(Updated 2018)


This report provides information on the status and development of nuclear power programmes in Chile, including factors related to the effective planning, decision making and implementation of the nuclear power programme that together lead to the safe and economical operation of nuclear power plants.

The Country Nuclear Power Profile (CNPP) summarizes organizational and industrial aspects of nuclear power programmes and provides information about the relevant legislative, regulatory and international framework in Chile.

Currently, Chile has no nuclear power plants and has not taken any decision regarding the development of a nuclear power programme. However, Chile has a strong background on other nuclear applications.



1.1.1. Energy policy

During the past 30 years, Chile’s energy policy has been based on open, competitive markets. Within this framework, the State plays a regulatory role, and its entrepreneurial activities are limited. It is presumed that the market will provide adequate security of supply(1). However, one of the lessons of the global energy reality — marked by the gradual exhaustion of fossil fuels, increasing concern about security of supply and problems associated with climate change — is that the market alone is not able to address new challenges, and that a more proactive role by the State is needed to reconcile energy and competitiveness objectives with those of security and sustainability.

The Chilean Parliament approved the creation of a Ministry of Energy in November 2009 and the new Ministry of Energy began operations in February 2010. This ministry centralizes the functions of developing, proposing and evaluating public policies in the energy arena, including the definition of objectives, regulatory framework and strategies to be applied, as well as the development of public policy instruments.

In addition to local energy issues, there are a number of external challenges to be addressed, particularly concerning climate change. This concern has led several countries to make commitments with regards to their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to develop policies to mitigate these emissions. Given Chile’s increasing economic and political interaction with the world, it is quite probable that Chile will not only face demands to implement emissions mitigation actions, but also to tailor its export business to reduce its “carbon footprint” to the rest of the world or similar mechanisms.

Bearing in mind these challenges, the Government has implemented a series of measures designed to promote the development of non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE)(2) and energy efficiency(3). These measures not only address global environmental problems, but are also in line with explicit Government objectives. On one hand, these objectives increase energy security by diversifying sources, reducing external dependence, increasing the sustainability of the energy mix and equal access to energy; but, on the other hand, affect the security of the electric system due the inclusion of variable sources of energy such as solar and wind, a challenge that the country is currently facing.

In May 2014, the president of Chile presented the Energy Agenda as a road map for the development of government actions in this area, which established as one of its tasks “the design and execution of a long-term Energy Policy with social, political, and technical validation.” To that end, two horizons were identified: one short term and one medium- and long term. The first was to discuss the work areas in terms of the standards, policies and regulations that will guarantee the technical feasibility and sustainability of the energy matrix. The second was to discuss strategic and technological aspects that will define the energy matrix that Chile will promote from now until 2050.

In the context of the Energy Agenda, a discussion process was developed that included key stakeholders from the public sector, industry, academia, civil society, the regions of the country and the general public. The process lasted a year and a half and brought together more than 4000 people. The goal was to develop the country’s long term energy policy, which was launched in July 2014. An advisory committee, led by the Minister of Energy, and composed of key participants from the sector, was convened with regional and national representation. The members form part of various ministries and public institutions, trade associations, civil society and Chilean universities. In recent years, the committee evaluated the proposed Road Map for 2050: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Energy for Chile. The road map contains key items to be considered by the energy policy in the long term.

Furthermore, a public consultation process was conducted regarding the energy policy document. The process yielded over 400 comments that varied in scope and perspective. In addition, five regional workshops were conducted in Santiago, Calama, Puerto Montt, La Serena, and Concepción; they were attended by approximately 420 people from different areas of society who are interested in the energy sector. The comments collected during the public consultation process and at the regional workshops served as important inputs for the drafting of this policy.

In December 2015, the Government published the document Energy 2050: Chile’s Energy Policy, which has been validated in an open participatory process approved by Chilean citizens. The energy policy proposes a vision of Chile’s energy sector by the year 2050 as being reliable, inclusive, competitive and sustainable. This vision is part of a systemic approach in which the main goal is to achieve and maintain the reliability of the entire energy system while meeting sustainability and inclusion criteria and contributing to the competitiveness of the nation’s economy. In order to make this vision a reality by 2050, the energy policy is sustained by four pillars: Quality and Security of Supply, Energy as a Driving Force for Development, Environmentally Friendly Energy, and Energy Efficiency and Energy Education (see Fig. 1). The proposed measures and action plans shall be developed on the basis of these pillars between now and the year 2050.

FIG. 1. Four pillars of the energy policy.

  • Pillar 1: Quality and Security of Supply:

    a. Security and flexibility of centralized production;

    b. Decentralized production and active management of demand.

  • Pillar 2: Energy as a Driving Force for Development:

    a. Inclusive energy development;

    b. Equitable access to energy services and quality of life;

    c. Territorial inclusiveness;

    d. Competitiveness in the energy sector.

  • Pillar 3: Environmentally Friendly Energy:

    a. Renewable energy matrix;

    b. Local externalities;

    c. Energy and climate change.

  • Pillar 4: Energy Efficiency and Energy Education:

    a. Energy efficiency;

    b. Education and energy culture.

The main goals of Energy 2050 are summarized in Table 1:


By 2035
By 2050
Current Statusa
Interconnection with other Andean Region Electric Interconnection System members (Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia are member countries, and Bolivia is an observer country) and with other South American economies, particularly Mercosur economies (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia [in the accession process] and Venezuela).
Energy sector GHG emissions below limits established in the economy-wide goals.
In 2016, Chile sent natural gas to Argentina via national pipelines located in the north and central areas of the country.
In February 2016, the economy began to export electricity with Argentina. This exchange follows the authorization of the Company AES Gener S.A. to export electric power to Argentina as stipulated in Supreme Decree N° 7 (July 2015).
In December 2017, Chile and Argentina signed a protocol agreement to exchange electricity and gas between the countries.
Energy disruption reduced to less than four hours per year in any locality in Chile, except in cases of force majeure.
Energy disruption reduced to less than one hour per year in any locality in Chile, except in cases of force majeure.
In 2016, disruptions totalled 6.5 hours, which was a decrease of 8.5 hours from 2015.

Continuous and reliable access to energy services for all vulnerable dwellings.
Universal and equitable access to reliable and modern energy services.
No information
All developed projects have association mechanisms between project developers and communities to foster local development and better performance.
Territorial, regional and local planning and management tools conforming to the energy policy are in place.
No information
Be among the five OECD economies having the lowest average electricity prices at the residential and industrial levels.
Be among the three OECD economies having the lowest average electricity prices at the residential and industrial levels.
No information
At least 60% of electricity generation from renewable sources.
At least 70% of electricity generation from renewable sources.
Overall, in 2016, 35% of electricity generation in Chile came from renewable resources
A 30% GHG emissions intensity reduction in comparison with 2007.
Energy consumption decoupled from GDP growth.
Energy consumption in 2015 decoupled from GDP growth in a 30% approximately.
All large energy consumers (industry, mining and transport) to apply energy efficiency measures.
All new buildings will be constructed as per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) standards of efficient construction and smart systems of energy management.
No information
All municipalities to adopt regulations declaring traditional biomass as solid fuel.
100% of the main categories of appliances sold in the Chilean market are energy efficient.
No information
All new auctioned vehicles for public passenger transportation to be evaluated under energy efficiency standards.
Energy conservation measures are implemented in all sectors.
No information

Regarding nuclear energy, Energy 2050 notes:

Despite the fact that Chile’s Energy Policy does not exclude a priori any generation technology, nuclear energy has not been included as a short-term option, because it requires research on key issues, such as its long-term economic viability in the face of various legal and market conditions, and the legal and institutional amendments required, among others. This research should be directed by the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (Comisión Chilena de Energía Nuclear, CCHEN) by drawing on competent national agencies. The next evaluation process of Chile’s long-term Energy Policy will review the appropriateness of incorporating this technology into the electricity generation matrix.

