IAEA team completes Czech regulatory review

30 May 2023

The Czech Republic is committed to maintaining and strengthening its robust regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has concluded. The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission team identified areas for possible improvements.

The IRRS mission team at the Temelín nuclear power plant (Image: SÚJB)

The IRRS team concluded a 12-day mission to the Czech Republic on 26 May. The previous IRRS mission took place in 2013 and its follow up in 2017. It was conducted at the request of the Czech government and hosted by the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB).

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, based on IAEA safety standards and international good practices, while recognising the responsibility of each country to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.

During the mission, the team conducted interviews with management and staff from SÚJB and representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The team also accompanied SÚJB during its inspections and oversight activities at sealed source manufacturer ISOTREND, waste management facility DIAMO, national radiation protection institute SÚRO, the General University Hospital in Prague, and at research reactors at the Czech Technical University. The team also visited one of the two operating reactors at the Temelín nuclear power plant.

The team - comprising 19 senior regulatory experts from 18 IAEA Member States, as well as three IAEA staff members and one observer - concluded that the Czech Republic has a comprehensive and robust regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety with SÚJB acting as a competent regulator focused on a continuous improvement.

"Our review concluded that SÚJB works within a comprehensive and robust regulatory framework," said the IRRS team leader Thomas Wildermann, head of department nuclear energy supervision, radiation protection in the Ministry of Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. "I'm also impressed by SÚJB's strong commitment to improve and adapt its regulatory practices to future challenges."

The team made several recommendations and suggestions to further reinforce continuous improvement and enhance the Czech regulatory system and the effectiveness of the regulatory functions in line with IAEA safety standards.

It said the government should review the framework for safety to include provisions for new types of facilities and activities foreseen in national strategic energy plans such as new nuclear power plants and small modular reactors. It should also establish legal provisions to ensure that nuclear security measures, including cyber security, and safety measures are designed and implemented in an integrated manner.

It also said SÚJB should: develop a plan to ensure availability of qualified and sufficient staff now and in the future; further develop its integrated management system to strengthen the ability to perform effective regulatory oversight including the periodic conduct of internal audits; revise its emergency preparedness and response programme, to include periodic and independent appraisals and guidance on preparation, conduct and evaluation of emergency exercises; and establish mechanisms to systematically describe its practice of informing or consulting the public.

"SÚJB, as the Czech Republic's Nuclear Regulatory Authority, highly appreciates external independent feedback on our regulatory processes and activities, especially when it comes from a team of knowledgeable experts under the auspices of a reputable international organisation such as the IAEA," said Dana Drábová, head of SÚJB. "The mission itself and the preparatory process, including the self-assessment activities, were a unique opportunity for SÚJB to enhance the effectiveness of the national safety infrastructure."

The final IRRS mission report will be submitted to the Czech government in about three months, the IAEA said. It noted Czech authorities have said they plan to make the report public.

The IRRS mission will be followed by an IAEA Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) mission - scheduled for October 2023 - which will assess radioactive waste and used fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programmes in the country.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News