IAEA missions see progress in Lithuania and Jordan

23 October 2017

Lithuania has established and maintains a robust and comprehensive physical security framework, a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has concluded. A separate team has found that Jordan has significantly strengthened its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety in recent years.

International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions are intended to help IAEA member states strengthen their national nuclear security regime through peer review advice and IAEA guidance. A team of international experts assesses a nation's physical protection systems, compares it with international best practices and recommends improvements. IPPAS missions are conducted both on a nationwide and facility-specific basis.

The scope of the latest IPPAS mission to Lithuania - between 9 and 20 October - included the legislative and regulatory framework for nuclear security, the physical protection of nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities and activities, including computer security. Lithuania's implementation of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) was also included in the scope of the mission. The amendment - ratified by Lithuania in 2009 - entered into force last year and provides a strengthened framework for protecting nuclear materials and facilities.

An eight-member team, led by Nancy Fragoyannis of the USA's Nuclear Regulatory Commission, visited the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which is being decommissioned. They also visited facilities on the Ignalina site, including the Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility. The team visited facilities that use or store radioactive sources, including the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences hospital in Kaunas. It also met in Vilnius with officials from the State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (Vatesi), the Radiation Protection Centre (RSC), the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of National Defence and the State Security Department.

The IAEA team concluded Lithuania has a well established nuclear security regime that incorporates the fundamental principles of the amended CPPNM. The mission team said it had identified good practices that can serve as examples to other IAEA member states to help strengthen their nuclear security activities. The team also made recommendations and suggestions to support Lithuania in enhancing and sustaining nuclear security.

Muhammad Khaliq, head of the IAEA's nuclear security of materials and facilities section, noted this was the third time an IPPAS mission had been invited to Lithuania. The country hosted an IPPAS mission in 1999 and a follow-up mission in 2002.

"Lithuania's example in applying IAEA nuclear security guidance and using IAEA advisory services clearly demonstrates its strong commitment to nuclear security and its enhancement," Khaliq added.

Vatesi head Michail Demcenko said, "The IPPAS team gave us a comprehensive and competent external view of our system to ensure security of our nuclear facilities and activities. The recommendations and suggestions provided by the IPPAS team will help us to further maintain and enhance our regulatory framework in line with the international requirements and best practices."

Albinas Mastauskas, director of RSC, said: "The recommendations and suggestions will support us in the continuous improvement of the existing security system for radioactive sources, to ensure that they are securely protected during and at the end of their useful lives. This includes an effective national legislative and regulatory infrastructure, promotion of a security culture with regard to radioactive sources, and adequate education and training of regulators and operators."

Regulatory improvement in Jordan

An IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team completed an eight-day mission to Jordan on 22 October. The mission - hosted by the government and the Energy and Minerals Regulatory Commission (EMRC) - was a follow-up to a mission conducted in 2014.

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, while recognising the responsibility of each member state to ensure nuclear and radiation safety. The missions compare regulatory technical and policy issues with IAEA safety standards and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere. The regulatory review process also draws directly upon the wide-ranging international experience and expertise of the regulatory review team members. The review results in a report that identifies good practices and provides recommendations and suggestions for improvement.

The 11-member team said Jordan had effectively addressed the findings of the previous mission and made notable progress in enhancing its regulatory framework. It noted that EMRC had either fully implemented all the recommendations and suggestions from 2014 or made considerable progress towards that goal.

Team leader Nikolay Vlahov of the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency said, "This is a major achievement. The EMRC has shown commitment to continuously improving its regulatory practices." However, he noted, "Maintaining and expanding staff competence and knowledge will be a continuous challenge as the number of radiation facilities is growing, a research reactor is close to start-up and a nuclear power plant is being considered."

The IRRS mission team recommended EMRC revises its regulatory framework to include classification of exposure situations and requirements for protecting workers undertaking remedial actions. It also suggested EMRC considers completing its internal arrangements regarding the organisation of the team acting on its premises during an emergency. It also suggested the regulator establishes a minimum duration of training of medical personnel with respect to patient radiation protection, as well as implementing the accreditation of radiation and nuclear safety inspectors.

EMRC chairman HE Farouq Al-Hyari said, "Since 2014, the EMRC has made great efforts to meet IAEA safety standards and to improve the national safety infrastructure. These efforts for further enhancement will continue."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News