STUK prepares for assessing the safety of novel nuclear reactors
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) has published a report on the conditions for safe operation of so-called small modular reactors (SMRs). The report discusses special questions associated with the safety assessment and licensing of the new nuclear power plant types. STUK is preparing for the licensing of new power plant types due to the national and international interest in them.
A working group established by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is currently investigating the need to develop the Nuclear Energy Act further. One of the topics being discussed is the current statutory licensing system of nuclear facilities and how to make it suit better for licensing SMRs and monitoring their radiation safety. Globally, significant investments are being made on the development of SMRs and the parties showing interest are not just traditional nuclear power companies – many new organizations, such as cities, municipalities and the process industry have also expressed interest in using SMRs for producing heat and power.
Although no concrete plans for building an SMR in Finland exist yet, STUK nevertheless wishes to prepare for the future. “We must be able to inform the parties considering the use of nuclear energy of the safety requirements that apply to novel nuclear power plants and must be capable of assessing the safety of the plants as necessary”, says Petteri Tiippana, Director General of STUK.
“While technology is evolving rapidly, changing the existing licensing system and the instructions that supplement the legislation takes some time. Furthermore, building the necessary expertise does not happen in an instant. We prepare for the future to ensure that the safety of SMRs will be at least at the same level as that of the existing nuclear power plants. Good operating practices as an authority also requires that our expectations and requirements towards the operators are as transparent as possible and can be taken into account proactively”, says Tiippana.
In addition to operating nationally, STUK is also active in international co-operation where the national authorities consider the rules for the licensing and safety of SMRs. The significance of international co-operation and a common set of rules is further emphasized by the fact the plant providers designing SMRs expect that a single reactor design could be built in as many countries as possible.
For additional information, please contact:
Principal Advisor Minna Tuomainen, tel. +358 9 759 88 329
Media contacts, tel. +358 10 850 4761