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Belarus’ Gosatomnadzor seeks closer cooperation with EU

The department for nuclear and radiation safety of the Emergencies Ministry of Belarus (Gosatomnadzor) aims to intensify cooperation with the EU experts, including Lithuanian ones, Gosatomnadzor head Olga Lugovskaya told an online conference hosted by BelTA on 14 August.

“We are keeping working contacts with Lithuanian counterparts within international projects. In the near future we are going to establish contacts,” the Gosatomnadzor head said. She also commented on possible presence of Lithuanian inspection teams at the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

“It is possible that experts from different countries will be present at the site. Today we are busy developing the international component,” she added.

According to the specialist, last year Belarus hosted the integrated nuclear infrastructure review mission (INIR mission) of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The goal of the mission was to give recommendations on safety infrastructure development. Many of them concerned the regulating body, i.e. Gosatomnadzor. “As for rhe majority of the recommendations, we had a clear understanding we need to do it. It is of great significance for us when such a prestigious international organization says we are moving in the right direction,” Olga Lugovskaya said.

The Gosatomnadzor head stressed that representatives of the department would be present at the Belarusian nuclear power plant even after its launch: “Exploitation is a very important stage. Our specialists will be present on a constant basis. In general, surveillance will be conducted at every stage even when the nuclear station is decommissioned.”

Olga Lugovskaya paid attention to the fact that in 2013 the department underwent cardinal changes. “Divisions that are tasked with nuclear station issues have been expanded. There has been also set up a territorial department: an inspection consisting of 12 experts, nine of whom will stay at the site,” the Gosatomnadzor head said.

License to continue building Belarusian nuclear station by end of August

The license for building the first power-generating unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant may be issued by the end of August. The information was released by Olga Lugovskaya, Head of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry, during the online conference hosted by the BelTA website on 14 August when asked whether the previously published plans to issue the license by 15 August were feasible.

“It is understandable that operations are planned in Belarus, it is a good manner, it is the right thing to do. So 15 August is a date, which is close to reality. At present procedures involved in the first stage of the expert evaluation and the assessment of the potential licensee’s compliance with license requirements are being finished. I think the timeline will be shifted because today is 14 August and tomorrow will be 15 August. I am not ready to specify a date, however, intensive work is in progress. I believe that the decision will be made soon, quite probably by the end of August,” assumed Olga Lugovskaya. The official said that specialists of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department intend to visit the Ostrovets site the next week and discuss topical matters with the construction directorate. She explained that as a regulating body the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department takes part in sessions of the nuclear power plant construction staff, makes remarks and submits proposals.

Olga Lugovskaya stated that the procedure for issuing a license for operations relating to such an important, complicated, unique facility is complex, complicated, science and labor-intensive. In line with the law (decree No. 450 stipulates and regulates such procedures) the evaluation of safety as specified by the documents a potential licensee submits can take up to one year. “In a sense the procedure involves two steps,” specified the official. She noted that the expert evaluation was very thorough. Services of a licensed expert organization have been retained for this work. “In order to get the relevant license, a research institution has to prove it is ready to render these services. For instance, the institution has to have a certain number of experts with certain and very high qualifications,” said the specialist. The United Energy and Nuclear Research Institute Sosny is the agency invited to evaluate the safety of the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

The evaluation of compliance of the potential licensee with legislation requirements is another step (the procedures are simultaneous). “The documents submitted to get the license represent large volumes, thousands of pages. Experts have to work hard to study them, clearly decide, get proof that the suggested technologies are safe and should be used,” said the Head of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry. This procedure began in Belarus at the end of February 2013.

The official pointed out that the Belarusian side had established rather good rapport with the potential licensee, who is doing its best to provide all the papers needed. “It has been specified that if experts have any questions, they may request additional papers such as scientific reports of design organizations. The work is in motion and the construction directorate together with its general contractor – Russian specialists – is providing all these papers on time,” said Olga Lugovskaya. “Moreover, we can work directly with Russian experts, who designed the technical and architectural aspects”. For instance, the specialists have visited Belarus to give detailed explanations, comments, provide correcting notes if necessary in order to dispel any and all doubts of Belarusian experts.

The Belarusian nuclear station’s design stems from the AES-2006 design developed by the Saint Petersburg-based institute Atomenergoproject. The AES-2006 design is now used to build the second Leningrad nuclear power plant and the Baltic nuclear power plant. The power plant will feature two power-generating units with the total capacity of up to 2,400MW. The first power-generating unit is scheduled to go online in 2018.

Belarus’ nuclear safety convention report on IAEA website this week

Detailed information about preparations for and the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant will be disclosed by the national report on the nuclear safety convention that will be published by the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency by the end of the week. The information was released by Olga Lugovskaya, Head of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry, during the online conference hosted by the BelTA website on 14 August.

“The report will be available in Russian and English. Its publication is an obligation that Belarus has undertaken and will undoubtedly fulfill. The report is now being finalized,” she said.

According to the official, the report will dedicate a chapter to the choice of the construction site of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. “I can say that the site is a good one due to many factors, including economic ones. Initially there were 70 sites to choose from. Later on the choice was narrowed down to the Ostrovets site, Kukshinovskaya site, and Krasnopolskaya site. If compared, the three sites fit the bill, with no factors to prohibit the construction of a nuclear power plant. However, due to several parameters the Ostrovets site was chosen as far as geological considerations are concerned, moreover, the rocks over there are more fitting for such construction projects,” noted Olga Lugovskaya.