The current government will not make any decisions regarding the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity. However, according to Energy 2050, it is responsible and necessary to continue the studies and technical exchanges with developed countries to allow future governments to take a stand on this matter, with the participation of an adequately informed society.

1.1.2. Estimated available energy


  Estimated available energy sources
 Fossil fuels Nuclear  Renewables
  Solid1 Liquid2 Gas3 Uranium4 Hydro5 Other
 Total amount in specific units* 1.86 8,154 748 0.01 1.85
Total amount in exajoules (EJ) 0.08 0.35 0.409
* Solid, liquid: million tonnes; gas: million m3; uranium: metric tonnes; hydro, renewable: TW.
** Light water reactor open cycle assumption.
*** National Energy Commission (CNE) estimates. Includes geothermal, wind power, biomass and small scale hydraulic energy(<20MW).
—: data not available.
1 Ministry of Energy of Chile.
2, 3 Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (National Oil Company, ENAP).
4 Reasonably Assured Resources (RAR) under < USD 260/kgU, Uranium 2014, Resources, Production and Demand (“Red Book”).
5 Hydropower: Technically exploitable capability, the amount of the gross theoretical capability that can be exploited within the limits of current technology, CNE.
6 Energy Policy: New Guidelines, CNE, 2008. NCRE: Potential for electricity generation.
Source: Energy Policy: New Guidelines (CNE, 2008).

1.1.3. Energy statistics


  1980 1990 2000 2010 2013 2014

2016 Compound Annual Growth Rate (%) 2000 to 2016
Energy Consumption**              
Total 0.418 0.599 1.054 1.312 1.614 1.542 1.598 1.674 3,7%
Solids*** 0.052 0.110 0.135 0.178 0.295 0.245 0.314 0.311 5,4%
Liquids 0.222 0.286 0.473 0.692 0.722 0.730 0.700 0.732 2,8%
Gases 0.044 0.060 0.250 0.214 0.186 0.168 0.177 0.202 -1,3%
Hydro 0.026 0.032 0.069 0.078 0.072 0.083 0.085 0.083 1,2%
Other Renewables**** 0.074 0.111 0.178 0.150 0.339 0.317 0.321 0.346 4,2%
Energy Production            
Total 0.304 0.339 0.368 0.324 0.526 0.525 0.515 0.530 2,3%
Solids*** 0.027 0.064 0.011 0.010 0.064 0.077 0.057 0.045 9,2%
Liquids 0.069 0.039 0.012 0.010 0.016 0.016 0.011 0.009 –1,8%
Gases 0.107 0.092 0.095 0.076 0.038 0.031 0.039 0.047 –4,3%
Hydro 0.027 0.033 0.072 0.078 0.072 0.083 0.085 0.083 0,9%
Other Renewables**** 0.074 0.111 0.178 0.150 0.336 0.318 0.323 0.346 4,2%
Net import (Import-Export) 0.0114 0.260 0.686 0.988 1.088 1.017 1.083 1.143 2,9%

** Energy consumption = primary energy consumption + net import (import–export) of secondary energy.

*** Solid fuels include coal, lignite.

****Renewables include biomass, wind, biogas.

Source: Chilean Energy Balance (CNE —


1.2.1. Electricity system and decision making process

The Chilean electricity sector was a global pioneer in establishing competitive conditions in the generation and sale of electricity, maintaining the transmission and distribution segments under a system of financial regulation. In addition, private investment in generation, transmission and distribution assets led to significant expansion in the capacity of each of the electricity systems, thus satisfying the peak demand of the country.

The main decision making organizations in the electricity sector are described below:

  • The powers related to the design of policies, legal and regulatory provisions, plans and programs become the responsibility of the Ministry of Energy, which governs the country’s energy sector.

  • The Ministry’s highest authority is the Minister of Energy. Internal administration and coordination of public energy services is the responsibility of the Undersecretariat of Energy (

  • The following services report to the Ministry of Energy: National Energy Commission, Superintendence of Electricity and Fuels, Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency and Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission.

  • CNE (National Energy Commission) is a decentralized and independent public service in charge of technical and economic regulation of the energy sector. It has four main roles: to study and propose regulations; to calculate regulated prices; to provide technical advice to the government; and to technically oversee the sector (

  • SEC’s (Superintendence of Electricity and Fuels) function is to supervise and control the fulfilment of the legal framework provisions for the generation, production, transportation, distribution and storage of liquid fuels, gas and electricity, according to the technical quality framework applied to the customers (users) and to the operations and use of the energy resources, to ensure that this is not a risk to people or things (Law 18.410 Fuel and Electricity Superintendence (

  • ACHEE (Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency) has the mission to promote and strengthen the efficient use of energy by applying public–private initiatives in different energy consuming sectors and implementing specific programs and projects to boost energy consumption, especially in sectors with high consumption.

  • CCHEN (Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission) has the mission to assist the Government in all affairs related to nuclear energy, dealing with problems related to the production, purchase, transfer, transportation and peaceful uses of atomic energy and of fertile, fissionable and radioactive material (

To ensure transparency and equal access to electricity in free-market pricing for contracts with distribution companies, prices are referred to as Average Node Prices and are determined every six months by the National Energy Commission, which simulates the expected operation of the system and calculates prices. These prices determine how much the distribution companies have to pay to energy suppliers, considering the existing contracts between distribution companies and suppliers. The final price for small consumers, who are affected by regulation of prices, considers the sum of the price that the distribution companies pay to the suppliers, plus the distribution aggregated value and a fee for using the transmission system. The price of the electricity paid by large consumers, who are not affected by regulation of prices, depends on private contracts held between the clients and the energy supplier.

1.2.2. Structure of electric power sector

Currently, the Chilean electrical system is 100% privately owned. The Government has a supervisory and regulatory role, through the Ministry of Energy, by the CNE and the SEC. The generation segment is dominated by Enel, Colbun, Gener (AES), Engie and others. The largest provider of the transmission grid is Transelect. The main distributors include ENEL Distribución, Compañía General de Electricidad S.A. (CGE) Distribution, Chilquinta Energy, Sociedad Austral de Electricidad (Saesa) (see Fig. 2).

There is central planning at the generation level but it is only indicative because the projects are developed and determined by private actors.

FIG. 2. Structure of the Chilean electricity market and regulation.

The current network regulation of the sector is non-discriminatory, and three party access to generation, transmission and distribution is applied on the Chilean network. Network operators are required to provide a connection to any generator which has complied with current regulations, including environmental, technical standards and construction regulations.

End user prices (energy retail prices) are comprised of regulated distribution charges, a wholesale price and relevant transmission charges. However, the regulation allows consumers with an installed power of higher than 500 kW to choose the category of tariff (free or regulated).

The market is structured around three prices: spot (generators), free (large consumers) and regulated (smaller scale consumers).

Current legislation establishes as a basic premise that tariffs must represent the actual costs of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity associated with an efficient operation, in order to deliver the appropriate signals to both companies and consumers and obtain an optimal development of electrical systems.

