AERB signs the two agreements with ASN and IRSN

Besides the five agreements in the nuclear field that were announced on December 6 by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) during the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, two more agreements between India and France were signed here on the same date in the area of nuclear safety. For some reason, these were not included in MEA's announcement.

The first is an agreement between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). This is for exchange of technical information and cooperation in regulation of nuclear safety and radiation protection. It was signed by AERB Chairman S. S. Bajaj, and ASN Chairman Andre Claude Lacoste.

According to AERB Secretary R. Bhattacharya, the accord provides for exchange of information in the development of nuclear plant safety review process. It also provides for exchange of experts and technical and regulatory information relating to radiation protection and safety of nuclear facilities.

“This agreement renews and updates the existing arrangement, which is in force since 1999 and subsequently renewed in 2005,” says an AERB release issued on Wednesday.

The second agreement is on technical cooperation between the AERB and the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). Called the AERB-IRSN Framework Agreement for general cooperation in nuclear safety, it was signed by Mr. Bajaj and Jacqus Repussard, Director General of IRSN.

The agreement covers areas such as exchange or secondment of staff, exchange of materials or software, joint studies and joint projects in the area of nuclear safety.

Interesting addition

An IRSN press release, issued on Wednesday from Paris, however, has an interesting addition. “By signing this agreement,” it said, “both organisations are illustrating their resolve to enhance cooperation in this massively important field, particularly within the context of the forthcoming construction of two EPR nuclear reactors at the Jaitapur site.”

While the implication of this statement is not very clear, Mr. Bhattacharya said there was no particular reference to Jaitapur in the actual agreement.

However, since the AERB would be involved in the technology assessment and review of the European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs), this agreement provided for general exchange of information on the EPR technology in the development of the review process by AERB, he said.

IRSN is the technical support organisation for the ASN just as the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) is for the AERB. This agreement basically extends to the AERB the earlier scientific and technical cooperation that was in existence for over 10 years between the IRSN and the BARC.

More In: National | News