Kazakhstan presents draft atomic energy law amendments

16 January 2015

A new draft law on the use of atomic energy in Kazakhstan was presented yesterday to the country's lower house of parliament, the Majilis.

Kazakhstan currently has no nuclear power generation capacity, as the Aktau nuclear reactor, the country's only nuclear power plant, was shut down in June 1999. However, there is currently a plan to build a new 1500 MWe nuclear plant in the southeast of Kazakhstan, near Lake Balkash.

The draft aims to update an existing law adopted 15 years ago, during which time Kazakhstan has joined a number of international conventions in the nuclear sector, accumulated significant changes to its national legislation and has identified gaps in the regulation of safety in the use of nuclear energy, according to a statement issued by the Majilis.

"Adoption of legislation in the use of nuclear energy will streamline the regulatory system, establish and harmonize safety requirements in accordance with international standards, optimize measures aimed at ensuring safety, minimize the cost of their implementation and eliminate outdated rules and fill in the blanks," it said.

The bill proposes to define clearly relationships between the state, government, businesses and individuals involved in activities aimed at nuclear power development.

The bill contains a provision for: establishment of categories of radiation hazard installations; accreditation of personnel responsible for security required for activities connected with the use of atomic energy; examination of nuclear, radiological and nuclear security; clarification of nuclear energy terminology and concepts used in legislation in line with international practice; demand employment insurance against the risks of radiation exposure.

The bill also proposes regulations on decision-making procedures for the construction and licensing of nuclear power plants, used fuel disposal and decommissioning. Updated standards for emergency preparedness and responses to nuclear and radiological accidents are also required, according to the bill, as are qualifications for nuclear personnel.

The bill is accompanied by amendments to the Civil Code and the Environmental Code, the Law "On Radiation Safety of the Population", "On State Secrets" and "On permissions and notifications".

The law on state secrets would be amended "to ensure the accessibility of environmental information and the establishment of secrecy only with regard to information about specific systems for physical security of nuclear facilities," according to the Majilis statement. "Classifying work at a nuclear power plant does not make sense in today's world and significantly hinders the development of the nuclear industry."

Amendments to the law on permissions and notifications concern the time required to apply for a nuclear facility license and the procedure for regulators to verify compliance with safety and security requirements.

Further discussion of the bill will move to a working group, headed by the deputy of the Majilis Shavhat Utemisov.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News