One of the general criteria is the freedom of prices in those segments where conditions of competition are observed. Thus, end users whose connected power is less than or equal to 5000 kW are considered sectors where the characteristics of the market create a natural monopoly and therefore, the General Law on Electric Power Services DFL N°4-2006 establishes that the end users are affected by regulation of prices. Alternatively, for supplies to end users whose connected power exceeds 5,000 kW, Act 147 N°(4) provides for price freedom, implying negotiating capacity and the possibility of providing electricity in other ways, such as self-generation or direct supply from generating companies. The first group of customers are called regulated customers and the second, free customers, although customers with a connected power of more than 500 kW can choose which regime to register with (free or regulated) for a period of 4 years.

In electrical systems whose size exceeds 1500 kW in installed generation capacity, the Law DFL 4/20018 distinguishes two price levels subject to fixation:

  1. Prices at the generation-transport level, called ‘node prices’, define all generation–transport substations from which the supply is made. The knot prices are typically comprised of two components: energy price and peak power price.

  2. Prices at the distribution level are often determined on the basis of the sum of the node price, established at the point of connection with the distribution facilities, an added value for distribution and a single charge or toll for the use of the trunk transmission system.

Generators can market their power and power in one of the following markets:

  • Large consumer market, at a freely agreed price;

  • Market of distribution companies, at node price, in the case of electricity destined for regulated price customers;

  • The spot market where generators can buy energy at a marginal hourly cost, determined by the National Electric Coordinator (CEN).

The regulatory framework for the Chilean electricity sector was established almost three decades ago; this enabled the development of an industry with a high level of participation of private capital. The General Law on Electric Power Services: DFL No. 1 of 1982 (LGSE), whose text is included under DFL N°4-2006, contains the main amendments thereto:

  • Short Law I, Law 19 940 (Ley Corta I) — March 2004, introduced new regulation applicable to the transmission system, development of the transmission system, the rates transmission facility owners can charge to users of the system and regulation concerning reliability and ancillary services.

  • Short Law II, Law 20 018 (Ley Corta II) — May 2005, stipulates energy supply bids to regulate customers through long term contracts up to 15 years, to stimulate the development of investments in the generation sector. These contracts are indexed to the consumer price index (CPI) of the United States of America and other relevant fuel indexes. Law No. 20 257 (Law NCRE), an amendment to the Chilean electricity law, was enacted in 2008. This amendment promotes the use of non-conventional renewable energies (NCRE). The law defines the different types of technologies considered to be NCRE. Under this law, power generation companies are required to supply 10% of their total contractual obligations with distribution companies, and entered into after 31 August 2007, for the period between 2010 and 2014 with NCRE. This is due to the fact that each electric company with an installed capacity exceeding 200 megawatts, selling to distribution companies or with end customers, must prove that an amount of energy equivalent to 10% of its withdrawals in each calendar year has been injected into the systems, by non-conventional renewable generation, owned or contracted. The obligation to supply electricity with NCRE will increase by 0.5% annually from 2015 in order to reach 10% by 2024. In 2013, the share was increased by Law 20 698 to 20% by 2025. The law defines the following energy sources as NCRE: biomass, hydropower with capacity less than 20 MW, geothermal, solar, wind, marine energy and other means of generation determined by the CNE.

  • “General Environmental Law” (No. 19 300), regulates and establishes the environmental framework in Chile. This law was amended early in 2009 by Law No. 20 417, which changed the environmental regulation that had existed so far. Among the main changes is the creation of the Environmental Ministry, the Environmental Superintendence as well as the Environmental Courts and the Biodiversity and Protected Wild Areas Service. Among the main modifications is the reformulation of the fines. Transmission Law No. 20 936. introduces a major reform to the LGSE. The law enhances the role of the state in energy planning and the expansion of the transmission system — the state now assumes certain functions that were previously in the hands of the private sector. The law introduces several new regulatory changes for Chile’s electricity sector. It created the National Electric Coordinator (Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional, CEN), a unified independent system operator. It supports grid expansion, cross-border connections and a long term energy planning (LTEP) process for a time span of at least 30 years. Transmission expansion planning processes carried out by the CNE use one or more results from the LTEP. In the remuneration of the transmission system, tolls are borne completely by the consumers and define the mechanisms to determinate the Cost of Capital Rate, which could fluctuate between 7% and 10%, after taxes.

  • The operation of electrical installations interconnected with each other shall be coordinated in order to:

    1. Preserve the safety of the service in the electrical system;

    2. Guarantee the most economic operation for all the electrical system installations;

    3. Guarantee open access to all transmission systems available in the Library of Congress of Chile ( document generated on 22 July 2016, in conformity to this law.

  • Water rights are governed by the ‘Código de Aguas’ (‘Water Code’), which defines the means by which water rights may be obtained, the characteristics of water rights and how such rights may be constituted and exercised. Water rights are granted by the Water Management Board (Dirección General de Aguas or DGA). The Water Code dates back 50 years and was last modified in 2005.

Prior to 2017, the Chilean electrical grid maintained four separate systems, widely distributed throughout the country. They are the Far North Interconnected System (SING) in the north, Central Interconnected System (SIC) in the central and southern zone of the country, and Aysen Electrical System and Magallanes Electrical System, located in the extreme south of Chile. Since November 2017, the SING and SIC are interconnected, forming the National Electricity System (SEN), with a length of 3 100 km from Arica to Chiloe, supplying electricity to more than 97% of the national population.

Following is a brief explanation of the two main electrical systems:

  • SING — The Far North Interconnected System goes through the first and second regions of Chile and covers an area of 185 142 km2, which is equivalent to 24.5% of the continental territory. As of April 2018, it reached a capacity of 5,291 MW and its supply coverage reaches close to 9% of the population.

  • SIC — The Central Interconnected System consists of transmission systems and generation plants which operate interconnectedly, from Rada de Paposo in the north (second region) to Isla Grande de Chiloé in the south (tenth region). This system is the largest of the four electrical systems providing energy to Chile. As of 31 December 2015, it reached a capacity of 15,616 MW, and its supply coverage reaches close to 90% of the population.

At present, the National Electric System (SEN) has an independent non-profit operator of public law called the National Electric Coordinator (CEN), with its own equity and indefinite duration. The organization, composition, functions and attributions are governed by the provisions of Law No. 20 936 and its regulations. Before the SIC and SING were interconnected there were two independent operators called the Economic Load Dispatch Centre (CDEC), denoted CDEC-SIC and CDEC-SING for each system, respectively. The CEN based its operation on the regulatory framework and electrical service quality standards in order to ensure correct operation of the system in terms of voltage, frequency and dispatch of generating units at the lowest marginal cost available in the spot market. Reference prices for the sector are fixed twice a year through the node prices. Currently, the Minister of Energy sets tariff decrees for different segments and expansion decrees through the CNE. An expert panel resolves disagreements among electricity sector companies, and between the companies and the CNE.

The coordinator is not part of the State administration, therefore the general or special provisions dictated for the public sector are not applicable unless expressly mentioned. However, the directors, the executive director and their staff shall be qualified as public employees only for the purpose of applying Article 260 of the Penal Code.

