Improvements seen in Hungary's regulatory framework

05 October 2018

Hungary has made "significant improvements" to its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety since 2015, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) follow-up mission has concluded.

The IAEA mission team present its findings (Image: HAEA)

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team on 1 October concluded an eight-day follow-up mission to review Hungary's implementation of recommendations and suggestions made during a 2015 visit. The scope of the 2015 and 2018 IRRS missions covered all regulated facilities and activities. The 11-member team comprised senior regulatory experts from Finland, France, Greece, Pakistan, Slovenia and the USA as well as four IAEA staff members. The team leader was Michael Johnson, Deputy Executive Director for Reactor and Preparedness Programmes at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The mission was conducted at the request of the government and hosted by the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) in coordination with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer and the Baranya County Government Office.

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 latest IRRS mission to Hungary was the IAEA's 100th such mission.

The mission team concluded that Hungary has successfully addressed the findings identified during the earlier mission related to the complex distribution of regulatory responsibilities.

Since the 2015 mission, the team found that HAEA has: ensured the effective independence of the regulatory body; simplified the distribution of roles and responsibilities of the different regulatory authorities; and, maintained regulatory stability and ensured effective knowledge transfer throughout the redistribution of those responsibilities.

Team leader Johnson said, "Hungary has gone through a significant transition during which they were successful in addressing many of the recommendations and suggestions identified during the initial mission. While additional work remains to ensure effective implementation, Hungary has demonstrated its dedication to continuous improvement and focus on safety."

Greg Rzentkowski, Director of Nuclear Installation Safety at the IAEA, said: "The mission demonstrated that Hungary continues to place appropriate focus on implementing a framework that provides for effective protection of public health and safety. The progress achieved to date significantly enhanced regulatory effectiveness and transparency."

The IRRS team will provide a final mission report to the government in about three months, the IAEA said. It noted Hungarian authorities have said they plan to make the report public.

Hungary generates about half of its electricity at four reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant. The country is planning to construct another two units at Paks. It also operates two research reactors for training and research as well as the production of radioisotopes.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News