Prague, Czech Republic -- An international team of senior nuclear safety and radiation protection experts today concluded a 12-day International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to review the regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety in the Czech Republic.
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission team said in its preliminary findings that the Czech regulatory system for nuclear and radiation safety is robust and that the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) is an effective and independent regulatory body.
The review, conducted at the request of the Government of the Czech Republic, identified a series of good practices and made recommendations to help enhance the overall performance of the regulatory system. IRRS missions, which were initiated in 2006, are peer reviews based on the IAEA Safety Standards.
"Our review has confirmed that SÚJB is an effective and independent regulator that benefits from experienced, technically competent and well-motivated staff," said Mission Team Leader Derek Lacey, Deputy Chief Inspector at the United Kingdom's Office for Nuclear Regulation.
The mission team, which conducted the review from 18 to 29 November, comprised 19 senior regulatory experts from 18 IAEA Member States, one observer from the European Commission, and six IAEA staff.
"This review, and the preparation for the review, was a unique opportunity for SÚJB that further motivated our work to improve the safety framework," said SÚJB Chairperson Dana Drabova. "The results of the mission will help us in our work by highlighting which areas need enhancement - this is highly valuable for the future development and reinforcement of Czech regulatory practice."
In line with the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, the mission reviewed how the Czech Republic's regulatory body is using lessons learned from the March 2011 accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. It found that Czech authorities had thoroughly assessed the regulatory implications of the accident and identified and scheduled actions that would further enhance nuclear and radiation safety in the country.
Good practices identified by the IRRS team include the following:
- SÚJB has a high degree of independence: it reports directly to the Cabinet, and has the authority to draft new legislation for the Government and the ability to establish regulations;
- Nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and response are well integrated into the national crisis management infrastructure;
- SÚJB regularly checks the financial status of all licensees of radiation sources, to ensure their obligations are fulfilled, and
- SÚJB has an effective methodology for assessing licensee performance, including the assessment of nuclear power plant operators' safety culture.
The IRRS team identified areas where the overall performance of the regulatory system could be enhanced, including:
- The Government should establish a national policy and strategy for safety to ensure that the Safety Fundamentals are explicitly adopted in a high-level document;
- Requirements for emergency action levels and a hierarchical approach for issuing regulatory requirements, starting with a Nuclear Act and following with regulations and guides, should be established to allow SÚJB to issue regulatory requirements for all areas of nuclear safety for nuclear facilities;
- The SÚJB Integrated Management System needs to be further developed and implemented in the areas of process implementation and safety culture, as well as measurement, assessment and improvement of regulatory effectiveness;
- Threat categorization, national emergency plans and recovery actions should be aligned with IAEA Safety Standards;
- Decrees covering the design requirements for nuclear installations need to be reviewed and revised and associated guides developed; and
- The legislative and regulatory framework for radiation safety should be revised in line with IAEA Safety Standards.
A final report will be submitted to the Government of the Czech Republic in about three months.
The SÚJB told the IRRS mission that it will make the report available to the public.
The IAEA encourages reviewed states to invite a follow-up IRRS mission about two years after the initial mission.
The team reviewed the legal and regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety, addressing all facilities and activities regulated by SÚJB, including six nuclear power units, spent fuel cycle facilities, waste management facilities, a uranium mine, radiation sources in industrial and medical facilities, emergency preparedness and response, transport and decommissioning.
The mission included site visits to observe inspections and an emergency exercise, and interviews and discussions with SÚJB staff.
Team members came from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The Czech Republic has six operating nuclear power reactor units at two sites: four VVER-440/V-213 type units at the Dukovany site and two VVER-1000 type units at the Temelin site. As of 2013, nuclear contributed about one-third of the country's electricity production. Spent fuel from the nuclear power plants and the Prague Technical University research reactor is stored on-site; the selection of sites for a potential high-level waste storage repository is expected by 2015. Low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste originating from the NPPs is stored in a facility at the Dukovany site, while waste from other sources is stored at two other smaller sites.
About IRRS Missions
IRRS missions are designed to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the national nuclear regulatory infrastructure of States, while recognizing the ultimate responsibility of each State to ensure safety in this area.
This is done through consideration of regulatory, technical and policy issues, with comparisons against IAEA Safety Standards and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere.
More information about IRRS missions is available on the IAEA Website.