The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requested that the IRDP support a workshop on developing the necessary safety infrastructure for a nuclear power program, to be conducted in Vilnius, Lithuania from June 18-22, 2012. The workshop summarized the content of IAEA Specific Safety Guide SSG-16, “Establishing the Safety Infrastructure for a Nuclear Power Programme.” IAEA Safety Guide SSG-16 addresses 20 topic areas organized into 11 Modules. For each topic area SSG-16 identifies action items that need to be implemented for Phase 1, Phase 2, or Phase 3 of a developing country’s nuclear power program (reference IAEA NG-G-3.1, “Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power”). Action items are applicable to either the government, regulatory body, and/or the operating organization. At Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate’s (VATESI’s) request, IAEA focused on four of the 11 Modules, namely:
- Module 2 - Human Resources Development,
- Module 3 - Leadership and Management for Safety,
- Module 8 - External Support Organizations and Contractors, and
- Module 9 - Safety in Design, Safety Assessment, and Research for Safety.
Experts from Romania and the United States provided their perspectives on how the topics in these four modules were addressed in their country.
The NRC sent David Fischer, the IRDP Director at AdSTM, as the expert from the United States. He discussed staffing, training, qualification, and organizational structure at the NRC. He described the various phases of regulatory oversight and focused on nuclear power plant (NPP) commissioning (or pre-operational testing) phase. Mr. Fischer discussed several basic concepts of regulation (e.g., applicant/licensee responsibility for safety, regulatory independence, arms-length, openness, avoidance of undue burden) but focused on the NRC’s management systems and safety culture. Mr. Fischer explained how the NRC ensures that its staff has an in-depth understanding of safety requirements and principles and how they develop the expertise to conduct safety reviews and assessments. He also explained the NRC’s processes to address modifications made to NPP designs during construction and afterwards. He touched on research for safety and regulatory purposes. Finally, Mr. Fischer described how external support organizations and contractors are used by the NRC, and the required NRC oversight responsibilities.
The workshop included practical exercises regarding nuclear power program development, with the participants and presenters using the actions of IAEA Safety Guide SSG-16 as a guide. The exercises were used to assess the current situation in Lithuania and build a common understanding among stakeholders about how to improve the Lithuanian safety infrastructure.