- EC Nuclear Safety Programmes
EC Nuclear Safety Programmes
Following the catastrophic accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 opened the gate for Western countries to support Ukraine in improving safety within its nuclear industry.
The European Union’s engagement with Ukraine began in 1991, with the establishment of a financing instrument for ‘Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States’ (TACIS).
In the field of Nuclear Safety, the TACIS Instrument was superseded in January 2007 by the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC). The INSC Programme which was available to support nuclear safety improvement to all third countries with nuclear generation, was implemented in two phases:
- Phase 1 implementation, 2007 to 2013
- Phase 2 implementation, 2014 to 2020
- Assuring the highest standards of independent nuclear regulation;
- The safe management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel;
- Improved safeguarding of nuclear materials.
EC Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States – TACIS
Pursuant to the European Council in Dublin and in Rome in 1990, the Community introduced a technical assistance programme in favour of economic reform and recovery in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Two Council Regulations (1991-1995: EEC, Euratom No 2157/91 of 15 July 1991, 1996-1999: Euratom, EC No 1279/96 of 25 June 1996) covering the period from 1991 to 1999 made available approximately 4,221 million euro for assistance to the partner countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
The next Council Regulation (EC, Euratom No 99/2000 of 29 December 1999) earmarks 3,138 million euro for TACIS assistance during the period from 2000 to 2006.
The aim of TACIS was to transfer know-how through technical assistance, including undertaking studies, preparation of plans, and giving advice and training. Consultants from the EU countries worked with the beneficiaries with the aim of transferring know-how and skills, which were intended to be replicated by other projects and organisations in the recipient country. The aid was financed through payments from the Community budget being made directly to the European contractors providing the technical assistance.
The TACIS programme was based on the principles and objectives set out in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements and Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreements, in the context of which the Community, its Member States and the partner States worked together to support initiatives of common interest.
In the area of nuclear safety, the programme focused on three priorities:
- Supporting the promotion of an effective nuclear safety culture in line with the principles of the Convention on nuclear safety, in particular through continuous support for regulatory bodies and, at the plant level, through on-site assistance, including equipment supplies, where such assistance is most needed;
- Supporting the development and implementation of spent fuel, decommissioning and nuclear waste management strategies, including in Northwest Russia in the context of wider international cooperation;
- Contributing to relevant EU supported international initiatives such as the G7/EU initiative on the closure of Chornobyl.
Therefore, the provision of EU support in the field of nuclear safety in Ukraine, between 1991 and 2006, focused on, but was not limited to, the following key areas:
- Assuring a sound independent regulatory framework;
- Assuring improved safety of the country’s operating NPPs;
- Preparatory works associated with the safe decommissioning of Chornobyl NPP, and
- Supporting Ukraine in making safe the damaged Unit 4 at Chornobyl NPP.
Through the TACIS Programme, the EU delivered more than 475 nuclear safety improvement projects, with a financial contribution of more than four hundred million Euro in Ukraine.
In January 2007 TACIS was replaced by the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC).
EC Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation – INSC
TACIS was replaced in 2007 by the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC). Phase 1 of INSC was in operation from January 2007 until the end of December 2013, and focused on:
- Improving nuclear safety, particularly in terms of regulatory framework and management of nuclear plant safety (design, operation, maintenance, decommissioning);
- Safe transport, treatment, and disposal of radioactive waste;
- Remediation of former nuclear sites and the protection against ionising radiation given off by radioactive materials;
- Emergency preparedness and response (accident prevention as well as reaction in the event of an accident), and
- Promotion of international cooperation in the field of nuclear safety.
The objectives of INSC Phase 2 (2014 – 2020), were then consolidated as:
- The promotion of an effective nuclear safety culture and implementation of the highest nuclear safety and radiation protection standards, and continuous improvement of nuclear safety;
- Responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste and remediation of former nuclear sites and installations;
- The establishment of frameworks and methodologies for the application of efficient and effective safeguards for nuclear material in third countries.
The European Commission’s support in Ukraine under INSC, focused on the implementation of projects with ‘soft’ deliverables (i.e., fewer projects necessitating supply of equipment). Within the Operator Sector for example, cooperation has been related to the implementation of projects to support safety culture improvement, emergency preparedness, the introduction of best international practice in NPP maintenance, as well as modern approaches to the safe management and operation of NPPs.
A key cornerstone project related to the improvement of safety culture, was the joint EU/Ukraine project to establish a ‘National Maintenance and Management Training Centre’ for NNEGC Energoatom. The project, which commenced in 2009, saw the EU funded elements completed in 2012, with full operation of the Energoatom constructed training centre being achieved in 2018. The training centre features the only full scope simulator of VVER 1000 nuclear reactor in the world.
Given the positive results of the joint EC/IAEA/Ukrainian nuclear safety review, which were published in 2010, together with the vastly improved financial stability of Ukraine’s Nuclear Operator, direct support to nuclear Operator via the INSC Programme was phased out after 2012. However, NNEGC Energoatom continues to benefit from its strategic partnership with the EU, through a six hundred million Euro Euratom/EBRD loan, which has supported the implementation of the Company’s ‘Comprehensive Safety Upgrade Programme’.
Together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine and the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, NNEGC Energoatom continues its association with the EU nuclear safety programme through the Task Force for the definition of the EU funded programme of nuclear safety cooperation.
