The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has begun an eight-day mission to Kazakhstan to assess the status of infrastructure required for the country to launch a nuclear power program. The mission is at the request of the Kazakh government.
|The opening of the INIR mission in Astana (Image: IAEA)
The IAEA said the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission will consider issues such as Kazakhstan's legal and regulatory frameworks, nuclear safety and security, radioactive waste management, human resource development, stakeholder involvement and the capacity of the electrical grid. The mission began on 31 October and will be completed on 7 November.
The IAEA team is headed by Dohee Hahn, director of the IAEA's nuclear energy division, while the Kazakh delegation is led by energy minister Kanat Bozumbayev. During the mission, the team will hold in-depth discussions with representatives from Kazakh nuclear- and energy-related organizations - including the RSE National Nuclear Centre, RSE Institute of Nuclear Physics and JSC NAC Kazatomprom - about experiences and best practices in developing nuclear power infrastructure.
"The evaluation of its infrastructure status will help Kazakhstan in making a knowledgeable decision on whether to embark on a nuclear power program," the IAEA said. It added, "The IAEA does not influence countries' decisions as to whether to introduce nuclear power. However, if they do decide to embark on a nuclear power program, the IAEA helps them do it in a safe, secure and sustainable manner."
"Today, more than 70% of Kazakhstan's energy supply comes from burning coal," the IAEA noted. "That, coupled with the fact that Kazakhstan already has experience in operating a fast breeder reactor and that it is also the world's leading uranium producer, gives grounds for considering nuclear as one of the options."
Kazakhstan has 15% of the world's uranium resources and became the leading uranium producing country in 2009. The country was home to the BN-350 fast reactor at Aktau, which was built under Russian supervision and operated for 27 years, closing in 1999.
The INIR mission to Kazakhstan is the 21st the IAEA has conducted since they were launched in 2009. It follows 16 full and four follow-up missions conducted in 14 countries.
The IAEA has earlier conducted missions to assess Kazakhstan's nuclear safety regulation and emergency preparedness, the country's energy ministry noted.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News