1.2.3. Main indicators






Compound annual growth rate (%) 2000 to last year
Capacity of electrical plants

- Thermal 1.283 4.827 8.080 10.160 10.361 7.2
- Nuclear
- Hydro 2.486 4.272 5.230 5.730 6.393 3.1
- Wind 0.180 0.300 1.102 32.0
- Geothermal
- Other renewable 0.069 0.105 0.460 0.840 4.189 243.1
- Total 3.838 9.204 13.960 17.020 22.045 8.7
Electricity production (TW.h) G/N
- Thermal 9.440 19.859 21.668 30.856 47.281 8.6
- Nuclear
- Hydro 8.930 19.000 21.38 19.737 19.208 0.1
- Wind 0.325 0.547 2.216 36.4
- Geothermal
- Other renewable 0.910 10.000 10.299 5.171 29.3
- Total** 18.370 39.769 53.369 61.439 73.877 5.4
Total electricity consumption
36.292 56.946 68.866 n.a. 6.0

1 Electricity transmission losses are not deducted.

** Other renewable include solar and biomass.

—: data not available.

n.a.: not applicable.

Source: National Energy Commission (


  1990 2000 2010 2015 2016
Energy consumption per capita (GJ/capita) 31.6 69.1 76.9 88.7 92.0
Electricity consumption per capita 1 345.7 2512.7 3337.4 3905.5 4018.1
Electricity production/Energy production 19.54% 40.38% 63.22% 49.13% 49.6%
Nuclear/Total electricity
Ratio of external dependency 43.41% 65.09% 75.29% 67.75% 68.31%

1 Net import/Total energy consumption.

* Energy National Balance 2016 is not yet published.

—: data not available.

Sources: Energy National Balance (; Statistic National Institute (; World Development Indicators (; Load Economic Load Dispatch Centre ( and



2.1.1. Overview

By the end of the 1960s, ENDESA (the National Electricity Company), through an existing cooperation agreement with France, sent several professionals abroad to study and get trained in nuclear subjects. On their return, these professionals established a Nuclear National Office, whose mission was to establish a nuclear power plant in Chile. The group decided on a 100 MW reactor, which would be located in the Antofagasta region (in northern Chile) and include a desalinization plant with a capacity of about 20 000 m3/month. They also started the process of locating an appropriate site, hiring the US company NUS Corporation for this task. The plan was to have the reactor operating by 1975. The only remaining task was to make a trip through Europe in order to visit several reactors and learn about the vendors’ proposals in order to choose a provider and sign a contract.

In October 1970, Salvador Allende was elected president, and with his party coming into power, the plan for implementing a nuclear power program was set aside. ENDESA closed the Nuclear National Office and reassigned the professionals to other areas.

By the end of the 1970s, with a military government coming into power, the nuclear power option was relaunched. This time the project considered the implementation of a 600 MW reactor, which would be located in the central region. The site selection study was performed by the US company Dames & Moore. The project did not seem feasible from an economic perspective; the nuclear plant not only had high construction and maintenance costs, but also required a robust electrical system. Additionally, there was a perceived ambiguity between the peaceful and military use of nuclear energy, so there was internal opposition to this option. Finally, the nuclear option was dismissed in 1982.

Since then, the debate reemerged strongly with the energy crisis of 2007. In 2007, the Nuclear Energy Working Group was formed to study the feasibility of the implementation and use of nuclear energy in Chile. This study concluded that according to international experience and despite the risk of earthquakes faced by Chile and potential waste management problems, nuclear energy is a viable option, but further studies were needed before making any decision.

In 2010, the study Nuclear Electricity: Possibilities and Challenges stated that the development of nuclear energy in Chile should aim to close identified gaps: “…technological, institutional and fundamental knowledge such as a complete geological information of the economy, modify the current legal and regulatory institutions, implement a plan to meet the human resources needs and finalize other complementary studies”. The study also concluded that public approval is not only a fundamental requirement but also the biggest challenge faced before considering nuclear power as an energy alternative. If these problems were solved by the mid-2010s, the study estimated that nuclear power plants might be included as part of Chile’s energy matrix. One of the main conclusions of this study was that nuclear power would be a “strategic insurance that would ensure sustainable energy supply in the long term”. The study predicted that nuclear energy could become part of Chile’s energy matrix as early as 2024

In March 2010, a new government came to power, which announced that it would continue studying the nuclear option in close cooperation with the IAEA. However, during this government two important events took place that had a negative impact on national plans for evaluating a nuclear power option: Chile’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake (2010) and Japan’s earthquake and Fukushima accident (2011). In addition to the tragedy that Chile’s earthquake brought to the country, the event increased public awareness regarding Chile’s highly seismic nature and raised fears that the country might not be prepared enough to withstand these kinds of events. The Fukushima accident followed a year later, and contributed to definitely putting on hold the nuclear power evaluation process. For the following 4 years no relevant work was performed on this topic.

In January 2015, the Government decided to review whether the conclusions of previous studies were still valid in the light of new developments, and what the country should do if it decided to resume the evaluation process, so the Nuclear Power Energy Committee was created to prepare the report Nuclear Power Generation in Chile: Towards a Rational Decision. This report agrees with the previous report from 2010 that the country must continue working to close the gaps inhibiting the proper implementation of nuclear energy. Furthermore, the report states that the possibility of using nuclear energy should not be discarded without a “rational and comprehensive analysis and considering all relevant aspects of this technology and the feasibility of its use in Chile”. Finally, the report concludes that social approval is crucial to start any project involving nuclear energy development in Chile.

In December 2015, the Government published the document Energy 2050: Chile’s Energy Policy, as a long term energy policy with a clear map of the Chilean energy sector to 2050. Energy 2050 states that nuclear energy is not an option for Chile at the present time, and its uptake depends on further research regarding security and economic rationality as well as community acceptance. Despite the exclusion of nuclear energy from the energy agenda, its possible use in the future has not been ruled out. In fact, the need for additional studies related to technology, location, waste management and public approval has been recognized and the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission has been appointed to lead these studies so that in the next review of the energy policy (2020) this option could be discussed.

Currently, a team has been set up to work on this task and some resources have been allocated for hiring external studies in some specific topics.

2.1.2. Current organizational structure

The Strategic Development and Nuclear Power office was created in CCHEN on March 2016. This office is leading the studies to be developed by 2020 and is working closely with Minister of Energy and the National Energy Commission.


Not applicable


2.3.1. Nuclear power development strategy

  1. Main strategic decisions

CCHEN is leading studies to be developed by 2020. The analysis will be performed according to the potential contribution of nuclear power to the main pillars of the energy policy.

  1. Project framework (time scales, number of units, etc.)

In the next review of the energy policy, the nuclear power option should be reviewed. This will take place by 2020.

  1. Type of contract (turnkey, split package, multiple packages)

To be decided, but the turnkey approach is expected to be considered.

  1. Application of nuclear power (electricity supply, heat supply, water desalination)

To be decided, but all the options will be considered.

  1. Policy for nuclear fuel cycle

Even though more studies still need to be performed, it is foreseen that the country is more likely to implement the following an open fuel cycle that abstains from both sending fuel to be reprocessed and from developing its own capacity to do so. This takes into account the international community’s concerns regarding proliferation, as well as the fact that reprocessing is not economically viable for small scale programs.

2.3.2. Project management

There is no formal Nuclear Energy Programme Implementing Organization (NEPIO) in place yet. Currently, there is a working group composed of CCHEN, the National Energy Commission and the Ministry of Energy. The CCHEN team is in charge of leading the work, working directly with the IAEA and proposing new studies to the Ministry of Energy.

2.3.3. Fuel supply

At present, Chile only has the ability to build fuel elements for research reactors, and not a type that is suitable for nuclear power reactors. Regarding uranium mining, although uranium deposits have been found and there is a pilot project in place to extract uranium from copper mining waste, this remains a pilot project.

2.3.4. Project funding

Some funding was allocated for conducting studies on relevant topics such as communication, safety, environmental issues and costs for a nuclear reactor that may operate in Chile.

