International assistance for Vietnamese regulator

12 February 2015

The UK has agreed to extend the secondment of a senior nuclear inspector to Vietnam's Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS) as part of their continued cooperation. Meanwhile, US-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has agreed to cooperate in training for nuclear safety analysis while Russia will help promote nuclear energy in the country.

Since signing a memorandum of understanding with Vietnam in November 2013, the UK has organised a series of workshops and information exchange meetings. In October 2014, David Watson - a senior nuclear inspector at the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) - began a secondment with VARANS to advise them on a wide range of regulatory matters.

Watson has been advising Vietnam on all aspects of nuclear regulation, including its proposed new atomic energy law, the framework of regulations and technical standards, inspection capability, design assessment of new reactors, and detailed technical approaches to nuclear safety analysis across a wide range of topics.

The British Embassy recently organised a workshop in Hanoi, with around 60 local participants, including regulators, utilities, researchers and government officials, where Watson spoke alongside other UK delegates to share their expertise in regulatory framework, construction and fuel cycle management.

The secondment was due to end in January but has now been extended to the end of March 2015.

British ambassador to Vietnam Giles Lever said, "Watson's secondment from ONR to VARANS has been a great boost to our bilateral co-operation with Vietnam on civil nuclear. I am in no doubt that it will make a lasting contribution to ensuring the development of a safe and secure nuclear power program in Vietnam."

Vietnam plans to have two Russian reactors totalling in the order of 2000 MWe at Phuoc Dinh in the southern Ninh Thuan province by around 2020, followed by another 2000 MWe using Japanese technology at Vinh Hai in the same province. These plants would be followed by a further 6000 MWe by around 2030.

Cooperation with GE Hitachi

VARANS-GE Hitachi Feb 2015 - 250 (VARANS)
Signing ceremony at the Ministry of Science and Technology in Hanoi (Image: VARANS)

On 10 February VARANs signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), under which GEH will promote the training and development of qualified human resources in the field of nuclear safety analysis for boiling water reactors.

GEH senior vice president and chief commercial officer David Durham said, "This agreement will enhance the capability of VARANS staff to perform technical assessments and safety evaluations. Through this agreement and others we look forward to continuing to support the building of Vietnam's nuclear power infrastructure."

This is the third agreement that GEH has signed in Vietnam in recent months. In late 2014, MOUs were signed with Hanoi University of Science and Technology and Electric Power University to cooperate in the field of nuclear engineering and technology.

Russian help

VARANS-Rosatom Feb 2015 - 250 (Rosatom)
The signing of the MOU between Rosatom and Vietnam (Image: Rosatom)

Earlier this month, an MOU was signed between Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and Vietnam's ministry of science and technology. The MOU is aimed at developing joint communication programs for promoting nuclear power in Vietnam over the next five years.

The agreement was signed during a two-day meeting also attended by VARANS, the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VinAtom), Vietnam's ministries of education and finance, as well as Russian regulator Rostechnadzor and NIAEP-JSC ASE.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News