At the Kananaskis Summit, the G8 Leaders agreed to establish the G8 Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG). The NSSG, responsible to Leaders, through Sherpas, provide technically informed, strategic policy advice on issues that could impact safety and security in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, in close co-operation with multilateral organizations and avoiding duplication of tasks or responsibilities that are addressed adequately by existing organizations or entities.
Earthquake and tsunami in Japan
The NSSG expressed to the Japanese people its deepest sympathy and offered their condolences for the devastation caused by the massive earthquake and the tsunami. The Group praised the courage, composure and resilience of the Japanese people throughout these hardships.
The tsunami caused by the earthquake adversely impacted several Japanese nuclear reactors. Considering that all-out efforts are being made to mitigate the situation and to analyze the sequence of events and to identify lessons, the NSSG considered that the question of the safe and secure use of nuclear energy should be addressed as a key priority on the G8 agenda.
NSSG Policy Agenda
Under the 2011 French Presidency, France proposed to address four points: nuclear safety, nuclear liability, radioactive waste management and management of the decommissioning process with the objective to highlight into the G8 Leaders' declaration the importance of these points for the safe and responsible use of nuclear energy.
1. Nuclear Safety
In the context of the Fukushima events, the NSSG decided to make nuclear safety and its challenges the primary focus of NSSG work under the French Presidency. The NSSG agreed that the G8 should endorse a strong political statement on nuclear safety, drawn from the following views.
The first priority is to learn any immediate lessons from the Fukushima accident. The NSSG welcomed the initiative taken by many countries to carry out comprehensive risk and safety assessments of their existing nuclear installations, and invited all other countries operating nuclear installations to launch similar assessments as soon as possible;
Such assessments should be carried out in the light of lessons identified from recent events, bearing in mind a multiplicity of factors, such as resilience to external shocks, including but not limited to cumulated risks, and proper planning of measures to be adopted in order to mitigate the repercussions of a nuclear accident, such as;
- severe natural hazards,
- earthquake risk and the design of nuclear installations;
- risk of shortage of electricity, due also to multiple common mode failures ;
- risk of a disruption of cooling backup systems ;
- simultaneous risks to multi-unit sites ;
- measures to mitigate the repercussions of a serious accident ;
- emergency preparedness, crisis management, and post-accident management ;
Nevertheless, the events in Japan, triggered by a large scale natural calamity, must invite any country not only to carry out targeted reassessments of the safety of nuclear installations but also to consider safety assessments at every stage of a nuclear installation's lifetime, to continuously improve nuclear safety and to promote the highest safety levels worldwide ;
The NSSG reaffirmed the high priority of safety in the design and siting of new reactors and the importance of design improvements, as operating and construction experience is gained. New designs should further consider at all stages a comprehensive safety analysis of normal operation and abnormal events, accidents with and without core melt, independence between all levels of defence, safety and security interfaces, radiation protection and waste management;
Operating nuclear installations is a huge responsibility. The NSSG urged countries embarking on nuclear energy programs to apply the relevant IAEA standards and guidance. This includes adoption of an appropriate national nuclear framework for nuclear safety, covering regulatory infrastructure; emergency preparedness and response programmes; allocation of adequate resources (human, financial) for that framework; establishment of a system of licensing ; provision of an independent and transparent regulatory body ... The establishment of a "safety culture" at the operator and government level is a key step towards the safe and responsible operation of nuclear installations worldwide.
In addition to national or regional initiatives already launched to reassess existing nuclear installations, the NSSG underscored the importance of international cooperation on nuclear safety. They encouraged countries that have not already done so to join the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, and the Conventions on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, and the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment. This international cooperation, between governments, regulatory bodies and operators will result in improved transparency between the main worldwide nuclear safety stakeholders and will strengthen safety culture worldwide.
2. Radioactive waste management and decommissioning
The NSSG considered that issues related to radioactive waste and spent fuel management and decommissioning need to be addressed as part of a safe, secure and responsible use of nuclear energy.
The Group emphasized the importance in particular of proper consideration of radioactive waste and spent fuel management and of decommissioning. Such considerations are necessary to protect the environment and future generations. Thereby, the NSSG expressed the view that the adoption of transparent national policies and national frameworks should be promoted, in order to allocate cradle to grave responsibilities (including financial provisions) regarding management of radioactive waste and spent fuel and the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, in accordance with international standards where applicable.
International Initiative on 3S-Based Nuclear Energy Infrastructure
The NSSG shared best practices and lessons learned in implementing the International Initiative on 3S-Based Nuclear Energy Infrastructure (S for Safety, Security and Safeguards, hereinafter referred to as the 3S Initiative), that was launched at the 2008 Hokkaido Toyako Summit.
The NSSG identified the following key findings:
- As 3S-related international instruments, such as the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the Conventions on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency and the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material play an important role in establishing a national infrastructure for nuclear energy, ratification of these conventions is strongly encouraged.
