IAEA assesses emergency preparedness in Belarus

17 October 2018

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today concluded a ten-day mission to review Belarus's preparedness and response arrangements for nuclear and radiological emergencies. An Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) is one of the peer reviews offered by the IAEA to strengthen nuclear safety in Member States.

Members of the EPREV team along with counterparts from the Belarusian Ministry for Emergency Situations in Minsk (Image: Belarusian Ministry for Emergency Situations)

Belarus is building its first nuclear power reactors, two 1170 MWe units of the Russian VVER technology. The mission included a visit to the nuclear power plant site at Ostrovets in northern Belarus.

"By inviting and hosting this review mission, Belarus has demonstrated commitment to continuously improving its nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness and response arrangements," said Juan Carlos Lentijo, deputy director general and head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security at the IAEA.

The EPREV team identified several strengths during the mission, including, the management system for nuclear emergencies has been integrated into an all-hazards emergency management system, and Belarus has a comprehensive programme for international cooperation on emergency preparedness and response. The team also noted that the plant has an on-site emergency response centre fitted with features for long-term response that allow emergency workers to better implement mitigatory actions.

Recommendations for further consideration included providing more complete guidance on the implementation of emergency response actions by all response organisations, and improvement to arrangements for the use of the emergency classification system and definition of actions to be taken immediately after the onset of an emergency.

Marina Nizamska, former head of the Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response at the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, led the eight-person review team, which included experts from Finland, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Slovakia, the USA, as well as the IAEA.

"The outcome of the mission will help Belarus to further enhance its robust preparedness and response framework, in line with the latest applicable IAEA safety standards," Nizamska said.

The EPREV was carried out at the request of the government of Belarus, which the IAEA said intends to adopt an action plan to address the findings and to consider inviting an EPREV follow-up mission.

An intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Belarus specifically on cooperation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus was signed in March 2011.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News