IAEA team completes Romanian regulatory review

15 November 2023

Romania is committed to maintaining and strengthening its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts has concluded. However, the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission team recommended improving the coordination among government agencies concerned with radiation source facilities and activities.

Romania's Cernavoda plant (Image: Ansaldo Nucleare)

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, based on IAEA safety standards and international good practices, while recognising the responsibility of each country to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.

The IRRS team concluded a 12-day mission to Romania on 10 November. The mission, carried out at the request of the Romanian government and hosted by the National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN), marks the start of the third IRRS mission cycle to Romania after previous missions in 2006 and 2011.

The team - comprising 20 senior regulatory experts from 15 countries, as well as IAEA staff members and one observer from the European Commission, reviewed facilities and activities regulated by CNCAN.

The mission identified several good performances, including: the performance, during a CNCAN inspection, of an on-the-spot written test for the authorised staff dedicated to radiation safety and emergency preparedness; the development of a detailed cooperation protocol between CNCAN and the Romanian customs authority to ensure the safe inspection of radioactive packages; the prompt update of the regulation for reactors and installations with multiple modules, after the signature of a memorandum of understanding between CNCAN and NuScale Power, to evaluate small modular reactors (SMRs); and the systematic and holistic approach of CNCAN to address the interface of safety and security in its regulatory oversight programme for nuclear power plants.

"Romania has a comprehensive and mature regulatory infrastructure for nuclear safety," said IRRS team leader Peter Elder, vice-president of technical support with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. "CNCAN's challenge will be to prepare itself for the expected expansion of Romania's nuclear power programme. We recommend that Romania further improves its radiation protection framework, especially in the medical sector."

The IRRS team identified several recommendations and suggestions, including: CNCAN should implement its systematic training programme including inspector qualification and enhance its inspection programme to be used in the planning and conduct of inspections, in accordance with a graded approach; and the Ministry of Health should revise and implement the regulatory requirements on radiation protection, including justification of practices, dose constraints for the public exposure and consumer products provision consistent with IAEA safety standards.

The final mission report will be provided to the government in about three months. Romania plans to make the report public.

"We would like to thank the IRRS team and Romanian counterparts for their intensive work during the last two weeks," said CNCAN President Cantemir Ciurea-Ercau. "The IRRS mission confirms our commitment for continuous improvement of nuclear and radiation safety. CNCAN will use the outcomes of the mission to update its action plan to strengthen the regulatory capabilities and national infrastructure for safety."

Romania operates two 720 MWe pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant. Fuel for the reactors is produced domestically. Preparations for constructing two more 720 MWe PHWRs at Cernavoda and a 462 MWe SMR power plant at Doicești are under way. Romania also operates a dual core TRIGA Mark II research reactor which produces radioisotopes for industrial applications and is used for research and training. The country operates one waste disposal facility and plans to build two more, including a deep geological repository.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News