Regulatory tasks in the field of radioactive waste management are carried out not only by technical regulatory authorities but also involve – especially at the policy level – other bodies such as parliamentary, governmental and regional authorities. Regulatory authorities provide advice for the elaboration of national policy and objectives. For geological repositories they develop rules and regulations and the associated practical guidance. During the phases of pre-licensing and licensing, regulators define and develop operational criteria for such concepts as Best Available Techniques, and optimisation for geological repositories. Finally, they supervise and control implementation. An important issue in regulating disposal of long-lived radioactive waste, however, is that the effects of disposal are only apparent in the far future, which makes it impractical for today’s regulators to evaluate performance for the purpose of continuous improvement of the regulatory cycle. Decisions have to be taken, therefore, on the basis of the best knowledge available at the point of commitment to closure and/or abandonment of retrievability – and with clear, societal understanding and agreement about the objectives and their ethical implications.
The NEA's Regulators’ Forum (RF) has discussed the complexity and variety of delivery of the regulatory function. The Regulators' Forum is made up of regulators who participate in the work of the Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) and the Committee on Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations and Legacy Management (CDLM). The NEA Strategic Plan provides a supporting framework for initiatives in regulating radioactive waste management, decommissioning and legacy management activities. In accordance with the NEA Strategic Plan, the RF will help to address common regulatory issues of NEA member countries in the above-mentioned fields.