INSC has promoted high standards of nuclear safety amongst nuclear regulators in non-EU countries, radiation protection and the application of efficient and effective safeguards for nuclear materials. Focus has been on providing support to build and further develop nuclear and radiation safety capacities, to enable the involved countries to achieve their nuclear energy strategies in accordance with best international safe practice.
Special attention is paid to safeguards as the proliferation of uncontrolled nuclear material poses a major security risk should it fall into the hands of terrorists. Additionally, in Ukraine, in support of mitigating the effects of the 1986 Chornobyl accident, several initiatives to improve the health and environmental situation of the population in and around the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone have been implemented.
While the EU recognises that the use of nuclear power is a sovereign decision, it is in the EU’s best interest that nuclear installations are operated safely, and that nuclear materials are properly accounted for. The EU views the establishment of a robust and solid nuclear framework as a global priority. This is to be achieved through effective cooperation aimed at preventing accidents and establishing consensus on the highest safety standards. The INSC Programme directly responds to the need for EU action in the field of nuclear safety by pursuing these goals.
Evolution of the INSC budget allocated to Ukraine in the AAPs 2007 – 2020 (figures in MEuro). CSF – Chornobyl Shelter Fund and NSA – Nuclear Safety Account.
During this first phase, the Instrument covered more than 20 partner countries worldwide and had a budget of EUR 525 million, i.e., around EUR 75 million per year.
The Fukushima Daiichi accident of March 2011, along with the legacy of Chornobyl, highlight the ongoing global importance of nuclear and radiation safety and confirmed the need to continue efforts to support further improvements and to meet the highest standards at the global level. Both accidents clearly demonstrated that the health, social, environmental, and economic consequences of a nuclear accident may extend well beyond national borders and, potentially, worldwide.
Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the EU initiated comprehensive risk and safety assessments of operating nuclear power plants within the EU and its neighbouring countries.
In line with the provisions of the Council Regulation (EURATOM) No 237/2014 of 13.12.2013, Cooperation under the Phase 2 of the INSC pursues the following specific objectives:
- the promotion of an effective nuclear safety culture and implementation of the highest nuclear safety and radiation protection standards, and continuous improvement of nuclear safety;
- responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, namely transport, pre-treatment, treatment, processing, storage and disposal, and the decommissioning and remediation of former nuclear sites and installations;
- the establishment of frameworks and methodologies for the application of efficient and effective safeguards for nuclear material in third countries.
In June 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a European Instrument for International Nuclear Safety Cooperation (EI-INSC), which shall complement the Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument based on the Euratom Treaty (COM (2018)462. The new instrument replaced INSC in 2021 and will be in place until 2027.
European Instrument for International Nuclear Safety Cooperation – EI-INSC
In June 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a European Instrument for International Nuclear Safety Cooperation. The proposal was adopted on the 27th of May 2021 by Council Regulation 2021/948: “European Instrument for International Nuclear Safety Cooperation complementing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe on the basis of the Treaty establishing Euratom- Main contents”.
EI-INSC replaced INSC and will be in operation until December 2027, with a total budget of €300 M.
As with its predecessor, the geographic scope of the EI-INSC is worldwide. Thus, the Commission consider further contributions to the Nuclear Sector of Ukraine via the new instrument.
Continued EU support to Ukraine until 2027, specifically in radioactive waste management, will help provide the country with the much-needed additional resource, to align itself with its commitments of fully implementing its national radioactive waste management strategy by 2035.
It must be recognised that prior to 2022, many strategic improvements related to the development of a strong and safe RAW management in Ukraine have been achieved through SAUEZM implementing the results of numerous past TACIS and INSC Projects. It is anticipated that these strategic improvements will be further enhanced, through the results of two INSC Projects related to the establishment of a programme and project management infrastructure across SAUEZM, together with the introduction of an enhanced nuclear safety culture aligned with modern management practices. The results of these two projects will also support improved implementation of future EU Funded Projects and coordination with Ukraine’s own funding instruments.
Over the past eight years, Ukraine has faced many difficulties, the most recent and most extreme being the unprovoked invasion by the Russian Federation in February 2022.
Although the many nuclear and radiological facilities within the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone were not impacted to any great extent, occupation of the Zone by forces of the Russian Federation in February and March 2022, resulted in more than €100 M worth of infrastructure damage. It is anticipated that Russia’s temporary occupation of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia NPP, and their destruction of hospitals and industry will require currently inestimable support in radiological clean-up. The European Commission is working alongside other international donors, to support Ukraine in ensuring nuclear and radiation safety is maintained and where needed improved. Whilst the estimated collective required funding is enormous, EI-INSC will make a significant contribution toward the recovery programme.
The main goal for EI-INSC is to achieve a significant and sustainable improvement of nuclear and radiation safety and a visible improvement in the country’s nuclear safety culture.
Priorities of the European Instrument for International Nuclear Safety Cooperation in Ukraine are:
- supporting the promotion of an effective nuclear safety culture in line with the principles of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, in particular through continuous support for the Nuclear Regulator;
- supporting the development and implementation of spent fuel and nuclear waste management, and decommissioning strategies, in the context of wider international co-operation;
- supporting the application of efficient safeguards of nuclear materials.
Nuclear Safety Stakeholders
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