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8 Oct 2018

Belarus interested in IAEA expert opinion on nuclear power plant safety

Belarus interested in IAEA expert opinion on nuclear power plant safety

MINSK, 8 October (BelTA) – Belarus is interested in the opinion of experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission. Belarusian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Vashchenko made the statement as he met with EPREV mission representatives on 8 October, BelTA has learned.

The official said: “I would like to offer my gratitude for your accepting our invitation and deciding to help us with the construction of the nuclear power plant. When asked why we need the mission, we say that we invite it, first and foremost, for our own sake. We are interested in an objective evaluation of safety measures taken in the course of building the nuclear power plant. We are grateful that in the course of the mission we are getting an objective opinion and recommendations, which help resolve emerging issues. We always see good will and objectivity. Let me repeat once again that getting an objective and qualified expert opinion on what is being done today is the key goal for us in order to ensure the safe construction and safe operation of the nuclear power plant.”

Vladimir Vashchenko noted that before welcoming the mission Belarus evaluated the national radiation emergency preparedness and response system on its own in line with the IAEA’s General Safety Requirements (GSR) Part 7 “Preparedness and response for a nuclear or radiological emergency”. Results of the self-evaluation were submitted to the IAEA information system and forwarded to the experts three months before the mission began. Before the actual mission the experts could get familiar with the state of affairs in the country and the relevant national laws. Within a short period of time a lot of work was done to improve the national system of preparedness and response to nuclear and radiological emergencies in line with the GSR Part 7. The IAEA’s requirements have been fulfilled or have been submitted to the draft documents. The fact is reflected in the self-evaluation results report.

The Belarusian emergencies minister said: “A short while ago results of the so-called stress tests were successfully reviewed by European Union experts. The main purpose of the peer review of the stress tests was to evaluate the resilience of the Belarusian nuclear power plant against unfavorable weather phenomena. The experts mentioned a number of positive practices and the high training and readiness standards in units of the Emergencies Ministry. We’ve been conducting practical exercises to train our personnel since 2010. This is why today we can be confident they are ready for any situations. As for the EPREV mission, it will have to evaluate how we would respond to an emergency, including one possibly caused by extreme weather phenomena.”

The Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will stay in Belarus through 20 October. The delegation includes IAEA Deputy Director General Juan Carlos Lentijo, Head of the IAEA Incident and Emergency Center Elena Buglova, the head of the mission Marina Nizamska, the coordinator Ramon De La Vega, and several experts. Over the course of nearly two weeks the experts are expected to visit the Belarusian nuclear power plant, the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor), the Safe Industrial Practices Department of the Emergencies Ministry (Gospromnadzor), several other organizations of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, the Energy Ministry, the national center for hydrometeorology, radioactive pollution control, and environmental monitoring (Belgidromet), and other organizations.

The IAEA offers accident readiness review services to member states upon request for the sake of evaluating their readiness for nuclear or radiation emergencies. An EPREV mission helps bolster the national potential for responding to emergencies in line with IAEA safety standards.

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