- The IAEA documents such as "Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power, IAEA Nuclear Energy Series No. NG-G-3.1" and Safety Guide on "Establishing a Safety Infrastructure for a National Power Programme (SSG 16)" are useful references for contributing to 3S and developing the relevant infrastructure for nuclear power programme. The NSSG encouraged the preparation by IAEA of a document dedicated to nuclear security infrastructure for national power programme.
- The existence of an effective independent and competent nuclear regulatory body is crucial to a national nuclear energy programme; and therefore, international assistance to strengthen the regulatory infrastructure and the nuclear regulatory body including through collaboration between nuclear regulatory bodies is useful and effective in this regard.
- As training and education constitute an integral part of human resource development for nuclear energy programs, effective international cooperation programmes including train-the-trainers courses and regional mechanisms for information sharing should be well developed to ensure knowledge transfer and capacity building.
- Review and assessment by a country using nuclear energy is recommended to understand the task ahead to tackle challenges facing the country.
- Peer review and advisory services provided by the IAEA are strongly encouraged to identify challenges facing a country in the field of safety and security infrastructures. G8 members will continue to take actions as necessary on a voluntary basis under 3S Initiative in cooperation with or complementary to IAEA activities.
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Projects
While the international community is now engaged in a renewed effort to strengthening nuclear safety worldwide the NSSG underscored the importance of remaining resolute in its existing commitments to the long-term safety and security at Chernobyl. The NSSG reconfirmed that Chernobyl remains a high priority in its agenda
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) updated the NSSG regularly on progress of the projects funded by the Nuclear Safety Account (NSA) and the Chernobyl Shelter Fund (CSF), to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition.
Under the French Presidency, the G8 NSSG - EBRD Chernobyl Contact Group continued to follow the progress of those projects.
The recently agreed working schedule for the construction of the New Safe Confinement provides for the Arch to be slid into position in July 2015 and commissioned in the autumn of 2015. Also the Spent Fuel Storage Facility, which will provide dry storage for the more than 20,000 spent fuel assemblies from the operation of the Chernobyl NPP, will be completed in 2015.
During the first months of 2011, which marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe, the Chernobyl Contact Group was particularly active in providing support to the organization of the Chernobyl Pledging Conference, which was held in Kiev on 19 April as part of the 25th anniversary commemoration events
The NSSG noted with great satisfaction that on this occasion the international donors, together with Ukraine and the EBRD, were able to pledge about € 550 million. This achievement testifies the collective sense of responsibility of the donor countries, in spite of the difficult economic context.
Some countries were not in a position to announce a contribution, but they reiterated their commitment to the projects and it is anticipated that they will be able to make a decision in a near future. Under the assumption that additional contributions from these and other countries, as well as from the EBRD, will shortly be announced, the NSSG is confident that this will allow these projects to be completed by 2015.
While recognising the complexity and the tight working schedule of the final stages of the Chernobyl projects, the NSSG urged that all the parties involved must redouble efforts to implement them within the agreed timescales and costs.
The NSSG also highlighted that the smooth implementation of the projects depends upon a continued reliable and stable institutional framework both in relation to support for the works at the Chernobyl site, and more widely in terms of a committed and supportive political environment in Ukraine.
In this regard, the Group viewed the critical importance of the Ukrainian Government making the required institutional and financial provisions to ensure the efficient and successful implementation of the programme. The NSSG also urged the Ukrainian Government to consider what long term internal financial structures can be put in place to ensure that decommissioning and deconstruction can continue once the donor programmes have drawn to a close.
Modernization and upgrade of Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plants
The NSSG maintained its role in overseeing and tracking the developments with nuclear safety of the Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plants.
According to the 1995 Memorandum of Understanding between the G7 and the European Commission (EC) and Ukraine on the closure of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) by the year 2000, the G7 and the EC undertook to cooperate with Ukraine and IFIs to finance projects concerning the completion of the Khmelnitsky unit 2 (K2) and Rovno unit 4 (R4) NPPs. In this context, the EBRD and Euratom provide loans to finance the post start-up 'Modernisation Programme' of K2R4 amounting to USD 125 million (83 M Euratom plus 42 M EBRD) which were approved in July 2004. Full implementation of the 'Modernisation Programme' was satisfactorily completed in 2010.
In order to assess the nuclear safety of the Ukrainian NPPs and the need for possible corrective measures, a joint evaluation was carried out by Ukraine, the EC and the IAEA (2008-2010). The Ukrainian Government approved the "Complex Consolidated Safety Upgrade Programme for Ukrainian NPPs" (CCSUP) for the safety improvement of all Ukrainian NPPs in 2010. The ultimate objective being that the Ukrainian NPPs satisfy internationally recognized nuclear safety standards. In December 2009 Ukraine submitted requests for Euratom and EBRD loans to finance, to maximum possible extent, the implementation of the CCSUP. The total cost of the project had been estimated by Ukraine at EUR 1404 million. The request is currently under review.