Belarusian NPP meets EU stress test requirements

13 August 2018

The national report of Belarus on the results of NPP stress tests complies with the requirements of the European Union (EU), Belta news agency reported on 10 August, citing Mark Foy, head of the group of European experts on partner testing of stress tests at the Belarusian NPP.

Belarus in 2016 voluntarily conducted stress tests taking into account the specifications of the European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (Ensreg). The national report on the results of the tests was sent to the European Commission (EC) and posted on the Internet in 2017. During verification of the stress tests in March 2018, Belarus was visited by an Ensreg-authorised group of 17 experts from various regulatory bodies in the field of nuclear and radiation safety. It also included EC representatives as observers as well as representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russia and Iran. The Belarusian NPP is being built at Ostravets near the Lithuanian border with the assistance of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. It is based on the generation 3+ NPP-2006 project, with unit 1 scheduled to begin operation in 2019 and unit 2 in 2020.

Foy noted that 460 written questions had been sent to Belarus as part of the partner verification procedure. “This is a large number of questions, there was a very short time frame in which to do this.” He added that the Belarus nuclear regulator, Gosatomnadzor (GAN) “has provided answers to all the questions, and some of them went beyond the topic of stress tests." The group of experts also stated that GAN had provided answers not only to written, but also to oral questions.

Based on the results of the peer review, recommendations were made, which the European experts said should be taken into account in the national plan to enhance the safety of the NPP and that the plan should be constantly updated. Foy said the recommendations concerned "determining the adequacy of the security boundaries for various incidents at the station, as well as the installation of some additional equipment”. In particular, it is recommended to ensure the adequacy of the security boundaries defined for seismic incidents. The Expert Group also noted that clarifications and improvements were needed on some safety issues, especially security under design conditions.

Some positive aspects of the Belarusian project were also noted, including the presence of passive safety systems, melt traps, and security measures to prevent and manage severe accidents. The analysis of various critical situations in the national report on stress tests, the work of the training centre with a full-scale simulator, and the availability of a well-equipped fire station were also seen as positive.

GAN head Olga Lugovskaya said: "Gosatomnadzor will consider all the recommendations that were proposed by European colleagues.” She added that the recommendations “were of exceptional value and importance for us, and a lot of work was done.” She confirmed that they would be taken into account when drawing up a national plan of action to enhance the safety of the Belarusian NPP.

GAN expects to sign an agreement with the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety of Lithuania (Vatesi) by the end of 2018, she noted. "In principle, working contacts did not stop and we are in the process of exchanging information with the regulating body of Lithuania." She added: "We hope that by the end of the year there will be great progress with the signing of an agreement between the regulatory authorities of Belarus and Lithuania, which will allow us to communicate more actively within the framework of the agreement." Foy added that Lithuania had actively participated in the peer review process, with a representative on the expert group who was responsible for 115-120 of the 460 questions posed to GAN by the group. 

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