How is safety of the public and of the environment ensured during the transport of radioactive material?
Safety of the public and of the environment during transports of radioactive material is ensured by appropriate technological equipment preventing release of radioactive material into the environment, as well as through withholding information about shipments of nuclear materials, which includes the secrecy of the date and time of the shipment, the type and the route of the transport and other information about the involvement of security services of the State. The purpose of the confidentiality of this information is to ensure protection of the public through a smooth and secure transport of nuclear material to the point destination and thus to eliminate the possibility of sabotage during transport.
Why are the routes for shipments of radioactive materials in Slovakia secret? Does it have any significance?
Transport routes of radioactive materials in Slovakia are included among classified information. This means that to get information on shipments is only possible in accordance with a special procedure pursuant to the Act No. 215/2004 Coll. on the protection of classified information and on amendments to certain laws. Secrecy of the information on shipments of radioactive material is apparent also from the NRA SR Decree No. 57/2006 Coll. This Decree also sets out further details on the requirements during the transport of radioactive materials.
The routes for the shipments of spent nuclear fuel (hereinafter only as “SNF“) are part of the physical protection plan of SNF, which is classified information and is accessible only to those services, which are directly involved in the provision of physical protection of SNF. The routes for shipments of fresh nuclear fuel (hereinafter only as “FNF“) are determined in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecom of the SR, the Railways of the SR and the Railway Company Cargo Slovakia, a. s. The NRA SR is informed by the Railway Company Cargo Slovakia, a. s., prior to the shipment of FNF about the route of such shipment, which is always specific. Information about the shipment is then shredded.
Transport routes in specific cases, be it FNF or SNF, are not unified. In the interest of security they are changed, complemented and specified for each transport separately. The importance of secrecy regarding transport routes in order to avoid unwanted incidents and terrorist attacks during transport. This form of withholding data on shipments is a specific security measure in the interest of public safety and environmental protection.
Activists criticize that for the completion of NPP Mochovce 3&4 reactors of VVER 440 type are used, which according to them is an outdated technology not meeting the current safety criteria. Is that true?
The claim that the reactors of VVER 440 type do not meet the current safety criteria is not true. Conditions for the completion of the nuclear power plant Mochovce 3&4 is to meet all the criteria, according to which Units 1&2 of NPP Mochovce were completed, complemented with all applicable modifications based on the experiences gained in operating these. Currently NPP Mochoce 1&2 meets all the safety requirements at a level, which is common in Europe. Further, in the determination of criteria experiences from the modernization of NPP V-2 Bohunice and operational experiences from the nuclear power plants of the same design in the world shall be taken into account. Natural requirement is the fulfilment of all the requirements of the Slovak legislation, which is fully harmonized with the EU legislation.
Can change of supplier of components for the completion of NPP Mochovce 3&4 compared to the original supplier, reduce power plant safety?
Selection of the supplier is up to the investor, i.e. the owner of the nuclear power plant (NPP). Documentation was submitted to NRA SR for review and approval. In assessing the level of nuclear safety those criteria were decisive, according to which the nuclear power plant will be completed. Criteria for the completion of the NPP are provided by the Atomic Act.
Should NRA SR assess the completion of NPP Mochovce 3&4 according to the Act No. 26/2006 Coll. on environmental impact assessment?
NRA SR, according to the Act No. 24/2006 Coll. is an authorizing authority and not a competent authority. The procedure in expert and public assessment of expected impacts of proposed activities on the environment before the decision on their permitting according to special regulations (according to the Act No. 24/2006 Coll. on the environmental impacts assessment and on amendments of certain laws) is taken based on provisions of Section 54 by the competent authority designated by Section 3 par. g) of the given Act, which in this case is the Ministry of Environment of SR.
Should NRA SR in 2004, when the building permit was renewed for the project of completion of NPP Mochovce 3&4, have requested assessment of the project according to the Act 127/1994 Coll. on environmental impacts assessment?
