Updated at 19:56,22-01-2021

IAEA: Responsibility for management of industrial safety, nuclear safety and security lies with state


Responsibility for the management of industrial safety, nuclear safety and security lies with the state that is building a nuclear power plant, the press office of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told BelaPAN on Thursday.

In reply to BelaPAN’s inquiry whether the IAEA was going to look into the recent accident at the construction site for the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, the press office said that the agency “is probably not the best source for this situation – responsibility for the management of industrial safety, nuclear safety and security lies with the state.”

However, the IAEA assists its member states in fulfilling their responsibilities, the press office said.

“We do this through, for example, our safety standards and through offering our member states, on their request, safety and security reviews, evaluation and appraisal services,” the press office noted.

“For any specific information we would recommend that you check with the local authorities,” the press office said.

“Plants under construction do not pose any radiation hazard to the public until nuclear fuel is loaded in the reactor,” the press office added.

On Tuesday, the Belarusian energy ministry de facto confirmed that a 330-ton reactor pressure vessel for the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant’s first power unit was accidentally dropped from a height to the ground on July 10.

In a statement, the ministry said with reference to the Russian prime contractor in the project that an «emergency situation happened» when the reactor pressure vessel had been lifted from its storage location and was being moved.

RUP Belaruskaya AES (state-owned company formerly known as the Nuclear Power Project Directorate) immediately requested «all necessary papers and information» from the prime contractor, said the statement, adding that an inquiry into the accident continued.

The ministry said that a «decision» would be made after the probe was completed. «The Belarusian side will be guided in the first place by the need to unconditionally ensure the safety of the plant under construction,» it said.
Earlier in the day, the prime contractor, Russia's Atomstroyexport, denied the reports of the accident at the construction site.

The construction of the two-unit Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant is one of the most successful projects in countries entering the path towards the development of nuclear power generation, Yukiya Amano, the IAEA director general, said while speaking at the opening ceremony for an international nuclear energy exhibition in Minsk in April 2016.

On Wednesday, the press office of the Belarusian energy ministry reported that experts representing the IAEA’s Site and External Events Design (SEED) had arrived in Minsk at the invitation of the Belarusian government.

The Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant is being built some 10 miles from the Lithuanian border. Its two reactors are to have a total generating capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts. The first reactor is expected to be put into operation in November 2018 and the other in July 2020.