IAEA Mission Sees Safety Commitment at Belarus NPP Ahead of Commercial Operation

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An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has observed a commitment by the operator of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (NPP) to strengthening safety, ahead of the start of commercial operations of the NPP’s first unit. The team also identified areas for further safety enhancement to assure operational readiness.

The Pre-Operational Safety Review Team (Pre-OSART) concluded an 18-day mission today at the facility in Ostrovets, about 150 km northwest of Minsk, where Belarus is completing construction of its first NPP. The plant comprises two 1194 megawatt-electric units of the Russian VVER technology, with the first unit expected to begin operation next year.

Pre-OSART missions aim to assist nuclear operators in strengthening the operational safety of nuclear power plants. The missions identify areas for safety enhancement by assessing proposed operational programmes against IAEA safety standards and making recommendations where appropriate. The missions do not assess a plant’s overall safety status.

“Constructing a large, modern nuclear power plant designed for 60 years of operation requires senior plant leaders to adopt a sustained commitment to nuclear safety throughout the installation’s lifetime,” said team leader Yury Martynenko, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA. “The Pre-OSART team has observed a commitment by plant management to assure safe and reliable operation. The team has also offered recommendations for further strengthening safety and for timely implementation of operational programmes.”

The 15-member team comprised experts from Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic and the United States of America as well as IAEA officials.

The review covered operational programmes under implementation, including the following areas: leadership and management for safety; training and qualification; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; emergency preparedness and response; accident management; and commissioning.

The team identified a number of good practices that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

  • A reliable alarm system that not only sounds the alarm but can also be used by the plant to give verbal information and instructions to the population in case of radiological and other emergencies.
  • An emergency shelter for the plant Fire Department providing the same level of radiological protection as that used for plant personnel.
  • An integrated display panel in the main control room, specially designed for the management and control of mobile equipment necessary during emergencies.

The mission made several recommendations aimed at strengthening operational safety in a timely manner to assure operational readiness, including:

  • Ensure that all activities related to development and implementation of operational programmes are properly managed.
  • Enhance monitoring and supervision of the commissioning programme, including measures for preventing the potential intrusion of foreign objects into plant systems and components important to safety.
  • Implement an operating experience feedback programme to ensure lessons from internal and external operating experiences are acted upon.

“The Pre-OSART mission is a great opportunity to get top international experts to provide an independent review to help enhance operational safety ahead of the planned start of the new reactor,” said Anatoly Bondar, Chief Engineer of the Belarusian NPP. “The development areas of this OSART assessment will be taken into account as part of our principle of continuous improvement.”

The team provided a draft of its report to plant management. Plant management and the national regulator have an opportunity to make factual comments on the draft, which will be reviewed by the IAEA. The final report will be submitted to the Belarusian Government within three months. The IAEA encourages governments to make OSART reports publicly available.

Plant management said it would address the team’s recommendations and request a follow-up OSART mission in about 18 months.

Background

General information about OSART missions can be found on the IAEA Website. An OSART mission is designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the plant’s overall safety status.

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