2.3.5. Electric grid development

The two main electrical systems were recently interconnected.

Long term energy projections are being performed, using both IAEA models — including the Model for Analysis of Energy Demand (MAED) and Model for Energy Supply System Alternatives and their General Environmental Impacts (MESSAGE) — and national models.

2.3.6. Site selection

A study was performed in 2008 to assess natural hazards such as earthquakes and surface faulting, tsunamis, flooding, geotechnical issues and volcanism. Based on the results of that study, the need for further information was identified. However, there are no intentions of moving forward on identifying potential sites until the country has made a decision to launch a nuclear power program.

CCHEN will continue to review international regulations for authorizing sites and licensing process in order to identify main exclusion criteria that could be applied in Chile. Additionally, some other non-technical aspects will be reviewed.


Not applicable


Not applicable


Not applicable


Chile has no nuclear power reactors, but there are two research reactors, managed by CCHEN, which have boosted the nuclear fuel cycle development in the country and encouraged complementary activities that will allow for the safe operation of nuclear facilities.

Uranium Exploration and Reserves

To date, nearly 7% of the national territory has been prospected, using geochemical, geophysical, radiometric-geological and aero-radiometric prospecting techniques in order to look for natural atomic material(5) and other material of nuclear interest(6). More than 1200 radiometric and geochemical abnormalities were detected, of which 80 occurrences of uranium and thorium were studied. These studies created 10 prospects of uranium, thorium and rare earths, with 70 further sectors of interest requiring more studies.

Extractive Metallurgy

CCHEN has developed the knowledge to produce nuclear uranium ore concentrate. The knowledge acquired in obtaining, concentrating and purifying uranium, found in natural minerals, is used to research and develop processes applicable to national mining.


The conversion process from UF6 to metallic uranium has been developed. This process contains three stages:

  1. Obtaining UO2F2 through hydrolysis of UF6;

  2. Obtaining UF4 through UO2F2 reduction, by adding SnCl2 and hydrofluoric acid;

  3. Obtaining metallic uranium through metal-thermal reaction of UF4 with powdered magnesium, Mg.

Currently, the Nuclear Fuel Section is studying alloys of uranium–molybdenum for their use as fuel for research reactors, in order to obtain a reduction greater than 20% of 235U required for the reactor’s operation.

MTR Fuel Elements Fabrication

CCHEN fabricates fuel for material test reactors (MTRs). It is noteworthy that Chile is one of the five acknowledged manufacturers of this type of fuel, and it was qualified under international standards by the Peten High Flux Reactor (HFR) in the Netherlands, within the framework of a contract signed by CCHEN, NRG (Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group) and the IAEA. CCHEN also participated in two international tenders for the supply of MTR-type fuel elements, by invitation of the IAEA and its Technical Cooperation elements.

Spent Fuel Management

Previously, Chilean spent fuel was transported to the USA after cooling in the reactor’s pool. A total of 129 high-enriched fuel elements (40 elements of 45% 235U, 58 of 80% 235U, and 31 of 90% 235U) fabricated in the United Kingdom and France were shipped as part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, promoted by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Fuel elements currently in use in the research reactor (RECH-1) are low-enriched and fabricated from Russian uranium, US uranium and Chinese uranium on-site, in the Fuel Element Plant (PEC), from CCHEN. Spent fuel is stored in situ in RECH-1 pools, which have enough capacity to store spent fuel for at least 30 years. The final disposal of these elements will be in Chile, and there are no plans for spent fuel reprocessing. Chile asked the IAEA for support and has participated in technical cooperation projects aimed at defining a generic methodology to manage spent fuel elements. Chile is currently working on the conceptual design of interim dry storage containers for the MTR spent fuel.

Moreover, during 2016, CCHEN, with the support of IAEA’s experts, drafted the Policy and Strategy for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, which establishes the principles and requirements for the safe management of radioactive waste, including the spent fuel, and defines the national roles and responsibilities. Currently, the document is in the review process.

Additionally, CCHEN worked with the Swedish company SKB, studying copper’s resistance to corrosion and its use as a material for high level containers. In order to do this, studies aimed at determining copper’s corrosion rate were developed, simulating the real environmental conditions undergone by containers in repositories, including temperature, sulfide content, water chemistry and especially salinity.


2.8.1. R&D organizations

The objectives of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission, its scope and competences are duly defined by law, decree law, supreme decree and decree with force of law. This documentation establishes that the institution must fulfill the roles of:

  1. Regulatory body and inspector of the country’s nuclear and radiological activity;

  2. Supreme government advisor in nuclear and radiological matters;

  3. Generator of technology based products and services focused on the well being and security of persons and protection of the environment and goods;

  4. Generation of knowledge through basic and applied research to support the processes of innovation of companies and economic agents.

To achieve these roles, specifically numbers 2, 3 and 4, the institution has in its organization, among others, the Nuclear Applications and Research Division (DIAN). This division is responsible for: (i) research and development activities, (ii) research and development management, (iii) nuclear science and technology outreach, and (iv) intangible assets creation and transference.

2.8.2. Development of advanced nuclear technologies

Development in the manufacturing of fuel elements for use in the research reactor (RECH-1) represents a major step in the progress of nuclear technology in Chile. In addition to contributing to technological development, it has led to savings in foreign currency by making Chile self-sufficient in this area. The technology to manufacture annular targets with low-enriched uranium for obtaining 99mTc radioisotope (from the production of fission molybdenum) is also available for transference. These developments strengthened Chile’s request for participation in the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2015.

In terms of basic research, major progress was achieved by the Department of Nuclear Science, Plasma Physics and Nuclear Fusion Laboratory in CCHEN. It began operating towards the end of 1993 and its current line of work is centred on plasma physics in pulsed small devices such as z-pinch, wires array, capillary discharges and plasma focus devices, in which basic science problems in plasma physics that are of relevance to nuclear fusion are studied, such as dynamics and stability, and radiation and particles emission from dense plasmas produced by electrical discharges.

At the same time, the study and development of technologies associated with a field of research referred to as pulsed power are being promoted. These technologies have applications in several fields of science and engineering, such as production of transient electronic discharges, generation of radiation and bundles of ions, high density matter, production of intense pulsating magnetic fields and shock waves. Recently, the axial plasma shock and plasma jets produced later in the plasma focus discharge process have been preliminarily characterized. On the one hand, plasma shock produced an equivalent damage factor on materials than that expected in large nuclear fusion experimental devices such as ITER and IFE. Thus, the use of small plasma focus being used to study the effects of high power flux on materials relevant to fusion reactors. On the other hand, plasma jets could be useful for astrophysical laboratory studies. In addition, the effects of pulsed radiation in biological cells is being studied.

Complementary to this, research using continuous plasmas has started. A plasma torch for studies in biology, material science and waste treatment has been designed and built.

Several plasma diagnostics and radiation detection techniques are being implemented to perform the research, such as electrical diagnostics, detection of neutrons, ion beams, spectroscopy and digital optical refractive diagnostics.

Theoretical studies in non-thermal equilibrium plasmas have started recently.

In addition, outreach activities to the general public and students are a permanent effort of the Department of Nuclear Sciences of CCHEN. Videos that are widely seen on YouTube have been created:

The Department of Nuclear Science maintains international collaborations with groups in Argentina, the Czech Republic, India, Spain and the United States of America.