From the information available it is clear that the Regional Building Office in Nitra on 15 July 2004 issued a decision concerning the activity of the “3rd structure of the Nuclear Power Plant Mochovce VVER 4x440 MW“, which is an integral part of the Building Permit, issued by the District National Committee in Levice on 12 November 1986 and this is still valid. This Decision amended one of the mandatory conditions for carrying out of construction so that the “Period of construction is determined to be until 31 December 2011“. In the administrative proceedings, in which the developer requested an extension of the period of construction, NRA SR according to Section 61 of the Building Act is in the position of a concerned public authority. Authorizing authority was the Regional Building Office in Nitra. As an authority concerned it reviewed the submitted documentation for the administrative procedure to the extent of its competences provided by the then valid Act No. 130/1998 Coll. on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. To require a procedure according to the Act No. 127/1994 Coll. on the environmental impacts assessment was therefore not the competence of NRA SR.
What is the difference in the competencies of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority and the Public Health Authority?
Nuclear Regulatory Authority of SR
NRA SR is a central state administration authority for the field of nuclear regulation. NRA provides state regulation of:
- Nuclear safety of nuclear installations,
- Radioactive waste management and spent fuel management and other stages of the fuel cycle,
- Regulation of nuclear materials, including their control and record keeping,
- Provides assessment of plans for the use of nuclear energy and the quality of classified equipment and facilities of nuclear technology,
- Fulfilment of Slovakia´s obligations arising from the international treaties concerning nuclear safety of nuclear installations and management of nuclear materials.
Public Health Authority of the SR
Public Health Authority of the S is the sole institution operating in the field of radiation protection in Slovakia. It provides for comprehensive solution and guidance in the issues of radiation protection and health protection against radiation at all workplaces with radiation sources, including nuclear energy facilities and protection of the public from natural radiation sources, as the only authority in SR appoints the examining boards for testing the proficiency for work with radiation sources and issues certificates of professional competence. Additional information is available at: www.uvzsr.sk
What does it mean regulatory activity of NRA SR?
Regulatory activity of NRA SR over the safety of nuclear installations includes control and assessment activities in accordance with the Atomic Act and with other legal regulations.
- Control activity:Control activity is governed by an internal guideline and the annual inspections plan. NRA SR carries out inspections during construction, operation, implementation of modifications, repairs, maintenance and decommissioning of nuclear installations. Control activity is performed by nuclear safety inspectors.
- Assessment activity: Assessment activity of NRA SR is focused on assessment of safety documentation in particular. Safety documentation is a set of documents, by which the operator proves that the given nuclear installation is safe. The scope of safety documentation is defined by the Atomic Act.
How Slovakia manages nuclear materials?
Regulatory activities of NRA SR in the field of nuclear materials management ensure that nuclear materials are used in accordance with the license of NRA SR. Authorization for the management of nuclear materials is granted only to those applicants, who demonstrate their ability to use nuclear materials in accordance with the legal regulations and the international obligations of Slovakia; The applicant must in particular ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted to nuclear weapons or for other activities, which are contrary to the international obligations of Slovakia (system of registration and physical protection) and that their use does not endanger the environment and human health.
Transport of nuclear materials. Top Secret!
Classifying information concerning the transport of radioactive material results from the NRA SR Decree 57/2006 Section 6 par.1 sub-par. f). This is particularly for the provision of physical protection during transport, which includes measures to prevent the theft of radioactive material transported or disruption of the shipment aimed at releasing transported radioactive material into the environment.
What happens with the produced radioactive waste (RAW) ?
RAW is produced during generation of electric energy from nuclear fuel also in related activities (RAW from operation) and during the use of sources of ionizing radiation in industry, health care and research (institutional radioactive waste - IRAW).
Nuclear installations that are in decommissioning produce only secondary RAW in connection with decontamination, dismantling and demolition works. From the view of protection of human health and environmental protection adequate attention should be given to RAW. According to applicable legislation the producer must keep the amount and activity of produced RAW by technical and organizational measures as low as reasonably achievable. The Program of minimization of RAW production, which is regularly evaluated, is part of the quality documentation of every NPP.