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Deficiencies discovered during IAEA INIR mission in Belarus may cause negative impact on safety of Belarusian NPP

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) Phase 3 mission from 24 February to 4 March 2020 in the Republic of Belarus and recently published the report with 7 recommendations and 6 suggestions.

The mission evaluated the development status in the areas linked to Belarus nuclear infrastructure such as regulatory framework, nuclear safety, radioactive waste management, financial and human resources, nuclear security in order to commission and operate the first nuclear power plant (hereinafter - NPP).

The report emphasizes, that Belarus needs to further develop its legal and regulatory framework of nuclear energy, to assure regulatory body independence in cooperation with technical support organizations, to ensure sufficient funds for decommissioning and radioactive waste management, to allocate responsibility for establishing the radioactive waste management organization, to ensure reliable restart of the grid system in the event of total collapse once the NPP is in operation, to finalize all necessary programmes for starting operation, to ensure long term arrangements for maintenance of Belarusian NPP and to ensure capacity and competence of operating organisation.

Recommendations and suggestions concerning improvement of nuclear energy infrastructure are related to:
-    deficiencies in legal and regulatory framework of nuclear safety;
-    assurance of independence of regulatory body;
-    deficiencies in implementing Integrated Management Systems of  regulatory body and operating organization;
-    ensuring readiness to restart of the grid system in the event of total collapse once the NPP is in operation;
-    assurance of Belarussian  NPP maintenance after the warranty period;
-    deficiencies in the readiness of the physical security system in the operating organization;
-    deficiencies in establishing responsibilities in the area of the radioactive waste management;
-    international obligations (Belarus has not yet joined the Amendment to the Convention of Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and not ratified Protocol Additional  to IAEA for the Application of Safeguards).

In VATESI experts’ opinion, not implementation of recommendations and suggestions, indicated in the report, may cause negative impact on safety of the Belarusian NPP during its commissioning and consequent operation.

It should be noted that the recommendations and suggestions were formulated in accordance with the IAEA safety standards, which are dedicated to the phase of preparation for commissioning of NPPs (in this case, before the start of commissioning of the first power unit and before the issuance of the relevant permit).
Usually after the mission the corresponding state shall prepare a plan for the implementation of the mission's recommendations and proposals, the measures of which must be implemented prior to the issuance of the permit for the commissioning of the power unit.

Unfortunately Belarus has not provided such plan and its implementation results to international community before the start of commissioning of the first power unit of the Belarusian NPP.

Upon request from a Member State, the IAEA also conducts the review missions in particular safety areas – Site and External Events Design Review Service (SEED), Operational Safety Review Team (OSART), Emergency Preparedness Review Service (EPREV) and other, and provides relevant recommendations and suggestions.