This six-monthly meeting, hosted in Liverpool by the ONR, the British nuclear safety regulator, was an opportunity for the association to address a number of important topics.
WENRA endorsed the criteria to be used when a country wishes to join the association as an observer or when an observer member wishes to become an associated member. This endorsement is a key step for WENRA, as it clarifies an important issue regarding its organisation and operation.
WENRA’s members discussed the new nuclear context, with the ongoing energy crisis, the war in Ukraine and the need to address climate change. This new context creates a number of challenges for all the stakeholders. The safety regulators from several countries presented their national situation, their concerns, and safety aspects requiring particularly close attention. As many of these points are common to several countries, WENRA drew up a declaration highlighting the importance of nuclear safety in the context of the current energy crisis. This declaration was published on the WENRA and ASN websites.
WENRA’s members discussed the growing interest being shown by several stakeholders in small modular reactors (SMR) and the numerous ongoing initiatives in this area, in particular to promote international harmonisation within the industry and between safety regulators. WENRA confirmed that these initiatives should enable the safety regulators to carry out their national responsibilities in a well-informed manner, and that the largest possible number of safety regulators should take part in the assessment of projects which have reached a sufficient level of maturity, as early as possible. WENRA’s members decided to continue their cooperation in order to define the general safety objectives of these types of reactors, on the basis of feedback from SMR assessments conducted at an early stage in their design.
The Ukrainian nuclear safety regulator (SNRIU) presented the safety situation in the nuclear facilities affected by the war. WENRA reaffirmed its commitment to providing SNRIU with full support, notably through the expert group that it set up specifically last March for this purpose. This group in particular identified the various modelling capacities that could be rapidly activated in Europe in order to predict the consequences of an accident in a Ukrainian facility, and to compare the results on test-cases.
The WENRA working groups presented their activities. Comparison of the implementation of the most representative “safety reference levels” in the NPPs of the various WENRA countries was confirmed as being a priority: in addition to harmonisation of the regulations, this work will contribute to an evaluation of the actual level of safety harmonisation among Europe’s NPPs.
Finally, following on from its discussions on the new context, WENRA decided to examine its current strategy with a view to developing a new one, more in line with the new environment and the new challenges the safety regulators will be facing in the coming years.
Date of last update : 05/12/2022