2.8.3. International cooperation and initiatives

Chile seeks to participate actively in international energy organizations, recognizing the importance of international bodies for understanding and regulating Chile’s increasingly interdependent economic and social processes. In this line, closer ties were forged with major players, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), the IAEA, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Chile also participates actively in regional entities that analyse, coordinate and design energy policies, including the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the Energy Experts Group of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Commission for Regional Energy Integration (CIER), the Ibero-American Association of Energy Regulators (ARIAE), and the Mercosur Energy Subgroup. Chile is also a member of APEC’s Energy Working Group.

In the nuclear field, CCHEN’s interaction with external entities, national as well as international, is carried out by the institution’s Technical Cooperation and International Relations Office, which coordinates cooperation within the topic of nuclear energy in the country with direct support from the IAEA. The Technical Cooperation Unit coordinates participation of CCHEN officials and of other national entities in training activities abroad. It also coordinates training in Chile of international trainees, sponsored by the IAEA.

CCHEN also contributes its professionals for participation in congresses and international scientific meetings, where they disseminate information on its current work in the areas of research and development and of peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

Between 2012 and 2016, thanks in part to the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), Chilean professionals participated in 36 interregional projects, 18 of which were sponsored by the ARCAL agreement (Regional Cooperation Agreements for Latin America and the Caribbean), and in 6 national projects.


The Office of Technical Cooperation and International Relations functions as a link between CCHEN and the IAEA.

National institutions that benefit from the IAEA’s technical cooperation program:
CCHEN, Metropolitan Sanitary Works Company, Environmental Health Service, National Environmental Commission, Dirección Nacional de Aguas, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, Trazado Nuclear, Servicio Nacional de Aduanas, Carabineros de Chile, Comisión Nacional de Energía, Ministerio de Salud, Ministerio de Energía, Equipos Marinos BENTOS, Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Trazado Nuclear, Agencia Nacional de Inteligencia, Food Frutas, INTEC, Ministerio de Salud de Coquimbo, CEAZA
Universities: Universidad de Concepción, Universidad de la Frontera, Universidad de La Serena, Universidad Austral de Chile, Universidad Mayor, Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Universidad de Antofagasta, Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Universidad de Tarapacá, Universidad Santo Tomás
Hospitals: José Joaquín Aguirre, San Juan de Dios, Salvador, Clínico Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Posta Central, Hospital Regional de Valdivia, Instituto Nacional del Cáncer, Instituto de Salud Pública, Hospital Van Buren, Hospital de Concepción, Fundación López Pérez, Hospital Regional Antofagasta, Hospital Universidad de Chile, Hospital Regional de Concepción, Hospital Regional de Talca, Servicio de Salud Valdivia, Hospital Base Valdivia
Clinics: Alemana, Instituto de Radiaciones Médicas, Clínica Las Condes, Clínica Santa Maria, MedScan
Since 1976 up to 2011:

117 national projects completed

110 regional and interregional projects completed

Between 2012 and 2016:

4 active national projects
5 completed national projects
8 active INT projects
3 completed INT projects
28 active RLA projects
19 completed RLA projects

* CCHEN–OCTRI Profiles (May 2018).


During the past six years, Chile has focused on bolstering national human resources training by incrementally increasing its capacity building in technology associated with its research reactor and the safe use of nuclear power and other applications. The above is reflected in different regional and interregional courses, networking and knowledge sharing, as well as receiving equipment donated by the IAEA.

At the same time, human resources capacity building is provided through expert missions to Chile, fellowships, scientific visits and special training courses focusing on the safe and effective use of peaceful applications of nuclear energy and nuclear technology.


CCHEN oversees interacting with stakeholders concerned with the country’s nuclear applications. One of its roles is to educate and provide information about nuclear energy uses and the activities of CCHEN, a task carried out by the Corporate Communication Office (CCO). This is usually performed through visits to nuclear and radiological facilities, ‘Open House’ days, public accounts, outreach activities at colleges and universities, spaces for citizen participation and through the corporate web site and social networks. The OCC is also responsible for carrying out the legal and government mandates regarding access to public information, responses to citizen inquiries and the civil society council of CCHEN. Similarly, CCHEN provides communication support to local versions of the IAEA’s regional projects.

Starting in 2017, Chile has been working on developing a new communications plan, identifying the most important actors or stakeholders and the best ways of interacting or engaging with them.


In Chile, the legal framework clearly assigns functions and responsibilities to operators of nuclear and radiological facilities concerning emergency preparedness and response, as well as to response organizations.

The National Civil Protection Plan (NCPP), Law No. 152 (2002), provides the framework for managing all kind of emergencies in Chile, considering a joint command structure, composed of an authority command (minister, governor, or mayor, depending on the scope of the emergency, i.e. national, regional or local); a coordination command, played by the National Emergency Office (ONEMI); and a technical command, played by the technical body more related to the nature of the emergency. Concerning a nuclear or radiological emergency, the technical command is played by the corresponding regulatory authority, that is:

  1. Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN): for nuclear installations and first category radioactive facilities (Chilean designation), i.e. main relevant facilities: teletherapy, gammagraphy, irradiation plants, radioisotope fabrication, nuclear medicine for therapy, etc. Its role as regulatory body was set in the Nuclear Safety Act, Law No. 18.302 (1984). Currently, it is under the Ministry of Energy and requires and approves emergency plans of the facilities and practices under its control. It is also the organization assigned by the Government to act as National Warning Point (NWP) and National Competent Authority (NCA), under the Assistance and Early Notification Conventions.

  2. The Ministry of Health (MoH), through the Regional Health Authority, established by Law No. 19.937 and supported by the Sanitary Code, fulfills the role of regulatory body for second and third category radioactive facilities (Chilean designation), that include industrial sealed sources, Rx for medical and dental use, nuclear medicine for diagnoses, etc.

Both regulatory authorities, CCHEN and MoH, have a regulatory and inspection system in place. Emergency plans are requested for all practices. During regulatory inspections, emergency procedures and exercises are evaluated. Requests from their licensees prompt notification in case of radiological emergencies occurring in their facilities.

The National Emergency Plan was formally approved by Decree N°1434 of the Ministry of Interior and Public Security on 24 June 2017. It is an indicative and general instrument, which establishes the response actions in emergency, disaster and catastrophe situations as well as the roles, functions, capabilities and competencies of the agencies of the National Civil Protection System. Under this plan, the Ministry of Energy was assigned the responsibility to ensure and facilitate the compliance of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission in the prevention of and response to radiological emergencies.

In addition to that, the National Emergency Plan for All Hazardous Materials was also approved by Resolution No. 133 from the National Emergency Office as a complementary instrument and annexed to the National Emergency Plan. It contains the response actions of the National Civil Protection System, including the issuance of alerts, roles and specific functions of organizations, coordination, communication and information, threat zones, general evacuation and assessment of damages and the needs required for response to emergencies of all kinds of hazardous materials, including radioactive materials.

Both plans also recognize the roles of specific organizations, such as first responders, including police (carabineros and investigative police), firefighters and the Emergency Health Service (SAMU), in case of an emergency involving hazardous materials, and specifically addressing radioactive materials.

In addition to the above mentioned new plans, first responders such as carabineros, investigative police, maritime police, firefighters and SAMU have their specific responsibilities established by their respective organizational laws. This also includes the response to any type of emergency in the country, depending on location. Regarding radiological aspects, the plans are concerned with findings, theft, loss, fire and the like of radioactive material, as well as providing protection and health care to those possibly affected in an emergency, acting in coordination with the regulatory authorities.

