An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Site and External Events Design Review Service (SEED) team of experts has concluded a seven-day safety review of Sri Lanka’s selection process to identify potential sites to build its first NPP. Sri Lanka is pursuing the introduction of nuclear power to increase its low carbon power production to meet energy demand, tackle climate change and increase energy security. The SEED mission was carried out at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka and hosted by the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board (SLAEB) under the purview of the Ministry of Power and Energy.

The mission reviewed Sri Lanka’s adherence to IAEA guidance on site selection, including exclusion and screening criteria. Sri Lanka has completed the site survey stage and identified six candidate sites from three different regions. The next phase, which is ongoing, includes evaluation, comparison and ranking studies of the candidate sites.

The team comprised of three experts from Canada, Pakistan and Türkiye, as well as one IAEA staff. They reviewed the site survey report, together with the siting process, siting criteria, data collection process and application of the management system for siting activities. The team also visited and observed one of the candidate sites in Pulmoddai, near the Trincomalee region.

“Sri Lanka is comprehensively screening site-specific external hazards in the site selection process, while following the IAEA safety standards and adopting best practices,” said mission team leader Ayhan Altinyollar, an IAEA Nuclear Safety Officer.The team provided recommendations to optimize the site evaluation process to select the most favourable site. In particular, the IAEA team recommended that SLAEB:

  • Further align the siting process to the IAEA Safety Standard Series No. SSG-35, Site Survey and Site Selection for Nuclear Installations; and
  • Collect and incorporate additional site-specific information into the siting process.

As a good practice, the team noted that SLAEB has been conducting collaborative siting studies in an open and transparent manner with stakeholder organizations, such as the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau, Central Environmental Authority and the Department of Geology of University of Peradeniya.

“Sri Lanka has identified nuclear as a clean and green energy source to fulfil the future electricity demand in Sri Lanka,” said Professor Rexy Denzil Rosa, Chairman of SLAEB. “In March 2024, the Cabinet of Ministers made a strategic and knowledgeable commitment towards the country’s nuclear power planning programme. Interpretation and application of IAEA safety standards within the context of site selection for a nuclear power plant is crucial for a strong nuclear power programme in Sri Lanka.”

The team briefed the Secretary of the Ministry of Power & Energy, Sulakshana Jayawardhana, and the Director General of the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau, Ranjith Premasiri, about the review of Sri Lanka’s selection process and findings of the SEED mission.

Sri Lanka also hosted a national workshop on nuclear law in November 2023, as well as an IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission in April 2022, which reviewed the country’s infrastructure development for a nuclear power programme. The final SEED mission report will be delivered to the Government of Sri Lanka within three months.