Successfully Concluded Three IAEA Missions to Europe

In the last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) carried out several missions to Europe, all positively concluded.

The IAEA staff and international experts visited the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Romania for different kinds of reviews, conducted at the request of national governments and supported by each country’s regulatory body.

An Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) review team concluded a ten-day mission to the Czech Republic on 25 October. The review was carried out at the request of the Czech Government, to support the country’s need to meet EU obligations for independent reviews of national frameworks and programmes for managing radioactive waste and spent fuel.

ARTEMIS reviews provide independent expert assessments, which can cover all aspects and topics related to managing radioactive waste and spent fuel, decommissioning and remediation. Reviews are based on the IAEA Safety Standards, technical guidance, and international good practices.

The ARTEMIS review team, made of six international experts and two IAEA staff members, held extensive discussions with representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Czech Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SÚRAO), the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB), the operator of the NPPs (ČEZ), and the Nuclear Research Institute Řež (ÚJV Řež). The team also visited the Richard facility, where they received briefings on the waste package testing site and the underground caverns holding low and intermediate-level waste.

The team acknowledged the strong commitment of the Government and all involved organizations to ensure the safe management of radioactive waste and concluded that many relevant aspects for the safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel are in place.

The ARTEMIS mission also provided recommendations and suggestions, including:

  • The Government should consider undertaking an in-depth review of the potential impacts on the financing arrangements of an expanded scope and extended duration of the country’s nuclear power programme.
  • The Government should consider undertaking a review of the potential impact of radioactive waste and spent fuel from additional nuclear power reactors which could be included in a future State Energy Policy.
  • SÚRAO should consider further enhancing plans and resources for engagement with interested parties, in particular with potential host communities, to ensure sustained and effective engagement beyond the site selection phase of the DGR.

Read the full IAEA Press Release.

On 10 November, the IAEA concluded an International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) follow-up mission in Switzerland.

The mission, made of eight international experts and one IAEA staff member, was carried out at the request of the Swiss Government and was hosted by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

IPPAS missions are intended to assist States in strengthening their national nuclear security regime. The missions provide peer advice on implementing international instruments, along with IAEA guidance on the protection of nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities.

For the first time, this IPPAS mission covered all five modules of the programme, including the security of radioactive material, associated facilities and associated activities conducted in addition to reviews of the nuclear security regime, nuclear facilities, transport and information and computer security.

The team identified significant progress in addressing the findings of the 2018 mission and observed how the nuclear security regime has been enhanced in Switzerland since then. It was noted that Switzerland has a strong nuclear security regime and is committed to continuous improvement in the security of nuclear and other radioactive materials.

Read the full IAEA Press Release.

On the same day, an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team concluded a twelve-day mission to Romania.

The mission, conducted at the request of the Government of Romania and hosted by the National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN), was made by 16 senior regulatory experts from 15 countries, three IAEA staff members and one observer from the European Commission.

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national regulatory infrastructure while recognizing the responsibility of each country for nuclear and radiation safety.

The team of experts said Romania is committed to maintaining and strengthening its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety. The team commended the Romanian authorities for their effective preparations for the future deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) while recommending improving the coordination amongst Government agencies concerned with radiation source facilities and activities.

The IRRS mission also acknowledged several good practices, like the development of a detailed cooperation protocol between the national regulatory authority for safety and security and the Romanian customs authority to ensure the safe inspection of radioactive packages, or the systematic and holistic approach of CNCAN to address the interface of safety and security in its regulatory oversight programme for NPPs.

Read the full IAEA Press Release.