IAEA completes regulatory review in Slovenia

19 April 2022

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission has found that Slovenia is continuously working to further strengthen its mature nuclear and radiation safety framework. This includes holding emergency exercises with cyber security scenarios. The IAEA team said the Government should consider allotting sufficient funding and human resources to the regulators to guarantee their sustained independence and performance.

The mission was requested by the Government and was hosted by the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration (SNSA) and the Slovenia Radiation Protection Authority (SRPA) which regulates radiation safety in medicine and veterinary practices.

The 17-person team, led by Cantemir Ciurea, President of Romania’s nuclear safety regulator (CNCAN), included experts from Brazil, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Pakistan, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as three IAEA staff.

Ciurea highlighted Slovenia’s emergency exercises using cyber security scenarios as a world-leading example of   nuclear safety, adding that “such scenarios are at the interface between nuclear safety and security and being prepared for these emergencies demonstrates a mature framework for emergency response”.

The IRRS team determined that it was vital for the Slovenian Government to make appropriate provisions and improve allocated resources to ensure that the independence of SNSA and SRPA is sustained so that they can effectively fulfil their mandates.

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 recognizing the responsibility of each country to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.

The mission reviewed the regulatory framework for all civilian facilities and activities using nuclear material and radiation. Slovenia. has one NPP at Krško, which is co-owned by neighbouring Croatia and provides almost 40% of Slovenia’s electricity. In addition, Slovenia has one research reactor, a radioactive waste facility and uses radiation in industry, research and education applications.

As well as interviews and discussions with the SNSA and SRPA, the IRRS team met with the Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning and the Minister of Health. The experts inspected the Krško NPP, the Jožef Stefan Research Institute, the Institute of Oncology Ljubljana and the Vrbina waste management facility.

Anna Hajduk Bradford, Director of the IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety Division, complimented Slovenia for being among a small number of countries that have started the second cycle of IRRS missions. Slovenia hosted an initial IRRS mission in 2011 and a follow-up mission in 2014.

The review team’s report highlighted the positive steps Slovenia has taken to improve the nuclear regulatory framework, including:

  • SNSA’s initiative to develop written instructions for licensees on how to participate in successful and effective remote inspections at an early stage of the pandemic.
  • SNSA’s web portal, which provides on-line dose rate monitoring results and nuclide specific results from environmental samples to the public.
  • The establishment of a national protection strategy for nuclear and radiological emergencies, which was developed in line with IAEA emergency preparedness and response guidance.

The team also suggested how the government and the regulators can strengthen the regulatory framework in the coming years, including by:

  • Providing sufficient funding and human resources for both SNSA and SRPA to fulfil their responsibilities.
  • Improving coordination between all relevant competent authorities responsible for nuclear and radiation safety and nuclear security.
  • Developing guidance for licensees on the use of authorisation request documents.
  • Improving training of inspectors to cover principles, concepts and technological aspects of safety inspections and on procedures for inspecting facilities and activities.
  • Developing communication strategies and plans to ensure the stakeholders are informed about their work.

“We are committed to implement all findings of the mission in the next few years to further improve our safety framework,” said SNSA Director Igor Sirc. “This will strengthen nuclear and radiation safety in Slovenia and make the regulatory body more efficient and resilient to external influences” said Damijan Škrk, Director, SRPA.

The mission will be followed by an IAEA Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) mission scheduled for 22 May, which will assess radioactive waste and used fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes. The final IRRS mission report will be provided to the Government in about three months.

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