The European Commission welcomes the publication by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) of the report and country findings of the first topical peer review (TPR) under the amended Nuclear Safety Directive. The timely and effective completion of this review highlights the continuous improvement of nuclear safety in the EU and neighbouring countries. The Commission, whose duty is to monitor the implementation of the Directive, initiated the exercise in close co-operation with ENSREG, followed and supported it all the way. Such a review will now take place every six years in line with the requirements of the Directive.
In total, 19 countries (16 EU countries, Norway, Ukraine, and Switzerland) participated in the peer review. The added value of the exercise is that it is based on comprehensive factual expertise built up by the regulators.
The review highlights that ageing management programmes, based on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety standards and Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) reference levels, are in place for all nuclear power plants. While the review did not identify any major deficiencies in European approaches to regulate and implement ageing management programmes for nuclear power plants, it highlighted wide differences in national approaches. The report lists as many as 19 areas in which each country should reach an ‘expected level of performance’ defined in the report to ensure a consistent and acceptable management of ageing throughout Europe.
However, ageing management programmes for research reactors are neither regulated nor implemented systematically and comprehensively and therefore require further attention from both regulators and licensees.
The Commission calls on national authorities to develop action plans, as stipulated by the amended Nuclear Safety Directive, to ensure the timely implementation of all measures and expresses its willingness to support and participate in the review of their implementation. These plans should address the results of the self-assessments and respond to the country specific findings in order to reach the 'expected level of performance'. Furthermore, the European Commission considers that countries should explore all generic findings of this peer review and to study their applicability to improve the regulation and implementation of ageing management programmes at each nuclear power plant and research reactor.
According to the decision taken by ENSREG on 4 October, these national action plans should be published in September 2019 and will be analysed by ENSREG. The Commission will continue to follow and support the process.
The Commission will also analyse the lessons learned in view of the next topical peer review, such as the introduction of the country visits or engaging more experts. It will also continue to promote the public debate on the safety issues addressed by topical peer reviews.
Recognising the importance of peer review mechanisms in delivering continuous improvement to nuclear safety, the amended Nuclear Safety Directive introduced a European system of topical peer reviews (TPR). This was largely inspired by the peer review process used during the nuclear stress tests undertaken after the Fukushima accident in 2011. Unlike the stress tests, national assessments, which will be subject to TPRs, will each time focus on different specific technical safety aspects.
The subject 'ageing management' was chosen on the basis of the age profile and the potential long term operation of European nuclear power plants. The TPR exercise was developed by ENSREG, an independent, expert advisory group with members from all EU countries and the European Commission, with the technical support of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association. The licensees made self-assessments, based on which national regulators prepared the National Assessment Reports (NARs), published at the end of 2017. In January 2018, the NARs were made available for questions and comments from stakeholders. More than 2300 questions were asked by peer reviewers, experts and civil society when reviewing the national reports. A peer-review workshop took place in Luxembourg last May involving around 140 experts. In May 2018, ENSREG organized a one-week workshop to discuss the results of the self-assessments, the questions and comments on the NARs, as well as the replies to the questions.
The preparation of this first TPR was fully transparent and stakeholders’ engagement and the involvement of the civil society were guaranteed during the full process. The main documents setting the scope, organisation and content of this TPR, namely the Terms of Reference and the Technical Specifications, were published and submitted to public consultations and a public meeting was held in May 2018. A second public meeting is scheduled for late November.
29 October 2018