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Rostechnadzor to Support Egypt in Licensing Its First NPP

Rostechnadzor is ready to provide comprehensive support to the Egyptian counterparts to expedite the licensing construction procedure for the first NPP in Egypt, as Alexey Ferapontov, deputy chairman of Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service, reports to RIA Novosti.


MOSCOW, Nov 25 – RIA Novosti. Alexey Ferapontov, deputy chairman of Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service, reports to RIA Novosti that Rostechnadzor is ready to provide comprehensive support to the Egyptian counterparts to expedite the construction licensing procedure for the first NPP in Egypt.

On November 19, Russia and Egypt signed the intergovernmental agreement pertaining to the construction of the first NPP in this Arab republic. The nuclear plant will comprise four units 1200 MW each and be built on a site in the area of El Dabaa. The signed agreement captures the parameters of the first Egyptian NPP, which will be constructed on the basis of Russian technology, as well as further development of the nuclear infrastructure in Egypt.

The agreement also states the issues of nuclear fuel supplies to the future NPP, as well as obligations in terms of operation, maintenance and repair of the NPP units. The document also regulates issues of spent fuel management, training of the NPP staff and support in improving the Egyptian national system of codes and standards in the field of atomic energy and nuclear infrastructure.

“The construction activities on the site will begin in 2016. The Egyptian regulator has a very limited time to take all the steps needed for licensing. In Russia, when there is a reference NPP unit, the licensing activities at the siting stage normally take up to one year. We take our licensing decision also on the basis of results of the safety review commissioned by Rostechnadzor to its technical support organizations, particularly Scientific and Engineering Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety”, he said.

The deputy chairman remarked that the Egyptian nuclear and radiological safety agency is quite experienced in operating two research reactors built by the former USSR and Argentina. Besides, the Argentinians erected a fuel fabrication facility for their reactor.

“It’s understood that the country has nuclear medicine that utilizes isotope sources under the supervision of the regulator. But the Egyptians have never been experienced in construction and operation of power reactors, and I should say that an NPP is something that requires a serious infrastructure, becoming a breakthrough for any country. When constructing an NPP designed in Russia, the construction contract implies a sufficiently high level of localization, which means a great deal of involvement of local industry and thousands of new jobs. The regulator will issue a siting license for the first time, and that takes geology specialists, including seismic ones, meteorologists, and so on. We realize that the support that comes fr om Rostechnadzor will be needed not only to enhance the regulatory framework but also to share practical licensing experience”, Ferapontov noted.

The Russian specialists are ready to help their Egyptian partners also at the construction phase supporting their supervision of the quality of site activities and making of the long-cycle equipment.

Rostechnadzor and IAEA

Alexey Ferapontov noted that the IAEA has lately been focused on the issues of nuclear infrastructure development in the newcomer countries. A regulatory authority that is competent and independent in the process of making safety related decisions is a crucial element of such an infrastructure. Rostechnadzor is broadly involved in this area of the Agency’s activity.

“Russia is one of the world’s leading countries with a developed nuclear industry. The country not only utilizes nuclear energy but also actively sells its technology. Rosatom builds NPPs around the globe sharing its technological knowledge with the partners, while Rostechnadzor shares its experience in safety regulation of the operation of the reactors designed in the former Soviet Union and in Russia”, Ferapontov said.

He noted that supervision should take into account the specificities of the industry, the current regulatory standards, the overall state of the economy and even climatic features of the countries wh ere the Russian designs, primarily the VVER reactors, are constructed.

“For instance, we come to Iran with our reactor. Here in Russia we have no dust storms and, correspondingly, no requirements to NPP designs that would address the impact of such a climatic phenomenon. But there are dust storms in Iran, and our Iranian counterparts note, among the other safety criteria for the plant, the need for consideration of dust or sand storms in the design”, the deputy chairman said.

He reminded that the domestic nuclear regulator has cooperated with the Iranian colleagues on the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear plant since the late 1990’s. In fact, the first Iranian NPP was constructed in accordance with the Russian safety requirements.

“The Iranians are going to have more units. They feel the need to rework a number of regulatory documents, also because of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. We started that kind of work in Russia long ago. That is why our Iranian colleagues turned to us for support. Of course, we are helping them create their national regulatory framework which would follow the IAEA recommendations. The government had authorized Rostechnadzor to provide support in the formation of the regulatory bodies of the countries which decide to construct Russian NPP designs, and we’re ready to share our experience and knowledge in full measure”, Ferapontov said.

He also mentioned that in the coming year Rostechnadzor expects to release a new version of the General Provisions of Assuring the Safety of Nuclear Plants (OPB), a high level document that established goals, objectives and key criteria of safety, as well as basic principles and nature of technical and organizational measures towards safety.

“It’s been discussed for the past two and a half years. As we speak, the document is at the concluding stage of finalization. I think it will be released not later than the second quarter of 2016. The OPB address all the latest achievements of science and technology, and are in line with the IAEA recommendations too”, Ferapontov said.

Speaking of the projects the Russian nuclear industry can take pride in, Ferapontov mentioned the recent startup of Rostov 3, which took place two months before the scheduled date thanks to, among all other things, the quality effort of Rostechnadzor divisions and specialists.

He also noted the successful implementation of the federal target programme on nuclear and radiation safety under which the Rosatom enterprises managed to significantly reduce the accumulated nuclear legacy.

“The Rostechnadzor specialists were involved in all the activities under the programme. Our technical support organizations participated in the scientific safety review and research. Rostechnadzor was in charge of licensing support to the projects in all important facilities, particularly the one for liquidation of the uranium graphite reactor at the Siberian Chemical Plant. We took part in addressing the issues of overfilling of the on-site fuel storage facilities and in many other important projects”, Ferapontov explained.

Safety Today

According to the deputy chairman of Rostechnadzor, counterterror measures are in particular focus today.

“We have special requirements to security and account and control of nuclear material. Rostechnadzor has a special department in charge of these issues in a consistent manner, including regular exercises for the inspectors. Rostechnadzor’s experience in this area is in demand at the international level as well. The IAEA often invites the Rostechnadzor staff members to lecture in international training courses on the subject”, Ferapontov noted.