The contractual relationship between the European Commission and the Twinning Program Engineering Group, which represents European nuclear utilities, has ended. Following a highly critical report, produced by the Court of Auditors, on EU efforts to improve reactor safety in Eastern Europe (See NEI, Dec 98 p3), the EC has declared it can no longer continue a contractual relationship with TPEG.

TPEG was formed in 1992 to make expertise within nuclear utilities available to Phare and Tacis nuclear safety programmes. Following the EC decision TPEG has closed down its technical operations and seconded staff have returned to their companies.

TPEG has been involved in On-Site Assistance (OSA) projects at 14 plants in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, providing advice and training on safety issues.

“The utilities have been working under difficult conditions in difficult environments for the past 6 years,” says a TPEG statement. “Relationships and trust are slow to build and the programme is only now beginning to accelerate in its achievements. The utilities do not share the view expressed in the ‘Contzen report’ that the importance of the OSA programme should be reduced.”

The ‘Contzen report’ looks at EU support for nuclear safety activities in Eastern Europe in coming years. Its recomendations include:

• The need to move away from unilateral assistance to effective cooperation and partnership, with a much greater involvement, at all stages of the process, by the beneficiaries of the EU support.

• The desirability for extending the scope of the EU action beyond nuclear power plant safety not only in Russia but in all countries ie to the safety of fuel cycle, radioactive waste management, site decontamination, safeguards, safety of research reactors.

It is the second recomendation which TPEG questions, as it implies a downgrading of OSA efforts.