WENRA reports on EU candidates

29 November 2000

The second report on nuclear safety in the seven eastern Europe countries applying to join the EU has been published by the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) which comprises nuclear regulatory bodies of the nine EU countries with nuclear power programmes and Switzerland.

Direct evidence was gathered through meetings with the candidate countries regulatory bodies and plant operators. An ad hoc task force was also established to gather and evaluate additional information on VVER-440/230 reactors.

The status of the regulatory regimes and bodies in the seven prospective EU countries is considered to be in line with western European practice, with the exception of Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovenia. On Bulgaria, WENRA says the present regulatory regime does not provide sufficient indepence to the regulatory body, which also lacks sufficient resources to carry out its responsibilities. In Lithuania, the legal status of Ignalina should be changed so that the operating organisation is given full responsibility and authority for plant safety. More work is needed in Romania to ensure the necessary safety assessment capabilities exist, and to develop the emergency response organisation within the regulatory body and to revise regulatory documents. In Slovenia, nuclear legislation needs to be revised and the budget and financial situation of the regulatory body improved to increase its independence.

In Bulgaria, Kozloduy 1-4 have not reached “an acceptable level of safety”, although improvements have been made. Concern remains about the ability of the confinement system to cope with the failure of the large primary circuit pipework. Units 1 and 2 are scheduled to close before 2003. Units 5 and 6 should reach a level of safety comparable to western European reactors of the same vintage if modernisation programmes are carried out properly.

Extensive modernisation should allow Dukovany 1-4 to attain a safety level comparable to that of western European reactors of the same vintage, the report said. Everything except instrumentation and control modernisation will be completed by 2004.

In Hungary, safety improvements at Paks 1-4 (VVER-440/213) have achieved a safety level comparable to western European reactors of the same vintage. I&C modernisation is under way.

Lithuania’s Ignalina units 1 and 2 have been much improved, but cannot realistically reach a safety level comparable to western European reactors, and unit 1 will be closed by 2005, although the plant’s current financial situation needs to be improved so as not to delay safety improvements.

The main concern at Cernavoda is that of the plant’s financial situation, which it is feared might compromise safety.

Slovenia has recently completed a modernisation programme at its Krsko PWR, and its safety is comparable to plants in western Europe (it is a Westinghouse unit). However, the safety implications of the long-term plant ownership need to be assessed.
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