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AERB should get regulatory independence by law: IRRS

The draft report submitted by the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after reviewing legal and regulatory framework related to the safety of nuclear power plants and projects within India has recommended regulatory independence to Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) by law.

The previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had introduced a bill in Lok Sabha to grant regulatory independence to the AERB following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. However, following the general election and constitution of new Lok Sabha, the bill was lapsed and needs to be introduced again.

 “The Board is functionally independent from the Department of Atomic energy (DAE) as well as from the influence of licensees, but there’s scope for strengthening that independence by enacting an Act,” said S. S. Bajaj, Chairman, AERB, while addressing a press conference at Anushakti Bhavan in Mumbai.

 

Among other recommendations, the report has asked the central government to promulgate a national policy and strategy for safety and radioactive waste management strategy.

 

The AERB is working on a strategy to segregate high level radioactive waste to make it begin sooner.

 

“In India, we recycle the spent fuel and process the plutonium and other material and reuse them. The remaining radioactive waste, mainly the actinides, are vitrified and stored at safe storage. We are now working on further segregating these minor actinides, mainly responsible for the long shelf life of the radioactive waste, so that the remaining waste will become benign in three hundred years, making storage easy,” explained  Mr. Bajaj.

 

The report, while acknowledging India’s comprehensive and well-established national educational and training system that supports competence-building for its nuclear program has also suggested a number of vital initiatives to the AERB.

 

“The report has asked the AERB to increase the frequency of routine on-site inspections at Nuclear Power Projects (NPPs) for more effective regulatory oversight,” said Mr. Bajaj.

 

The report has also recommended the AERB to develop and implement its own internal emergency arrangements.     

 

“A number of recommendations in the report were already under our consideration and we are working on it,” said Mr. Bajaj.

 

The IRRS is a peer review service of the IAEA which involves the peer review of the country’s legal and regulatory framework for safety against the globally accepted IAEA safety standards. It is conducted at the request of a country, which is a member of IAEA.

 

India had formally extended the request to IAEA in January 2014 to undertake the IRRS mission. A team of 18 experts was headed by Ramzi Jammal, Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officers at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. It included members from Bulgaria, UK, USA, Finland, Netherlands, Israel etc. The draft report of the IRRS mission was handed over to the government on March 27, 2015.

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2020 12:31:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/aerb-should-get-regulatory-independence-by-law-says-report-by-international-review-service/article7053895.ece

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