IAEA team reviews NPP site evaluation for Uzbekistan

31 January 2023

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has concluded a five-day mission to Uzbekistan to review safety processes for evaluating the site for its first NPP. The Site & External Events Design Review Service (SEED) mission was carried out at the request of the Uzbek government and hosted by the state agency for the development of nuclear energy, Uzatom.

Uzbekistan is planning to construct the plant in the southeast of the country. In 2017 an agreement was signed with Russia to construct two VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors. In 2019 Uzbekistan initiated the process to select the site and installed a monitoring station for data collection on seismological, hydrological, meteorological and environmental parameters.

The team reviewed site data collection methods and identified external hazards that need to be considered with reference to the construction of the VVER-1200 units. They took into account the conclusions of a previous SEED review mission carried out in 2021.

“The team found that Uzbekistan has carried out an objective and safety-oriented site characterisation process that emphasised the safety of workers, public and environment, in accordance with the IAEA safety standards,” said team leader Ayhan Altinyollar, a Nuclear Safety Officer in the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety & Security.

The mission team comprised five experts from France, Türkiye and the UK, as well as two IAEA staff members. They conducted interviews with senior staff from Uzatom and relevant technical agencies and visited the selected site.

The extent and quality of data collection and site monitoring campaigns were noted by the IAEA team as an excellent basis for site development. “The involvement of all relevant national agencies and competent ministries in the site evaluation guaranteed an effective mission,” said Paolo Contri, Section Head of the IAEA External Events Safety Section.

The team provided Uzatom with recommendations to support the optimisation of the site evaluation process. These included:

  • Reorganising existing data and collect the additional data needed to implement a management system that covers all aspects of site evaluation: work organisation, planning, independent verification and documentation;
  • Identifying and selecting feasible engineering measures to provide plant cooling and site protection from external events, with reference to the specific plant technology selected by the owner and the number of units;
  • Finalising the Preliminary Safety Analysis Report by referencing all recently collected site-specific data, and the site characterisation process report, to ensure well-informed decision making related to construction licensing, investments and safety assessment phases.

“We requested the IAEA SEED mission as an integral part of our development of a nuclear power programme that meets the highest international standards of safety,” said Jakhongir Abdurakhmanov, Head of the Construction Department of Nuclear Facilities at Uzatom. “The IAEA’s recommendations will ensure we implement these standards literally from the ground upwards in siting and constructing our first NPP.” The final mission report will be delivered to the government within three months.

Image: The mission took place upon the the request of the Uzbekistan government (courtesy of IAEA)

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