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14 Jul 2017

Belarus to welcome another IAEA mission before nuclear power plant gets fuel

MINSK, 14 July (BelTA) – Before nuclear fuel is loaded into the nuclear power plant, Belarus will welcome another mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This pre-OSART mission will evaluate the operational safety of the nuclear power plant, BelTA learned from the survey of the state of nuclear and radiation safety in Belarus in 2016.

Before the Belarusian nuclear power plant goes operational, a number of IAEA missions are expected to visit the country. The survey document mentions several of them, which are going to come next. An Emergency Prepared and Review Service (EPREV) mission is scheduled for March 2018. An operational safety review (pre-OSART) mission is expected to arrive in 2018. It is recommended to invite the mission three to six months before nuclear fuel is loaded.

An Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission to evaluate the nuclear infrastructure readiness for the third phase (the commissioning of the nuclear power plant) as part of the nuclear energy program is expected to come to Belarus in 2018.

According to the survey, in October 2016 Belarus welcomed a mission of the IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS). The mission was tasked with evaluating the compliance of Belarus’ regulatory infrastructure and operations with IAEA safety standards. The mission positively evaluated the transformation of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor) taking into account the advancement of the country’s first nuclear energy program. The mission also praised approaches to the strategic planning of regulatory activities and the development of strategic documents by Gosatomnadzor. Belarus’ adherence to the unconditional fulfillment of international commitments in the area of nuclear and radiation safety was also noted.

Two positive practices used in Belarus were mentioned. One is the strong and effective mechanisms for coordinating actions: an interagency commission for coordinating the main steps to build the Belarusian nuclear power plant and oversee their fulfillment and the interministry working group in charge of coordinating the Belarusian nuclear power plant construction oversight. The second practice is approaches to managing the rapid evolution of Gosatomnadzor, innovative mechanisms and practices for building a healthy organizational culture and work with young specialists.

The IRRS mission came up with 25 recommendations and 20 proposals for Belarus with regard to the improvement of the regulatory legal base, licensing and oversight procedures, the development of the system of technical support for the regulatory agency, the organization of public hearings about the most important decisions the regulatory body makes, and other matters.

The mission’s proposals and recommendations coincided a lot with the self-evaluation Belarus carried out before the mission arrived. The recommendations and proposals will be used to form an action plan to improve Belarus’ nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure with a view to keeping the country’s safety standards at a high level and continuously improving them.

The survey has been prepared by the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry in association with the Healthcare Ministry, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The document concludes that in 2016 the radiation situation in Belarus did not change considerably, was determined by artificial and natural sources of ionizing radiation, and can be described as stable.

Near-future tasks are also outlined. Preparations will be taken for the process to license the operation of the first power-generating unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The system to prevent emergencies will be upgraded taking into account the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, including the deployment of a system of emergency response centers. Oversight over the construction of the nuclear power plant, manufacturing and acceptance of equipment will be developed. Preparations will be taken for overseeing the commissioning of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. Other tasks will be taken care of, too.

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