Moscow -- Senior international nuclear safety and radiation protection experts today concluded a 10-day International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to review the regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety at the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia (Rostechnadzor).
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission team said in its preliminary findings that the Russian Federation had made significant progress since an earlier review in 2009. It also identified good practices in the country's nuclear regulatory system.
The review included measures taken following the recommendations and suggestions made by the 2009 mission. In addition, the mission reviewed the role of Rostechnadzor in the national emergency planning and response system and looked at how the Russian regulatory system is using lessons learned from the 2011 accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
The mission found that the immediate response of the Russian regulatory regime to the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi accident had been timely and effective.
Recommendations and suggestions were made to Rostechnadzor and the Russian Government aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the country's regulatory framework and functions in line with IAEA Safety Standards.
Denis Flory, IAEA Deputy Director General and head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, said the conduct of the follow-up mission demonstrated the Russian Federation's commitment to implementing the recommendations of the 2009 mission while also strengthening the Agency's safety standards as called for in the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety.
Ramzi Jammal, mission leader and Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, added: "Rostechnadzor has become an effective independent regulator with a professional staff that works to ensure the protection of the public and the environment. The result of this mission will enable it to further strengthen its regulatory programmes."
Alexey Ferapontov, Acting Chairman of Rostechnadzor, underlined that despite progress done by Rostechnadzor since the initial IRRS mission in 2009, there are areas for continuous improvement, and the IRRS follow-up findings indicated directions for this work.
The 10-member review team from Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Cuba, Finland, Slovakia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as five IAEA staff members, conducted the mission at the request of the Russian Government from 11 November to 19 November 2013.
The main observations of the IRRS Review team included the following:
- There have been improvements to the legal basis for state nuclear safety regulation, with changes made in relevant laws;
- Roztechnadzor's authority and independence as the state body for safety regulation have been increased and its regulatory functions expanded. For example, the restrictions on frequency and duration of the regulatory inspections have been removed; and
- Rostechnadzor's cooperation with other federal authorities involved in the regulatory supervision has been tangibly enhanced.
Good practices identified by the IRRS team included:
- The Russian Federation, through its leadership and collaboration with international stakeholders, has contributed effectively to the development of measures and programmes that may strengthen the global safety regime in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident;
- Rostechnadzor conducts joint nuclear facility inspections with foreign regulatory bodies to share best safety practices and experiences in the field of nuclear power plant supervision; and
- Rostechnadzor has introduced a systematic emergency exercise evaluation methodology and has adopted extensive regulations on licensees' emergency plans.
The mission identified issues in need of attention or improvement, including:
- The salary gaps between the employees of Rostechnadzor and the operating organisations should be reconsidered to improve the capability of Rostechnadzor to recruit and retain competent staff;
- Rostechnadzor should be allocated resources dedicated to assisting and cooperating with regulatory bodies of Member States, particularly those that import Russian nuclear technologies;
- Rostechnadzor should require that operators of fuel-cycle facilities conduct safety re-assessments to identify necessary potential improvements as a follow-up to the Fukushima Daiichi accident;
- License conditions related to the safety assessment and safety case of liquid radioactive waste disposal facilities should be revised, and
- The regulations related to nuclear power plant emergency preparedness and response should be revised in line with IAEA Safety Standards.
The mission team delivered its initial findings to Rostechnadzor. A final report will be submitted in about three months, and Rostechnadzor informed the team that it will make the report public.
The mission included a series of interviews and discussions with staff of Rostechnadzor and other organizations as well as a site visit to the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant to observe an emergency exercise and meet the plant's staff and management.
The Russian Federation has 33 operating nuclear power reactors at 10 sites and four units in permanent shutdown. As of 2012, nuclear contributed about 18 percent to the country's electricity production.
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 both regulatory, technical and policy issues, with comparisons against IAEA safety standards and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere.
The IAEA encourages countries that have hosted initial IRRS missions to invite follow-up missions two to four years after the initial missions.
More information about IRRS missions is available on the IAEA Website.