EC calls on Belarus to assess Astravyets NPP's seismic safety, improve accident management
The European Commission is expected to publish on Wednesday a stress test review of the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant, under construction in Belarus. According to the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the report revealed quite a number of the projects' drawbacks, and experts from the EU and other countries presented important recommendations on ways to eliminate them and improve the nuclear facility's safety level.
The Peer Review report was on Monday endorsed by the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG).
According to sources, the fact that a thorough seismic safety assessment was not carried out before the design of the Astravyets NPP is mentioned as one of the drawbacks in the report. Moreover, the project has drawbacks related to the loss of safety functions and severe accident management.
The EU recommends that Belarus reviews the assessment of seismic safety at the Astravyets NPP and carries out necessary amendments to the project and equipment modifications, steps up safety of all equipment that needs to operate during a nuclear accident, and assesses the seismic situation in the region.
The report also includes a recommendation to install an alternative emergency power source for the equipment needed to prevent a severe accident and ensure adequate power supply to a special pump which is necessary to cool key parts of the nuclear plant in case of emergency or total loss of power.
Furthermore, the reports recommend that Belarus analyses the reliability of the passive systems, eliminates severe accident risks at spent fuel pools, improves reliability of the cooling system and assesses the cooling system for shelters in case of accidents or total loss of power.
In addition to these recommendations, Belarus should also improve working conditions in the control rooms and draw up a clear and detailed accident management plan and train the power plant's staff.
European experts also recommend that Belarus prepares and implements a plan of measures aimed at improving the nuclear plant's safety, and it should include all additional safety measures provided for in the stress test and EU stress test review reports.
On Tuesday, 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 also expressed its willingness to participate in the review of the implementation of the respective measures of the Action Plan.
Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius told BNS Lithuania on Tuesday that the ENSREG review of the stress tests carried out at the Astravyets NPP is just the beginning of its assessment.
The key question raised by Lithuania and having to do with the choice of the Astravyets NPP construction site was not addressed in the report.
The stress tests were carried out by Atomprojekt, a subsidiary of the project's main contractor Rosatom, in 2016.