These specific remaining emergency response activities, applicable to radiological emergencies at the national level, will be included in another protocol. The Commission for Safety and Security in Radiological Emergencies (CONSER) plans to develop this protocol in 2018, following the same structure and format of the other national emergency plans.

CONSER currently acts on the preparedness phase at the national level, where a national coordination mechanism is in place, led by the Ministry of Interior and Public Security, whose mission is to provide advice and support to the authorities in the strengthening of national capabilities to prevent and respond to nuclear and radiological emergencies and nuclear security events that could affect public security, human health or the environment. CCHEN and the Ministry of Health together act as the Technical Secretariat.

Emergency preparedness categories applicable in the country are not yet defined in the current legislation. But, according to IAEA Safety Standards Series No. GSR Part 7, Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency, the emergency preparedness categories currently applicable in Chile are II, III and IV.

In the case of the two nuclear research centres which exist in Santiago and are owned by CCHEN, arrangements to coordinate the emergency response of off-site organizations with the on-site units have been implemented. At the national level, the support system to provide a response to radiological emergencies or incidents is provided by both regulatory authorities.

In the case of installations regulated by CCHEN, full support is available to control a potential emergency situation through their response team. When an incident or emergency notification is received at CCHEN through a phone call (two numbers are available 24/7), a radiation protection officer is on alert, while OPRA (by its Spanish acronym) provides advice to first responders, local officials or operators of radioactive facilities, initially by phone, or deployed to the field, depending on the situation. If a first category radioactive source is lost, the process of initiating a prompt search is led by CCHEN, in coordination with local authorities, including the issuance of public warnings.

If the emergency notification received at CCHEN corresponds to a practice involving second or third category facilities, the event is communicated immediately to the corresponding Regional Health Authority, and OPRA becomes alert to collaborate if so required by the Health Authority.

Regional Health Authorities have their own emergency numbers, in each region, through which they are notified about incidents or emergencies by first responders, local officials or operators. A similar procedure of issuing public warnings is followed by this authority in case of a lost radioactive source under its control. If the Regional Health Authority considers that they do not have enough resources to resolve a situation, they ask for support from CCHEN.

A notification procedure for radiological incidents, alerting other authorities from the National Civil Protection System through written forms issued by both regulatory authorities is under way, with reports issued at 2 hours from the event and at 24 hours from the event. National legislation allocates responsibilities to national and local authorities in keeping the public informed in the event of any emergency, with action advised by the corresponding regulatory authority, CCHEN or MoH.

CCHEN annually provides training courses and seminars on radiation protection, including response to radiological emergencies to units of police, customs and the fire corps. These training courses have been conducted and organized for about 15 years. CCHEN also provides specific radiation protection training courses to operators and staff of radioactive facilities, including the response to radiological emergencies.

Recently, in the framework of activities developed by CONSER, table top exercises have been developed for most national organizations involved in the response to both radiological emergencies and nuclear security incidents, and field exercises are being planned.



3.1.1. Regulatory authority(ies)

Article 2 of the Nuclear Safety Law (Law No. 18 302) establishes that the regulation, supervision, control and inspection of activities related to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, facilities and nuclear substances correspond to CCHEN and the Ministry of Energy, where appropriate. Article 4 of the same law indicates that for siting, construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the facilities, plants, centres, laboratories, establishments and nuclear equipment, the authorization of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission will be needed. On the other hand, nuclear power stations, enrichment plants, reprocessing plants and facilities for radioactive waste disposal will be authorized by supreme decree issued by the Ministry of Energy.

According to Article 67 of the Nuclear Safety Law (Law No. 18 302) the authorities on radiation protection are the following:

  • CCHEN in its own facilities and those relevant installations defined in Supreme Decree No. 133/84;

  • The Ministry of Health through its regional offices for lower risk facilities as defined in the same decree.

As part of the studies related to the decision to launch an NPP in Chile, the independence of the regulator is considered a key issue. Two draft laws have been submitted to the authority, one related to improving the current nuclear safety framework and the other proposing the separation of the promotion roles from the regulatory one that either CCHEN and/or MoH hold at present. This new situation might be reflected in a unique and effective independent Regulatory Council of Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Physical Protection.

3.1.2. Licensing process

Nuclear Power

Chilean regulations do not establish a procedure to grant licenses, other than the fact mentioned in the Nuclear Safety Law that nuclear facilities require a site, construction, commissioning, operations and a decommissioning licence.

Nuclear Research Facilities

The Nuclear Safety Law establishes that nuclear facilities require a site, construction, commissioning, operations and a decommissioning licence. CCHEN internal standards are applied. These standards are currently under revision.


The hierarchical status of the legal documents in Chile is as follows:

1) National Constitution: Approved by the National Congress by qualified quorum.

2) Constitutional Laws: Approved by the National Congress by qualified quorum.

3) Laws: Approved by the National Congress by simple majority and with power over the other legal national instruments (except over the National Constitution and constitutional laws).

4) Decree Laws(7): Approved by the Executive. They are issued when the National Congress delegates to the Executive the faculty to regulate matters that have to be included in a law (that should be issued by the National Congress). This faculty is given by the National Congress through a law. They have the same power as a law.

5) Supreme Decrees: Approved by the Executive. They are proposed by the Ministries. Usually, the National Congress, through a law, designates the Ministry that has to propose this type of instrument. They have less power than a law or a decree law.

6) Norms: Issued by the regulatory authority.

3.2.1. Main national laws

The legislative framework applicable to nuclear facilities in Chile is defined by the following laws:

  1. LAW No. 18 302 — NUCLEAR SAFETY LAW, published in the Official Gazette No. 31 860 of 2 May 1984. This law consists of six titles:

    1. TITLE I — REGULATORY AUTHORITY, in which the different regulatory bodies and their jurisdictions are defined.


    3. TITLE III — NUCLEAR SAFETY, in which the general approach related to nuclear safety is established, including authorizations and their requirements to operate a nuclear facility.

    4. TITLE IV — INFRACTIONS TO THE LEGAL AND REGULATION REQUIREMENTS ON PROTECTION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY, which establishes the sanctions that can be applied in case of non-compliance.

    5. TITLE V — CIVIL RESPONSIBILITY FOR NUCLEAR DAMAGE, which establishes the amount and the modes of insurance to cover nuclear damage.

    6. TITLE VI — RADIOACTIVE FACILITIES, which establishes the competent authority for the control of radioactive facilities and the responsibility for preparing the associated rules applicable to these facilities.

  2. LAW No. 18 730 — MODIFIES THE NUCLEAR SAFETY LAW, published in the Official Gazette No. 33 143 of 10 August 1988. This law only modifies Title VI of the previous law with regard to the competent authority for the control of the radioactive facilities. CCHEN is incorporated as the competent authority for the control of the facilities, as established in Decree Law No. 133.

  3. LAW No. 19 825 — MODIFIES THE NUCLEAR SAFETY LAW, published in the Official Gazette of 1 October 2002. This law mainly modifies Title III of the previous law with regard to the competence of CCHEN as the competent authority for the control of transportation of radioactive material in or through the exclusive economic zone, ‘presential sea’(8) or national air space.

  4. LAW No. 20 402 — MODIFIES THE NUCLEAR SAFETY LAW, published in the Official Gazette of 1 February 2010. This law mainly modifies the dependence of CCHEN from the Ministry of Mining to the Ministry of Energy.

