The Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) on 25 August approved the Paks II NPP's physical protection permit application and the Physical Protection Plan of the future facility. The Paks-II NPP project is being implemented on the basis of the Russian-Hungarian inter-governmental agreement signed in 2014. Hungary selected Rosatom, without a tender, to build two VVER-1200 reactors at the Paks NPP for €12.5bn ($14.9bn). The general contractor is Rosatom’s engineering company ASE EC. The turbine island equipment is being supplied by GE, and the automated process control system (APCS) is being supplied by a consortium of Framatome and Siemens.

Construction was to start in 2017, but a protracted European Commission (EC) probe and lengthy examinations by local authorities concerning safety delayed the project. The agreement had set 2023 as the deadline for unit 1 to become operational but this has now been postponed to at least 2029. The current Paks plant comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurised water reactors, which began operation between 1982 and 1987.

During the approval procedure, the HAEA, with the support of several experts and the involvement of the National Police Headquarters, examined whether the planned Physical Protection System of the new NPP units and the Physical Protection Plan describing it complied with legal requirements and professional requirements. The provisions of the Physical Protection Plan were also compared with the documents of the application for a construction permit. In June, the authorities inspected and assessed the planned location of the main buildings and systems of the Physical Protection System at the Paks site.

HAEA said that, in the approved Physical Protection Plan, Paks II demonstrated, in accordance with the project life cycle, the procedures and technical solutions for the protection of used and stored nuclear and other radioactive materials and radiologically relevant systems and components against unlawful theft and sabotage, including threats from global cyberspace, in subsequent operations.

The HAEA permit is valid for 5 years, so Paks II must review its Physical Protection System in 2026 at the latest. In addition to monitoring the development of the Physical Protection System, the HAEA continuously monitors how the construction processes affect the physical protection of the operating units of the Paks NPP.

In June 2020, an application for the construction licence was filed with the Hungarian Atomic Authority (OAN), and on 19 November, a permit was obtained from the Hungarian Energy and Utilities Office (MEKH) for the connection of two planned units to the Hungarian power system. Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev said earlier this year that the Hungarian regulator is expected to issue a construction licence this year enabling work to begin in 2022. The EC agreed in April to allow groundwork at the site to start early in 2021 before the permit is awarded. Russia has agreed to extend by five years the credit use period on the loan it granted to Hungary to finance the construction of the Paks-II NPP.