Bangladesh is committed to continuous improvement of nuclear and radiation safety, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has concluded. The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission team identified areas for possible improvements.

The construction site of the Rooppur nuclear power plant (Image: BAERA)

The IRRS team concluded a 13-day mission to Bangladesh on 8 December, the first IRRS mission to the country. It was conducted at the request of the government of Bangladesh and hosted by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA) to assess Bangladesh's regulatory framework for safety against IAEA safety standards.

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, based on IAEA safety standards and international good practices, while recognising the responsibility of each country to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.

The team, comprising 15 senior regulatory experts from Canada, Egypt, France, India, Japan, Malta, Pakistan, South Africa, the UK and the USA, as well as six IAEA staff members, reviewed the responsibilities and functions of the government and the management and activities of the regulatory body including authorisation, review and assessment, inspection and enforcement, development of regulations and guides, and emergency preparedness and response.

The mission included interviews and discussions with representatives from BAERA and the Ministry of Sciences and Technology. The team visited the BAEC TRIGA Research Reactor, the central radioactive waste processing and storage facility at BAERA, the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Science, the Square Hospital of radiotherapy and Bangladesh Industrial X-Ray, as well as the construction site of the country's first nuclear power plant, Rooppur.

The IRRS team identified a number of areas of good performance of BAERA. These include: seeking technical advice from expert committees to inform regulatory decision making associated with the nuclear power plant; efficient planning and use of resources to conduct multiple inspections of medical facilities during regional visits; and establishing the BAERA Code of Ethics, which provides a clear commitment to an ethical approach in its regulatory activities.

The mission also noted areas where improvements could be made to enhance the national nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure. These include: establishing the national policy and strategy for safety in accordance with the IAEA fundamental safety objective and principles; updating the legal framework for nuclear and radiation safety by commencing revision of the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control Rules, which define the fundamental principles and rules for the protection of workers, the public and the environment; and developing BAERA's human resources plan to ensure that a sufficient number of trained, qualified, competent and certified staff are available to perform all its functions effectively.

"As a country with ambitions for a significant nuclear power programme, it is important that the government of Bangladesh and BAERA work together to deliver the improvements required," said Mark Foy, CEO and Chief Nuclear Inspector at the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation and team leader of the mission. "We had the full support and cooperation of BAERA and all other parties in Bangladesh, and the reviews of regulatory, technical and policy issues were conducted in a constructive and open manner."

"We are pleased to find that our self-assessment effectively pre-empted some of the findings of the mission, which we had incorporated into our action plan," said BAERA Chairman Muzammel Haque. "Now we will focus on further enhancing BAERA's regulatory effectiveness by including the additional IRRS report findings to strengthen our regulatory infrastructure in line with international standards."

Rosatom in February 2011 signed an agreement for two reactors to be built at Rooppur for the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. The initial contract for the project, worth USD12.65 billion, was signed in December 2015. The Rooppur plant, 160 kilometres from the capital Dhaka, will feature two Russian VVER-1200 reactors. Rooppur unit 1 is scheduled to begin operation in 2023, with unit 2 following in 2024.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 16 December 2022
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