  5. LAW No. 19 300 — LAW ON ENVIRONMENT, GENERAL BASES, published in the Official Gazette of 9 April 1994. This law consists of six titles, that is:







  6. LAW No. 20 417 — MODIFIES THE LAW ON ENVIRONMENT, GENERAL BASES, published in the Official Gazette of 26 January 2010. This law primarily creates the Ministry of Environment, which replaces the National Environmental Commission.

3.2.2. Main national regulations

The legislative framework applicable to nuclear facilities in Chile is defined by the following regulations:

  1. SUPREME DECREE No. 87/84 — REGULATION ON PHYSICAL PROTECTION OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL AND FACILITIES, published in the Official Gazette No. 32 117 of 9 March 1984. It is based on IAEA document INFCIRC/225.

  2. SUPREME DECREE No. 133/84 — REGULATIONS ON AUTHORIZATIONS FOR RADIOACTIVE FACILITIES OR IONIZING RADIATION GENERATING EQUIPMENT, PERSONNEL OPERATING SUCH EQUIPMENT AND OTHER RELATED ACTIVITIES, published in the Official Gazette No. 31 955 of 23 August 1984. This ordinance categorizes the different radioactive facilities according to the associated risk of practice, the required authorizations and the associated requirements of both facilities and workers; it includes the import, export and transportation of radioactive material, as well as the way to apply sanctions.

  3. SUPREME DECREE No. 3/85 — REGULATION ON RADIATION PROTECTION OF RADIOACTIVE FACILITIES, published in the Official Gazette No. 32 153 of 3 January 1985. This establishes the limits of acceptable dosage and requirements for the Services of Personal Dosimetry, laid down in the country.

  4. SUPREME DECREE No. 12/85 — REGULATION FOR THE SAFE TRANSPORT OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL, published in the Official Gazette No. 32 192 of 10 June 1985. It is a transcription of the 1985 version of IAEA Safety Standards Series No. SSR-6, Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material.

  5. SUPREME DECREE No. 95/01 — REGULATION ON ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT SYSTEM, published in the Official Gazette of 7 December 2002.

3.2.3. Standards

The technical requirements for nuclear research reactors are established in standards approved by CCHEN. The regulatory position in the case of technical matters not defined in national regulations, including the case of nuclear facilities, is to adopt the IAEA recommendations or the regulations of the supplier’s country, if no specific guidance appears in the IAEA documents.

CCHEN Safety Standards

  1. NCS-DR-01 “Radioactive Waste Management”

  2. NCS-GG-02 “Procedure for Licensing Nuclear and Radioactive Facilities”

  3. NCS-GG-04 “Specific Safety Procedures”

  4. NCS-PM-01 “Calibration of Radiation Detection Devices”

  5. NCS-PP-01 “Radioactive Facilities Operator Licensing”

  6. NCS-PP-02 “Nuclear Research Reactor Operator Licensing”

  7. NCS-PR-01 “Radiation Protection Standards”

  8. NCS-SI-01 “Occupational Health”

  9. NCS-SV-01 “System of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material”

  10. NCS-TR-01 “Nuclear and Radioactive Material Transportation Licensing”

CCHEN Regulatory Guides

  1. GR-C-01 “Design Criteria for Structures of Nuclear Research Facilities”

  2. GR-E-01 “Design Criteria for Electrical Systems of Nuclear Research Facilities”

  3. GR-G-02 “Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Criteria”

  4. GR-G-03 “Nuclear Research Reactor Safety Reports”

  5. GR-G-08 “Nuclear Research Facilities Emergency Planning”

  6. GR-G-09 “Nuclear Research Facilities Commissioning”

  7. GR-G-10 “Quality Assurance for Commissioning and Operation of Nuclear Research Facilities”

  8. GR-G-11 “Nuclear Research Reactor Operation”

  9. GR-G-13 “Periodic Inspection of Nuclear Research Facilities”

  10. GR-G-14 “Organization and Procedures of Nuclear Research Reactors”

  11. GR-G-15 “Radiation Protection for Nuclear and Radioactive Facilities”

  12. GR-M-01 “Design Criteria for Hydraulic Systems of Nuclear Research Reactors”

  13. GR-N-01 “Design Criteria of Pool-type Nuclear Research Reactor Core”

  14. GR-P-01 “Radiation Protection Design Considerations of Nuclear Research Facilities”


Chile’s Energy Agenda:

Chile’s Energy Policy:


The Chilean Government, through the existent legal and normative structure in the country, has demonstrated its concern and interest, which has been ratified with the subscription and ratification of the following conventions:

  1. Decree Law No. 272/97 — Promulgates the Convention on Nuclear Safety. Issued on 3 June 1997.

  2. Supreme Decree No. 381/05 — Promulgates the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident. Issued on 25 April 2006.

  3. Supreme Decree No. 8/04 — Promulgates the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. Issued on 12 April 2005.

  4. Supreme Decree No. 18/90 — Promulgates the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. Issued on 8 March 1990.

  5. Supreme Decree No. 1212/94 — Promulgates the Joint Protocol Relating to the Application of the Vienna Convention and the Paris Convention. Issued on 3 January 1994.

  6. Supreme Decree No. 709/84 — Promulgates the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (the Tlatelolco Treaty). Issued on 14 December 1974.

  7. Supreme Decree No. 132/94 — Promulgates Amendments to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (the Tlatelolco Treaty). Issued on 26 April 1994.

  8. Supreme Decree No. 1121/94 — Promulgates the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Issued on 17 October 1994.

  9. Supreme Decree No. 797/95 — Promulgates the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Issued on 25 September 1995.

  10. Supreme Decree No. 17/04 — Promulgates the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement. Issued on 20 March 2004.

  11. Supreme Decree No. 148/12 — Promulgates the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management Acceptance Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection on Nuclear Material. 2009-03-12, Cooperation Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL). Signature 1998-09-25. Ratification 2005-11-15.


  1. Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources;

  2. Supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources;

  3. Code of Conduct on the Safety of Research Reactors.

Arrangements are generally in place for liaison with relevant regional and international groups and organizations such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Chile has expressed support for the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, as well as for the Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources (i.e. administrative arrangements between CCHEN and the Canadian Safety Nuclear Commission).



Name: Comisión Chilena de Energía Nuclear (Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission) — CCHEN Address: Amunátegui 95, Santiago Centro, Santiago, Chile Tel.: (+56-2) 470 2500

Fax: (+56-2) 470 2570

Web site:

Names of report coordinators:

Bárbara Nagel

Gustavo Ribbeck (2nd coordinator)


Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN)


Tel.: (+56-2) 236 46217

Fax: (+56-2) 236 46181


(1) International Energy Agency (2009a).

(2) By making legal and regulatory changes, creating tax incentives, eliminating barriers to this technology and adjusting the institutional framework (by creating the Renewable Energy Division within the Ministry of Energy as well as the Center for Renewable Energy).

(3) Through a massive increase in the budgets for different measures, legal and regulatory changes, tax incentives and adjustments to the institutional framework by creating the Energy Efficiency Division in the Ministry of Energy and Energy Efficiency Agency.

(4) The act was modified in 2015 in Law N°20.805, which improved the system of electricity supply bids for clients under price regulations.

(5) Uranium and thorium.

(6) Zirconium, niobium, titanium, hafnium, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, lithium, heavy water, helium, gadolinium, uranium and thorium.

(7) The Decree Law is a provisional legislative provision issued by the Government in case of “extraordinary and urgent need”, established in the Constitution of the Republic of Chile.

(8) ‘Presential sea’ means the oceanic area between the limit of Chile’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the meridian that, passing through the western side of Easter Island, extends from the parallel of border marker No. 1 through the South Pole.