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Tacis nuclear safety programme,

Tacis Nuclear Safety Programme in Russia
1. Background

Since several years, the Tacis nuclear safety programme covers a range of areas with a large number of specific projects intended to improve nuclear safety in all concerned areas. The main objective of the programme is the improvement of the safety of nuclear power plants and of other civil nuclear installations located in the Russian Federation, including fuel cycle and waste management facilities In 1995, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Commission of the European Communities and the Russian Federation on the implementation of the Technical Assistance Programme in the field of Nuclear Safety. Other significant milestones of TACIS Nuclear Safety programme are as follows: - 1991: generic studies on design deficiencies of VVER V230 and RBMK; assistance to the Regulatory Authority - 1993: start of on-site assistance including supply of safety related equipment. - 1994: start of support in the area of safeguards - 1995: first technical assistance projects related to Northwest Russia (spent fuel and waste) Based on the experience gained, it is considered appropriate to better clarify both the objectives and the methods for our future co-operation under the Tacis programme. 

2. The objectives of a new approach

Realistic cost estimates clearly show that external assistance can only make a partial contribution to the investments needed to increase the safety level of all of the currently operating plants. The same holds true for the management of spent fuel or radioactive waste as well as for other areas such as safeguards. This has resulted in the desire to review the focus of the Tacis programme so as to ensure its largest possible benefit and multiplying effect. The new assessment of priorities takes into account the political discussions between Russia and the European Union on the specific issue of spent fuel and radioactive waste management in Northwest Russia and their possible environmental impact. Another important reason for a new start relates to the need to improve the implementation mechanisms. Any new proposals should be based on experience, but also on the applicable rules. Emphasis should be given to shortened project cycle, as well as to the selection of larger projects. Simplification in contract management should also be systematically aimed at. 

Partnership and transparency are key elements to ensure efficient implementation and long term sustainability. More visibility should be gained not only through more focus but also from improved dissemination of relevant results to interested parties. The programme should rely on the full commitment of the beneficiary organizations and receive full support at the highest political level. 

3. Priority areas for Tacis Support

The following sectors are identified for priority action: 
- Power reactor safety, including technical assistance to energy sector and corporate restructuring 
- Nuclear fuel cycle and Radioactive waste management 
- Decommissioning 
- Safeguards 

A competent and independent regulatory authority is a key element in all sectors of nuclear safety. Tacis support to Gosatomnadzor is therefore a clear priority. It will include: 
- Generic activities such as transfer of methodologies will continue; 
- Support should be provided in the regulatory review of in-depth safety assessments of nuclear power plants and other nuclear installations; 
- For specific plant improvement projects, co-operation should be undertaken through the “two plus two” approach.

3.1 Power reactor safety 

Priority will be given to the transfer and broadening of safety culture and methodologies. Other criteria applied in project selection are: 
- safety relevance 
- be part of the Russian programme of nuclear safety improvement 
- implementation in established period of time 
- practical introduction of project results 
- possible involvement of Russian organizations 

The on-site assistance programme based on a close relation between Russian nuclear power plants and EU utilities will be continued. This on-site assistance will have a significant part related to operational safety. These activities will be specified in detail. As a rule, equipment can be supplied as part of a limited number of larger “Plant Improvement Projects” (PIP) that are based on a comprehensive approach encompassing the whole range of activities from the assessment of the safety relevance of project proposals, to the licensing, to the procurement, to the installation up to the adaptation of operational procedures. The PIPs must fit into the overall modernisation plans of the NPPs where they are to be implemented. For this reason, it will be essential to have complete transparency among the involved parties regarding these safety improvement plans. The relative commitments of the involved Russian and the EU parties will be fully specified in due time during project preparation. Increased contractual responsibility should be placed on the on-site consultant for timely project implementation.
A certain number of design safety projects, which are not directly linked to a particular installation, will be considered as such a need results from more tightened regulatory requirements and as such projects may become necessary to prepare larger projects. Support for the establishment of safety analyses reports (in depth safety analysis) will alsobe considered.
Activities will be explicitly assessed with regard to sustainability and potential multiplying effect, i.e. repetition by local structures on other plants.
The adequate involvement of the nuclear regulator shall be ensured in all activities. The “two plus two” approach is the model to be used wherever possible.
For first generation reactors, support will deal with operational safety and regulatory work. A financially sound electricity sector and a well organized nuclear industrial base are equally important to the long-term safe operation of nuclear power. Support is considered for the improvement of relevant macro-economic circuits as well as of corporate structures on the part of the nuclear utilities and more widely on the part of industrial nuclear operators. This should lead to co-operation with EU industry.

3.2 Radioactive waste management

Future technical assistance activities will focus on Northwest Russia and, possibly, Southern Urals.

- North West Russia

The safe management of spent nuclear fuel from icebreakers and submarines and of radioactive waste in Northwest Russia is a major safety issue. Reference is made to the political discussions held on this issue at the May 1998 EU/Russia summit and in the framework of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
With EU support, some problems related to the spent fuel and waste management in the Northwest region of Russia have been identified and possible solutions are already being assessed. One important objective of a Tacis project is also to assist in the setting up of an appropriate regional management scheme to deal with the issue. On the basis of these actions and in co-operation with other potential donors, an effort for the establishment of a comprehensive strategy is being made in the framework of the Contact Expert Group (CEG). It is expected that such a strategy will include the completion of the Lepse project, the development of safe spent fuel and waste storage facilities and the transfer into such facilities of spent fuel and wastes presently held in less than ideal conditions at places such as Andreeva Bay. There is an urgent need to identify sites where new storage facilities could be built. In parallel with the identification of priority actions, it is important that obstacles that have so far delayed any field action be removed.

