Commissioning and operation of Unit 1 of the Belarusian NPP must be suspended until all stress test recommendations have been implemented and other safety issues have been resolved

Date

2021 02 09

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Department of Nuclear and Radiation Safety of the Ministry for Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus (Gosatom-nadzor) representatives, participating in peer review process of Belarusian national action plan (NAcP) on implementation of stress tests’ recommendations, further maintains that the stress tests did not identify any safety deficits of the NPP. In our opinion, such approach is irresponsible and should be not tolerated.

It is important to note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has assessed the lessons learned from Fukushima nuclear power plant accident by nuclear power developing countries, including performed stress tests in Europe, and has gradually updated all safety standards setting general and specific safety requirements for nuclear power plant design and operation. Therefore, Belarus's view that the recommendations made during the stress tests are additional requirements and do not need to be taken into account when making decisions on the commissioning and operation of the Belarusian NPP, is incorrect.

The ongoing international review of the Belarus NAcP reveals that even in more than 2 years after the expert recommendations were issued, most of the recommendations − 21 out of 29 (not even all of which are included into the Belarus NAcP) − have not been implemented. On implementation of 8 recommendations, which are said to have been at least partly implemented, European experts could make final decision only once they have received additional information. All remaining unimplemented recommendations are equally important and must be implemented immediately − we call for action to complete a probabilistic seismic impact assessment and a safety analysis for all structures, systems and components to withstand design basis or beyond design basis earthquake with the aim to demonstrate the performance of their assigned safety functions. It is particularly important that specific safety measures to strengthen the robustness of the Belarusian NPP design to extreme seismic events, to upgrade the fire-fighting system, which is not resistant to seismic events, also to demonstrate robustness of safety related buildings with respect to water ingress (for instance, in the case of heavy rain), to ensure reliability of power supply in design extension conditions, the efficiency and reliability of the passive safety systems, readiness of operational procedures for extreme weather conditions and other measures.

VATESI reminds that so far Belarus has not solved other safety issues raised by Lithuania since the beginning of the Belarusian NPP project, such as site selection and assessment, Belarusian NPP design robustness against crash of large civil airplane, probabilistic safety assessment and other safety issues.

As the implementation of the stress tests recommendations continues to be avoided and the Belarusian NPP is close to the EU border near densely populated areas, we call on the Belarusian authorities to implement all the recommendations without delay. Without delay means that the commissioning and operation of Unit 1 of the nuclear power plant must be suspended until all safety issues have been resolved.

 

State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate information