Canadian and Polish regulators announce SMR collaboration

14 February 2023

Canadian and Polish nuclear regulators have extended their cooperation under a newly signed memorandum on joint activities in the field of small modular reactors (SMRs), particularly the BWRX-300.

Velshi (left) and Głowacki signed the agreement in Abu Dhabi (Image: PAA)

The agreement was signed by Andrzej Głowacki, acting president of Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency (Panstwowa Agencja Atomistyki, PAA) and Rumina Velshi, chair of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency conference on Effective Nuclear and Radiation Regulatory Systems in Abu Dhabi.

The pact will see the regulators expand their cooperation on activities associated with advanced and small modular reactor technologies, sharing best practices and experience. The agreement specifies that this cooperation "may expand to facilitate a joint technical review of advanced and small modular reactor designs, including the BWRX-300".

Such a joint technical review may, amongst other things, include cooperation in:

  • Development of shared technical review approaches for advanced and small modular reactor technologies that facilitate resolution of common technical questions to enable regulatory reviews that address each participant's national regulations;
  • Collaboration on pre-application activities to ensure mutual preparedness to efficiently review advanced and small modular reactor designs, including sharing independent regulatory review results;
  • Collaboration on research, training, and the development of regulatory approaches to address unique and novel technical considerations for ensuring the safety of advanced and small modular reactor technologies.

"Today we took the first step enabling joint activities with CNSC in the field of small modular reactors," Głowacki said. "The experience gained in the field of regulatory review will contribute to the optimisation of the licensing process and the harmonisation of the regulatory approach. This, in turn, will enable more efficient implementation of these technologies in Poland and in the world."

Polish company PKN Orlen recently said it was preparing to announce locations for up to 79 GE-Hitachi BWRX-300 SMRs. Earlier this month, Estonia's Fermi Energia selected the BWRX-300 for potential deployment in the Baltic country by the early 2030s. The reactor is proposed for deployment at Darlington in Canada, and has been simultaneously going through the vendor design review process in Canada and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) pre-application process.

Speaking in a keynote address to the conference, Velshi pointed to the CNSC's memorandum of cooperation with the NRC as a "game changer".

"The more we harmonise our approach, the more we standardise designs, the more we collaborate on these issues, the better and more efficiently we'll be able to avoid unnecessary review and approval delays and be able to create an environment where SMRs can be both safely and efficiently deployed," she said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News