- Southern Urals

It is impossible to address the issue of the need for spent fuel and radioactive waste storage in Northwest Russia without reference to the same problem at Mayak. A first stage could be a common assessment of the Russian strategy for this location and an examination of possible areas for EU assistance, taking into account Russian decisions on planned facilities and possible support by other donors.

3.3 Decommissioning: comprehensive approach to power reactor and research reactor decommissioning

A number of power and research reactors have already ceased operation in Russia, others are near ceasing operation. Therefore all matters related to shutting down and decommissioning reactors are important for Russia and could be considered for support by the EU. They might include assessment of related technical, economic, financial and social aspects.

3.4 Safeguards

Since 1994, Tacis supports activities in this area. They aim at improving the safeguards system in Russia. An adequate control of all nuclear materials is a key non-proliferation issue. The Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and MINATOM implement these projects with a contribution from Gosatomnadzor. MINATOM and the Commission have set up a Joint Steering Committee (JSC) for this action. The establishment of the Russian Methodological and Training Centre in Obninsk (RMTC)provides the training of both operators and inspectors and the technical support to Russian operators. The creation of the Ural Siberian Training and Methodological Centre (UrSiMTC) in Snezhinsk will complete the process in providing training and services to operators involved in the back end of the fuel cycle and to inspectors. The technical co-operation concerns the metrological and analytical laboratories and the development of an industrial base for the production in Russia of appropriate instrumentation. For future years, the support to safeguards in Russia should enter into a more operational phase aiming to ensure the sustainability of the process. It is planned to put the emphasis on the dissemination of safeguards culture through the two methodological and training centres, in close continued co-operation with the JRC, and to spread out technological support for the installation of the necessary safeguards equipment in nuclear installations in Russia as well as to Gosatomnadzor. This should allow the implementation of Nuclear material accountancy and control in NPPs and in fuel cycle facilities and support to the Gosatomnadzor regional centres. Furthermore, the industrial co-operation on safeguards equipment will be pursued in order to involve new partners and to cover new key areas.

4. Russian participation

The renewed emphasis on partnership, sustainability and multiplying effect calls for a reassessment of the Russian involvement in the programme. The Commission will ensure more transparency and dialogue with the beneficiaries at all stages of the programme and project cycles. This will also improve their commitment to the objectives and the modalities of the programme. An important aspect is the increased involvement of the beneficiaries in the preparation of Terms of Reference. The programme should make adequate use of the available local engineering and industrial capacities. The Commission and Minatom will engage in a constructive dialogue to analyse the possible specific procedural and contractual provisions of such participation.
At this stage, the following aspects are considered relevant:
- It is necessary to ensure a better dissemination of information to Russian organisations suitable to participate in project preparation (Terms of Reference) and implementation, either as possible main contractors or as subcontractors.
- Whenever possible, technology transfer and involvement of local organisations in the production of equipment in the framework of Tacis projects should be considered with special attention.
- Whenever possible, projects should include a significant training part, in the contractor’s own installations where appropriate.

5. Implementation

· Larger projects
In order to minimise the burden associated with the management of a large number of small contracts, clear preference will be given to larger projects.
· Budget commitments only when project preparation well advanced (Terms of reference, project definition and schedule for PIP). In order to shorten the actual project and contract duration, projects will be presented for budget decisions after definition of Terms of Reference.
· Establishment and use of a specific Bistro instrument for projects up to ¼_100 000 In order not to limit the assistance to big projects, a specific BISTRO instrument could be established and dedicated to nuclear safety. This instrument could be very suitable for managing small contracts, as it allows to react rapidly to unplanned requests. It could cover activities such as training sessions, seminars, small and urgent equipment, feasibility studies, etc.
· Joint Management Unit (JMU) functions
The JMU has been established in 1998. Its role in the implementation of the new approach will be important. Its essential tasks include assistance to programming, simplifying access to the information and assisting in programme implementation. It will keep in continuous contact with the Russian parties and the Commission services.
· European Commission Delegation function
The activities of the delegation cover the management of the Bistro instrument, keeping in continuous contact with the JMU and interfacing with other European Community Science and Research related actions such as those within the ISTC, the 5 th Framework Programme etc.
· Interface with other Commission supported programmes
Issues related to the scope of the Tacis programme as outlined above are also addressed by other Commission programmes and International programmes to which the Commission contributes. The Commission will ensure appropriate coordination of these actions, in particular for the 5 th R&D Framework programme which gives new emphasis to international co-operation, including with Russian scientific organisations and for the ISTC which offers the possibility to support nuclear safety R&D projects conducted in Russia by scientists previously involved in the development of weapon of mass destruction.
Whenever relevant, appropriate information on these activities will be considered in Tacis projects.
· Ongoing projects
The Commission and the Russian authorities undertake to make their best efforts to complete on-going Tacis projects. They will develop a set of practical measures to that end.

Tacis Supervisory Board

The Tacis Supervisory Board (TSB) provides for senior level general co-ordination and supervision of programming and implementation of the Tacis Nuclear Safety programmes for the Russian Federation. TSB operates on the basis of Terms of Reference agreed between the Commission and the Russian authorities.

6. Consultations

The highest political forum for the EU-Russia relations is the Partnership and Co-operation
Agreement. It will provide for discussion of nuclear safety issues. More detailed consultations will be held in the Tacis Nuclear Safety Supervisory Board, established between the parties. Consultations will in particular ensure adequate use of experience feed back in defining future programmes.