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Gosatomnadzor responds to Lithuanian parliament's resolution on Belarusian nuclear power plant

25.09.2020

MINSK, 25 September (BelTA) – Due to the Lithuanian parliament's recent resolution on the safety of the Belarusian nuclear power plant the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor) calls for using verified facts and up-to-date information in order to put together documents on nuclear and radiation safety, the agency's press service told BelTA.

Gosatomnadzor pointed out that the agency controls the fulfillment of nuclear and radiation safety requirements in the course of construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant 24/7. A Gosatomnadzor regional office works at the construction site. Apart from that, the Belarusian nuclear power plant is subjected to comprehensive inspections and focused inspections, in which personnel of Gosatomnadzor's central office participate (58 employees are authorized to carry out such inspections) and foreign specialists are employed as consultants.

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Nuclear power plant safety requirements disallow going to the next stage of the process of commissioning of a nuclear power plant unit without an inspection to check the nuclear power plant's ability to do the specified activities. In H1 2020 the Belarusian nuclear power plant was subjected to 34 inspections and checks, including 13 focused inspections. In H2 2020 focused inspections were arranged to check the Belarusian nuclear power plant's readiness for loading nuclear fuel into the first reactor and for performing hydraulic testing of the first reactor. A focused inspection is in progress now to check the Belarusian nuclear power plant's readiness to operate the first unit at critical levels and carry out physical experiments with the reactor operating at minimal output levels.

The loading of nuclear fuel into the first reactor of the Belarusian nuclear power plant began after the operating company received the relevant permit (a license). Gosatomnadzor stated it had issued the permit on its own website and in mass media. The International Atomic Energy Agency and competent authorities of the countries Belarus has signed the relevant bilateral agreements with were duly notified that the loading of nuclear fuel had begun. Lithuania was also notified about it within the framework of the agreement between the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry and the State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) of Lithuania on promptly sharing reports about nuclear accidents and information about nuclear plants and nuclear activities.

Gosatomnadzor stressed that Belarusian legislation on nuclear and radiation safety relies on modern safety standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency and is constantly improved bearing in mind the IAEA's documents. For example, the procedure for licensing stages of commissioning of units of the Belarusian nuclear power plant was changed in 2020 due to the Licensing the First Nuclear Power Plant report (INSAG-26) released by the IAEA's International Nuclear Safety Group. Gosatomnadzor published a detailed comment about the matter on its own website and also publicly explained the new licensing procedure for interested parties, including mass media and the general public.

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Belarus voluntarily requests and has welcomed a number of International Atomic Energy Agency missions, including Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions in 2012 and 2020, an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission in 2016, a Site and External Events Design Review Service (SEED) mission in 2017, an Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) Service mission in 2018, a State Systems of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material (ISSAS) mission in 2019, and an Operational Safety Review (pre-OSART) mission in 2019.

The recommendations Belarus received as a result of these missions are being routinely implemented. The next mission – an International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission – has been requested by Belarus and will take place in 2021.

The implementation of the IAEA's and the European Union's international technical aid projects in Belarus also help constantly improve the state of affairs in the area of nuclear and radiation safety.

Gosatomnadzor actively cooperates with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG). Belarus voluntarily arranged stress tests of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in line with the European procedure, including a peer review by ENSREG, which ended in 2018. During a summit of the European Union's Eastern Partnership Initiative in July 2020 Belarus voluntarily agreed to a peer review by European experts of the national action plan, which was compiled as a result of the stress tests of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. A number of measures have already been implemented. The sides have reconciled practical guidelines on arranging the peer review, an office discussion of the national action plan by ENSREG experts was arranged, questions of European experts were put together and sent to Gosatomnadzor, three videoconference consultations of European and Belarusian experts were held to clarify ENSREG questions. A team of ENSREG experts is expected to visit Belarus and the Belarusian nuclear power plant construction site in December 2020.

Gosatomnadzor insists that verified facts and up-to-date information should be used in order to prepare official documents on such important matters as nuclear and radiation safety, the agency's press service said.

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