On June 20-21, 2023, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) International Regulatory Development Partnership (IRDP) held a 2-day regulatory development workshop in Estonia sponsored by the U.S. Department of State under the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program. Estonia is currently analyzing the potential for introducing nuclear power to Estonia, considering possible technologies, climate goals, economics, and legal and regulatory requirements. The workshop facilitated discussions among key stakeholders about the regulatory development necessary for licensing small modular reactors (SMRs) should the Estonian government make the decision to support a nuclear power program.
The workshop was held in Tallinn, Estonia and was conducted by subject matter experts from the NRC’s contractor, Advanced Systems Technology and Management, Inc. (AdSTM), Dr. Charles Miller, Mr. Mark Tonacci, and Mr. Stewart Magruder. Mr. Chase Ellinger of FIRST and Mr. Randy Howell of the NRC also participated in the workshop. Estonian participants in the workshop included representatives from the Ministry of Environment, the Environmental Board, the Ministry of the Interior, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, and the University of Tartu.
The AdSTM experts provided presentations and facilitated discussions on considerations for establishing legislation governing nuclear activities, the structure and responsibilities of regulatory bodies, and U.S. experiences in nuclear regulation. This included presentations on the NRC mission, organization, and processes, responsibilities of licensees and regulators, and the licensing process for nuclear power plants, including specific considerations for licensing SMRs and overseeing their safe operation. There was good discussion about several issues such as the appropriate size for an emergency planning zone around an SMR, nuclear safety culture, and the importance of quality assurance in a nuclear power program. The workshop successfully provided the participants with a greater understanding of the potential approaches to regulating SMRs in Estonia.