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Nuclear safety is paramount in the European Union, and even more so when new facilities are being built and operating on the EU borders. The Commission and ENSREG have continually expressed their readiness to work with and support any non EU country to undertake a comprehensive peer review process and this support has been extended to Belarus.
The Peer Review Mission to Belarus took place from 12 to 16 March 2018 and was conducted in a constructive working atmosphere and in line with specifications for EU stress test. This peer review was conducted by a team of 17 experts from EU and non EU Member States including representatives from countries that use nuclear power as well as from those that do not. The team included also 2 representatives from the Commission and 3 observers. During the peer review, the Belarus nuclear regulatory authority provided detailed responses to a number of written questions from the experts.
In the spirit of good neighbourly relations all parties worked together constructively during this peer review with the commitment to increase transparency and improve nuclear safety. The information provided allowed to produce a comprehensive technical evaluation in line with the EU Stress Test scope and ensured an equal treatment for Belarus as regard to other non EU countries which participated to this peer review process in the past.
The Peer Review report, which was presented to the Belarussian authorities in June 2018, has now been endorsed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group. a comprehensive report and detailed recommendations for ensuring nuclear safety in Belarus be published on the ENSREG website together with an executive summary, further to the public event held today in Brussels.
The Commission considers that this outcome is proof of the pragmatic cooperation and problem-solving spirit of the EU with its neighbouring countries including on nuclear safety matters.
The report confirms the adequacy of nuclear safety features as established by the national safety regulator at the time of the license in 2014. It also identifies a number of safety features developed since then. In addition, it makes recommendations requiring thorough follow up and continued implementation measures.
The report makes, in particular, an in depth assessment of the plant in relation to:
• Earthquakes, flooding and other extreme weather events:
• Loss of electrical power and ultimate heat sink
• Severe accident management
The Commission calls on the Belarusian authorities to develop a National Action Plan, to ensure timely implementation of all safety improvement measures in accordance with their safety significance.
The Commission expresses its willingness to participate in the review of the implementation of the respective measures of the Action Plan.
The Action Plan should be subject to a future independent review. This was done by all EU and non EU countries which voluntarily participated to the stress test process since Fukushima.
The Commission considers nuclear safety cooperation a central topic in the EU’s partnership with Belarus and will continue discussions on the follow-up to the recommendations.
In 2011 the Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Croatia, Russian Federation, Swiss Confederation, Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, in cooperation with the EU, confirmed their willingness to undertake on a voluntary basis comprehensive risk and safety assessments ('stress tests'), taking into account the specifications agreed by the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) on 24 May 2011.
At that time Belarus was not ready to take directly part to the 2012 EU Stress Tests process like Ukraine and Switzerland did. The European Commission services of DG ENERGY kept since that time regular contact with the Belarus nuclear regulatory authority (Ministry for Emergency Situation (MES) represented by its department Gosatomnadzor (GAN)) to ensure that the peer review process is conducted in Belarus. Since 2013 the Commission supported the regulatory authority GAN with technical assistance focusing on the development of its expertise and independence building through the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation.
In October 2017, the Belarus Ministry for Emergency Situation (MES) represented by its department Gosatomnadzor (GAN) submitted its National Report on Stress Tests for Belarus Nuclear Power Plant to the Directorate-General for Energy of the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) for peer review.
The Peer Review Team and Peer review Board recognise and commend the open and transparent way in which GAN and the licensee sought to address all their comments and questions during the review.
Detailed information on the Belarus Stress Test process and associated documents have been regularly published on the ENSREG website during the peer review process.