Radioactive facilities in Spain
In depth - September 10, 2019

Radioactive facilities in Spain

There are many types of radioactive facilities in Spain, and they are all governed by a series of regulations to guarantee their operation and safety.

What are radioactive facilities?

Law 25/1964 of April 29 on nuclear power defines radioactive facilities as facilities that use radioactive isotopes or produce ionizing radiations.

These facilities include:

  • Facilities with devices that produce ionizing radiation producing and operate at a power difference higher than 5 kilovolts.
  • Laboratories, factories and facilities that produce, use, own, process, manipulate or store radioactive materials, except for incidental storage during transportation.
Radioactive facilities in Spain
Laboratory where radioactive material is handled (Source: IAEA)

Categories of radioactive facilities

Radioactive facilities are classified into three categories, depending on the potential radiological risk associated to the equipment or materials they use or store:

  • Factories that produce uranium, thorium and their compound materials.
  • Factories that produce fuel elements from natural uranium
  • Facilities that use radioactive sources for industrial radiation purposes.
  • Complex facilities that handle large inventories of radioactive substances or produce radiation beams with an extremely high energy frequency and significant potential radiological impact.
  • Facilities where radioactive nuclides are handled or stored for scientific, agricultural, commercial, medical or industrial means, and with a total activity equal to or greater than 1,000 times that of the legally established exemption.
  • Facilities that use X-ray devices that can function at a peak tension greater than 200 kilovolts.
  • Particle accelerators and facilities that store neutron sources, as long as their classification is not in the first category.
  • Facilities that manipulate or store radioactive nuclides with a total activity above the legally established exemption, or lower than 1,000 times said exemption.
  • Facilities that use X-ray generating devices with a peak tension below 200 kV.

How many radioactive facilities are there in Spain?

This table lists the radioactive facilities in Spain by category, as well as the medical diagnosis devices:

1st category2
2nd category947
3rd category346
X-ray medical devices38,271

Data from late 2018 (Source: report from the Nuclear Safety Council to the Congress of Deputies and Senate, 2018)


All radioactive facilities must be authorized by the corresponding executive authorities after presenting a report from the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN). They must also be registered in the “Radioactive Site Registry” associated with the General Energy Directorate.

Radioactive facilities are governed by the Law on Nuclear and Radioactive Facilities from the Royal Decree 1836/1999 of 3rd December. This law encompasses all the aspects of the management and operation of these facilities, including the competent authorities, site registry, the duty to inform on any incidence, presentation of requests, preceptive reports, concession and renovation of authorizations and the owner’s responsibility.

For X-ray diagnostic devices, there is a specific regulation listed on the Royal Decree 1085/2009 of 3rd July. This regulation includes implementing the Radiological Protection Program for all equipment and their empowerment for regulatory development. Just as with radioactive sites, this equipment must be subjected to CSN’s inspection and control. It must also comply with strict safety requisites.

Sources: Foro Nuclear, CSN (Nuclear Safety Council)

  • Newsletter

    Subscribe to our newsletter and we will keep you up to date with the latest news in the nuclear field.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.