Accept Refuse

EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Radioactive waste shipments - supervision and control

Radioactive waste shipments - supervision and control

The EU requires prior authorisation for shipments of radioactive waste*, to minimise public health risks.


Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom of 20 November 2006 on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel



  • Allows for spent fuel to be sent between EU countries for reprocessing.
  • Requires prior authorisation for moving radioactive waste and spent fuel* across borders if it is being sent from, through or to an EU country.
  • Stipulates that shipments of radioactive substances which flout the directive must be returned to their country of origin.


EU-wide system for shipments

There is a compulsory EU-wide system, using a standard control document.

When shipments of radioactive waste arrive in, leave from or transit through EU countries, the relevant national authorities must be notified.

To send a shipment, the holder* must apply to the competent authorities in the country of origin.

To receive a shipment, the importer must apply to the competent authorities in the country of destination.

The country of destination and, if applicable, the country of transit, must notify the authorities in the country of origin of their approval before a consignment can be shipped.

What types of shipment are not covered by the directive?

  • Disused sources* being returned to a supplier.
  • Reprocessed radioactive waste intended for a different use.
  • Naturally occurring radioactive waste that is not the result of processing.

The directive bans exporting radioactive waste to:

  • African, Caribbean or Pacific countries, as stipulated in the Cotonou Agreement,
  • any other non-EU country that cannot manage radioactive waste.


From 25 December 2008.

For details, see ‘Transport of radioactive materials’ .


* Radioactive waste - radioactive material that is of no further use.

* Spent fuel - nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a reactor core and permanently removed. It may be a resource that can be reprocessed and reused, or be destined for final disposal.

* Holder - any individual or organisation in charge of planning the shipment of radioactive waste or spent fuel and legally responsible for it prior to shipment.

* Disused sources - sources which are no longer used or intended to be used for the practice for which authorisation was granted.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/117/Euratom



OJ L 337, 5.12.2006, pp. 21-32


Commission Recommendation 2008/956/Euratom of 4 December 2008 on criteria for the export of radioactive waste and spent fuel to third countries (OJ L 338, 17.12.2008, pp. 69-71)

Commission Decision 2008/312/Euratom of 5 March 2008 establishing the standard document for the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuel referred to in Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom (OJ L 107, 17.4.2008, pp. 32-59)

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the implementation by the Member States of Council Directive 2006/117/Euratom on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive waste and spent fuels (COM(2013) 240 final of 25 April 2013)

last update 27.08.2015