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IAEA Confirms Russian-Designed NPP Site Safety against External Hazards

The IAEA report, released on the 20th of January, confirmed the Belorussian NPP’s design parameters accounted for site-specific external hazards.

On the 20th of January a team of IAEA experts concluded a five-day Site and External Events Design (SEED) mission to Belarus. The SEED team reviewed the design parameters of the nuclear power plant the country is constructing with the use of Russian innovative VVER technology against external hazards specific to the site.

The SEED team said the plant’s design parameters accounted for site-specific external hazards, such as earthquakes, floods and extreme weather, as well as human-induced events,” the IAEA team concluded in its findings released on agency’s web site on January 20.

The IAEA team also noted that hazard monitoring programmes, which will be implemented throughout the life cycle of the plant, were adequate and properly documented. Additionally, measures have been taken to address challenges related to external events in light of lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

“Nuclear safety is a national responsibility and, by inviting this mission, the Government of Belarus has shown a strong commitment to meet the intent of IAEA Safety Standards in the development of the country’s nuclear power programme,” said Greg Rzentkowski, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. “This mission demonstrated that appropriate steps have been taken to establish the design parameters of the nuclear power plant to protect it against the worst credible external event.”

Belarus is building its first nuclear power reactors, two 1 170 megawatt-electric units of the Russian VVER technology. The first unit is scheduled to begin operation in 2019, the second one in 2020.

VVER reactor technology comes as one of the most reliable and promising technologies of nuclear industry. VVER is one of the world's main technologies for the production of nuclear electricity. A total of 58 reactors based on this technology are operating today.

VVER-based projects also highly attractive for business and investors, who are eager to participate in construction works and development of local infrastructure. Due to the active development of nuclear power, high-tech clusters can emerge in the future. These clusters would integrate a number of industries, medicine, science and technology.

Generally, benefits of Rosatom’s VVER reactor projects consist in an integrated offer. Rosatom does the design and construction work, provides maintenance services, trains the staff. Moreover, Rosatom is ready to offer a variety of models for funding new projects, develop infrastructure in the region of the NPP construction.

This could be of high importance for African countries which decided to embark upon the way of sustainable energy development. To achieve this, a range of African countries are working out a balanced strategy for the development of the power industry which includes the use of diverse and clean energy sources. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, are planning to rapidly develop a nuclear power sector with a view of creating balanced power industry. This has a point. The development of sustainable mix of different energy sources will allow to unleash huge potential of African countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana.

In March 2009, Russia signed a co-operation agreement with Nigeria, including provision for uranium exploration and mining in the country. A further broad agreement in June 2009 envisaged the construction of a Russian power reactor and a new research reactor. In June 2012, Rosatom signed a memorandum of understanding with NAEC to “prepare a comprehensive programme of building nuclear power plants in Nigeria”.

In 2012, the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum of Ghana signed a co-operation agreement with Rosatom, and in mid-2013 further discussion took place on the specifics of joint projects facilitating the implementation of plans by Ghana to develop a nuclear industry with Russian help. In June 2015, a nuclear co-operation agreement with Russia was signed. It also enables the promotion of Russian technology in West African markets and the practical start of joint nuclear projects.

About SEED missions:
SEED missions are designed to assist Member States at different stages in the development of a nuclear power programme. The service offers a choice of modules on which to focus the review, such as site selection and assessment, and the design of structures, systems and components against site external hazards. In accordance with IAEA practice, the final mission report will be delivered to the Government within three months.

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