IAEA Celebrates World Book and Copyright Day

…Releases New Recommendations On SMRs From The SMR Regulators’ Forum

By Elodie Broussard

Increasing access to electricity and powering economieswhile minimizing greenhouse gas emissions are central goals of manygovernments, and advanced nuclear power reactor designs, including smallmodular reactors (SMRs), can play a crucial role in meeting these goals.However, novel approaches to their design and deployment pose challenges to theexisting regulatory framework.

Although the IAEA safety standards – which serve as a globalreference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects ofionizing radiation – can generally be applied to SMRs, experts from the SMRRegulators’ Forum are working on a tailor-made solution to help nationalauthorities regulate this new class of nuclear power reactors.

Their new safety recommendations for SMRs are now availableonline, following a meeting of experts working on the development of nationalstandards specific to SMRs. This new generation of nuclear power reactors, withoutput of no more than 300 MW(e) per unit, offers the possibility of flexiblesupply, including in combination with renewables, while being deployable eitheras single or multi-module plant.

“The SMR Regulators’ Forum considers that deployment of SMRsrequires a flexible regulatory framework to address the specific safetychallenges related to novel aspects of proposed designs,” said AssociateNuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA, Camille Scotto De Cesar, who works withForum members. “It has published new recommendations on safety implicationsthat arise from the use of modularity and compactness of SMRs and on the SMRlifecycle licensing framework.”

Hosted by the IAEA, the SMR Regulators’ Forum is aninternational group of regulators working on the challenges of regulating thenovel designs of SMRs. Founded in March 2015, the Forum gathers nine countriesand other stakeholders sharing SMR regulatory knowledge and experience.Together, they identify and propose solutions to common safety issues that maychallenge regulatory reviews associated with SMRs.

“The work of the SMR Regulators’ Forum allows us to betterunderstand the current state of practice and challenges in licensing of SMRs,”said Director of Nuclear Installation Safety Division at the IAEA, GregRzentkowski. “Although currently we have no plans to develop specific safetystandards for SMRs, we will use these insights in the establishment of ourholistic, technology neutral, framework for safety of nuclear installations,which also applies to novel designs, to help harmonize international approachesby using the IAEA safety standards.” To be effective, the regulators must beprepared to recalibrate the current model of regulations by increasing relianceon risk and performance insights, he added.

We have asked Karine Herviou,Director at the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN,France) and member of the Forum, to present these latest recommendations.

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