Recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) missions have found commitment to safety by France's nuclear safety regulator and the operator of a Norwegian research reactor. The agency, which last week concluded a nuclear security advisory mission to Germany, also said Poland is committed to the safe management of radioactive waste.

France has "significantly strengthened" its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety, an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission has found. The eight-day mission - which concluded on 9 October - was a follow-up to one carried out in 2014.

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, while recognising the responsibility of each member state to ensure nuclear and radiation safety. The missions compare regulatory technical and policy issues with IAEA safety standards and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere. The regulatory review process also draws directly upon the wide-ranging international experience and expertise of the regulatory review team members.

The latest IRRS team found that 14 of the 16 recommendations made by the 2014 mission had been implemented. It said the French nuclear safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), had made significant progress in enhancing its management system and developed policy statements incorporating safety culture aspects in training, self-assessment and management.

However, the mission team said ASN needed to make further efforts to secure sufficient human and financial resources, and to complete regulatory guidance documents.

"ASN should continue focusing on resource management to ensure it is able to meet upcoming challenges, including periodic safety reviews, the life extension of nuclear power plants and new responsibilities such as supply chain oversight and radioactive source security," the IAEA said.

Greg Rzentkowski, director of the IAEA's nuclear installation safety division, said: "The ASN is an effective regulator as evidenced by the findings of the IRRS mission. France is the first country to complete its second cycle of IRRS missions which is a reflection of national commitment to continuous safety improvement."

Norwegian research reactor
Norway's Jeep II research reactor (Image: IFE)

Norway's Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) - operator of the Jeep II research reactor - has showed transparency and continuous commitment to safety, an IAEA Integrated Safety Assessment for Research Reactors (INSARR) mission has concluded.

An IAEA INSARR mission is conducted at the request of an IAEA member state. It is a peer review service that assesses and evaluates the safety of research reactors based on IAEA safety standards.

The 2000 kWt reactor at the Kjeller research centre, about 25km north-east of Oslo, was commissioned in 1967. Its main purposes are basic research in neutron physics, the production of medical and industrial isotopes, and irradiation services and experiments.

A nine-day INSARR mission to assess the safety of the Jeep II reactor concluded on 10 October. The eight-member team said it appreciated the openness and transparency of IFE staff and in particular their efforts in establishing and implementing a national strategy for managing used fuel and radioactive waste, and in developing a decommissioning plan for Jeep II.

"IFE shows a commitment to safety and has initiated several activities to develop and maintain a strong culture of safety," said team leader Amgad Shokr, head of the IAEA's research reactor safety section. "IFE has also made good progress in establishing an effective program for the refurbishment and modernisation of the reactor systems."

He added, "In the meantime, there is a need for further improvements in these areas as well as in those related to training and qualification, safety documentation, operational radiation protection, and operating instructions."

IFE said it will request a follow-up mission by early 2019.

Polish waste and decommissioning

The IAEA concluded a ten-day Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) mission to Poland on 10 October.

ARTEMIS missions provide independent expert opinion and advice, drawn from an international team of specialists convened by the IAEA. Reviews are based on the IAEA safety standards and technical guidance, as well as international good practice.

Poland operates the Maria research reactor and is decommissioning the EWA research reactor, both located at the Swierk site near Otwock. The country has operated the National Radioactive Waste Repository in Różan since 1961.

The ARTEMIS mission team said Poland was committed to the safe management of radioactive waste and used fuel. It also noted areas for potential improvement ahead of its planned introduction of a nuclear power program.

Germany's nuclear security

An IAEA team of experts has also carried out a review of nuclear security in Germany. A two-week International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission was concluded on 6 October. The team visited the Emsland nuclear power plant and the on-site interim used fuel storage facility.

IPPAS missions are intended to help IAEA member states strengthen their national nuclear security regime through peer review advice and IAEA guidance. A team of international experts assesses a nation's physical protection systems, compares it with international best practice and recommends improvements. IPPAS missions are conducted both on a nationwide and facility-specific basis.

The team found that the nuclear security regime in Germany is well established and incorporates the fundamental principles of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical protection of Nuclear Material, which entered into force last year. The team provided recommendations and suggestions to support Germany in enhancing and sustaining nuclear security. A number of good practices were identified that can serve as examples to other IAEA member states to help strengthen their nuclear security activities.

"A strong commitment to nuclear security is a must for any state that uses nuclear energy," said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA deputy director-general and head of its department of nuclear safety and security. "Germany's example in applying IAEA nuclear security guidance and using IAEA advisory services clearly demonstrates its strong commitment to nuclear security and its enhancement."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 13 October 2017
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