By endorsing the Joint Declaration on comprehensive risk and safety assessments of nuclear plants ('stress tests') in June 2011, Belarus confirmed its willingness to undertake on a voluntary basis such assessments, taking into account the specifications agreed by the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) on 24 May 2011.
The Commission started long time in advance detailed discussions with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in order to ensure that adequate resources would be available in due time to perform this peer review process. This peer review exercise was included in the ENSREG Work programme for 2016-2019.
In the summer of 2017, ENSREG established a Board and a peer review team to review the Belarusian national stress test report with the support of 17 nuclear safety regulators from nuclear and non-nuclear EU Member States and the Commission.
National Stress Test Report and its Peer Review
In October 2017, Belarus presented to the EU its national stress tests report on the country's first nuclear power plant in Astravets, under construction at that time, for a peer review led by an international team of EU regulators.
The EU stress test peer review process in Belarus does not deviate from past stress test exercises, follows the same technical specifications prepared by ENSREG in May 2011 (4) and is performed in full transparency according to the ‘principle for openness and transparency’ as adopted by ENSREG in December 2011 (5). To ensure a smooth implementation of the process, all practical details of the Peer Review were compiled in a single document which was approved by the Belarus Stress Board and by Belarus Counterpart (6).
According to the principle of transparency, the Belarus national stress test report, the core element of the peer review, is published on this website (7, also attached below) and was open for public consultation from Monday 13 November 2017 to Saturday 13 January 2018. The report is also available in the Russian version on the website of the Belarus nuclear regulatory authority (8). The answers to the questions received during the public consultation are also published below.
The Peer review exercise took place in Belarus from the 12th to the 16th March 2018. A team of 17 experts from EU and non EU Member States with a good balance between nuclear power and non-nuclear countries were forming the peer review team. The team included also 2 representatives from the Commission and 3 observers (1 from the IAEA, 1 from the Russian Federation and 1 from Iran). The answers to the peer review team questions are published below.
The Peer Review Board came to Belarus from the 12th to the 14th June 2018 to present the final version of the Peer Review report to Gosatomnadzor and Belarus NPP representatives.
This report was endorsed by European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) and the results of this Stress Test peer review in Belarus were presented to the public on 3 July 2018 in the Commission's Albert Borschette Congress Centre (CCAB) in Brussels.
A joint press release was issued after this public presentation and the Peer Review Report together with an executive summary were published on 4 July 2018 on this web page (see the attachments below).
National Action Plan and its Peer Review
In 2019, Belarus submitted its national action plan, converting the recommendations in their national report and in the stress test peer review report into concrete actions to enhance the safety tof its first nuclear power plant; the plan includes a timeline for implementation.
The peer review began after Belarus provided the peer review team with an updated plan in January 2020. The objective was to consider how the actions in the national action plan were developed from the national report, the stress test peer review team’s recommendations and other relevant recommendations. The peer review also considered whether adequate progress was made in implementing the actions identified.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the peer review was divided into two phases. As with the national stress test report, it started with a desktop exercise, with questions prepared by a team of experts and ENSREG members. A team of 12 was established from the experts nominated by ENSREG. The European Commission provided a rapporteur to assist the team. Their review led to a total of 93 questions that were submitted to Belarus in July 2020. Belarus provided written responses in October and November 2020.
In November 2020, the peer review team produced a first draft of its report. It was based on the written answers received from Belarus and the online discussions seeking to obtain further clarification on the answers. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a full fact-finding mission to Belarus planned for December 2020 had to be cancelled. An updated draft report focusing on high priority issues was provided in December 2020 and used as a basis for further work in phase 1. A hybrid fact-finding mission with online expert meetings and a site visit focusing on the implementation status of high priority issues was conducted in January and February 2021. It resulted in a Preliminary report, approved by ENSREG on 3 March 2021; the ENSREG Chair issued a statement on the finalisation of this report.
The full fact-finding mission to Belarus is expected to happen later in 2021, depending on the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal is to discuss the status of all recommendations, particularly those not addressed in this report, and to evaluate and verify their implementation status. The final report on the peer review will be issued at the end of the second phase.