Sweden's Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has become the 12th member of the Multinational Design Evaluation Program (MDEP). The program pools resources of national regulators for reviewing new nuclear power reactor designs.
Administered by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), MDEP is a program through which national regulators are working to share technical data and standardize regulations and practices in order to avoid duplication of work.
"Sweden is well known for its contribution to high levels of nuclear safety, and its decades of experience in this area will further reinforce the work of the program."
Luis Echavarri, NEA director general
In July 2012, SSM received an application from Vattenfall to construct one or two new reactors to replace existing ones that are due to shut down after almost 50 years of operation. However, as Sweden has not licensed a new reactor since 1985, the SSM is particularly interested in benefitting from the experience and knowledge base of member country regulators that are already actively involved in the licensing process. These currently include the regulators of Canada, China, Finland, France, India, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Russia, the UK and the USA.
SSM director of nuclear power plant safety Lennart Carlsson said, "The process is starting now in Sweden, and our goal is to contribute to several MDEP design-specific and issue-specific working groups, including those on the EPR and AP1000, as well as on digital instrumentation and control."
The United Arab Emirates' (UAE's) Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) became the group's first associate member in September 2012. The International Atomic Energy Agency also participates in portions of MDEP activities.
A key concept throughout the work of MDEP is that national regulators retain sovereign authority for all licensing and regulatory decisions.
While MDEP represents governmental efforts for harmonization in licensing new reactor designs, the World Nuclear Association, representing the global nuclear industry, established a working group in 2007 which has been campaigning for the harmonisation of safety regulations internationally and for making standardisation of reactor designs possible. Based on its initial work, the CORDEL (Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing) group published a proposal for a three-phase process to achieve standardization, beginning with mutual acceptance by regulators of review data and ending with internationally valid design approval.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News