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National report on Belarusian nuclear power plant stress tests compliant with EU requirements

MINSK, 9 August (BelTA) – The national report resulting from the stress tests of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is compliant with requirements of the European Union. The statement was made by Mark Foy, head of the group of European experts in charge of reviewing results of these stress tests, BelTA has learned.

Mark Foy said: “If we talk about the conclusion we’ve made, the group of experts concludes that Belarus’ national report meets the European Union’s requirements for stress tests on the whole. Let me remind you that 460 written questions were sent to Belarus [as part of the peer review process]. It is a large number of questions. They had to be answered within a very short period of time. Initially we requested answers only to questions submitted by the group of experts but the [Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry] Gosatomnadzor gave answers to all the questions. Some of them went beyond the topic of the stress tests.” The group of experts also stated that Gosatomnadzor had also given answers to verbal questions.

The experts confirmed that the design of the nuclear power plant Belarus is building is a design featuring an improved VVER-type reactor.

Recommendations were given as a result of the peer review process. The European experts believe it is important to consider and act on the recommendations. The recommendations are supposed to be added to the national plan on enhancing the safety of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The national plan is supposed to be constantly renewed in the future.

According to Mark Foy, the recommendations determine the adequacy of safety borders for various accidents at the nuclear power plant and the installation of some auxiliary equipment. In particular, the experts recommend ensuring adequate safety borders for seismic events. The group of experts also noted that some safety aspects, particularly safety aspects of conditions beyond the design basis, need some corrections and improvements.

Apart from that, several positive practices inherent in the implementation of the Belarusian nuclear power plant project were noted. Passive safeguards were mentioned as well as the core catcher, measures to prevent and manage severe accidents at the nuclear power plant. The national report’s analysis of various critical situations was mentioned positively as well as the operation of the education and training center with a full-scale simulator, the availability of a well-equipped fire station.

BelTA reported earlier that in 2016 Belarus voluntarily stress tested its nuclear power plant taking into account specifications of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG). The national report on results of the stress tests was forwarded to the European Commission and made available to the general public online in 2017. The main conclusion is the Belarusian nuclear power plant is resilient to events of the kind that befell the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011. A group of 17 experts representing nuclear and radiation safety regulatory agencies visited Belarus in March 2018 upon ENSREG’s authorization as part of the peer review process. The group also included representatives of the European Commission. Representatives of the IAEA, Russia, and Iran acted as observers.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built using the Russian standard Generation III+ design AES-2006 near Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast. The first power-generating unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2019, with the second one to go online in 2020.