Ukraine brings in new pre-licensing assessment for nuclear projects

20 October 2023

The large increase in proposed new nuclear energy projects has led the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) to establish a pre-licensing system based on the approach used by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The Rivne nuclear power plant is one of the potential sites for SMRs in Ukraine (Image: Energoatom)

The need for the new regulations, which were agreed at a meeting on Thursday, was the result of the large number - more than 100 over the past two decades - of new plant proposals which often feature new technology and have no equivalents in existing nuclear power plants, said SNRIU.

It will be particularly focused on small modular reactors, which the country says is one of its main priorities for its energy system.

The pre-licensing process is optional and its purpose is "identification of potential problematic issues" and "identification of those technological solutions that may significantly complicate or make it impossible to obtain a license for the construction of nuclear facilities in the future".

SNRIU said the main task of the pre-licensing assessment is to assess the proposals against things including  national safety requirements and rules for nuclear and radiation safety as well as IAEA requirements and recommendations.

It said the pre-licensing assessment's introduction in Ukraine follows the experience of similar systems in the USA, Canada and the UK. The US Bookhaven National Laboratory supported the SNRIU's State Scientific and Technical Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of Ukraine in developing the document setting out the regulations, which proposes 19 initial directions for pre-licensing assessments.

Ukraine has been planning for an expansion of its nuclear energy requirements, with a range of companies signing agreements they hope will lead to large and small reactor projects in the country. In August, a memorandum of understanding on cooperation and the exchange of information in nuclear regulatory matters was signed between SNRIU and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News