 17 formal elements that are essential for an environmental crime to have taken place.
Criminal liability is applied in accordance with special criminal procedures (inquest, pre-trial investigation, court examination). Criminal liability may be applied only by a court of law.
The Criminal Code provides for more-severe liability for environmental offences as compared with other types of liability: imprisonment, forfeit of estate, or fines that are largely in excess of those imposed for administrative offences.
The new Criminal Code extends and differentiates elements of criminal liability for environmental offences, including those involving acts that are dangerous to society and the environment: having an impact on components of the ecological system, including land, water, the atmosphere, animal and plant life, and human safety. It is important that the code provides for criminal liability for environmental violations in designing, siting, building, and commissioning facilities that have an adverse impact on the environment; officials who conceal or wilfully misrepresent ecological data may also be found criminally liable. The Criminal Code stipulates that officials of the relevant governmental authorities must provide environmental information to the public on a timely basis, especially that concerning human safety. It is very important for preventing harm to individuals and extending the possibility to claim compensation from governmental authorities for the damages caused by environmental offences.