On 30th June, 2020, the Paks II. Ltd. submitted the construction license application for the new nuclear units to the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority. The regulatory procedure will start on the 1st of July 2020. To make a decision, the HAEA has 12 months that can be extended with additional 3 months if needed.
HAEA is prepared for the decision-making
In order to process the license application efficiently, a dedicated work programme with a tight time schedule will commence to review tens of thousands of pages of documentation, since multiple disciplines will be involved in this complex process. The complexity of this task is shown by the fact that more than half of the 180 staff members of the HAEA will participate in this project. Meanwhile, HAEA will also perform its other regulatory duties, such as supervising nuclear and radioactive waste storage and disposal facilities, other users of radiation sources, and also handling other license applications, and fulfilling its international obligations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also reviews the compliance of the Preliminary Safety Analysis Report with the safety standards
For the evaluation of the construction license application the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority will also rely on the opinion of external experts as well. The HAEA has invited an IAEA Technical Safety Review Mission starting at the end of 2020. The goal is to have an independent international expert review in the coordination of the IAEA on the Preliminary Safety Analysis Report, which serves as the base of the construction license application. During the review process, the review team will evaluate whether the planned new units at Paks comply with the IAEA safety standards. The report with their findings will be taken into account by HAEA during its decision-making.
After three months, it is already possible to submit other license applications related to the new nuclear units
According to this year's amendment to the Nuclear Safety Codes (NSC), building permit applications for certain site preparation activities (e.g. soil improvement, excavation of the foundation pit, slurry wall construction) and permit applications for manufacturing long lead items (e.g. reactor pressure vessel) can be submitted no earlier than three months after having submitted the construction license application. It has to be highlighted that even with these permits issued, the licensee can only start any preparatory works at its own risk as modifications might be necessary based on the findings of the construction licencing procedure (thus already issued permits can be modified or withdrawn later on, if necessary). The building permitting procedures for nuclear safety related constructions may also start after the three-month period, however, these permits cannot be issued by the HAEA before the construction license is issued.
The activities of the Paks II. Ltd. are continuously monitored
The HAEA continuously monitors, inspects and evaluates the activities of the Paks II. Ltd. even during the construction license procedure. The HAEA has carried out a number of inspections so far, for example in the areas of the design review process, the supplier’s supervision, training, management system development, as well as on-site activities, such as the construction of the construction support base buildings and the implementation of on-site engineering surveys (engineer-geotechnical research). In addition, the HAEA also reviewed certain areas in the framework of a comprehensive inspection: the compliance of the integrated management system was reviewed in 2016, and the design review process in 2019 by the HAEA. The HAEA constantly monitors the qualification and evaluation process of the contractors in the supply chain.
The safety of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant cannot be compromised during the construction
During the construction, special attention needs to be paid to the safe operation of the existing units of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant and the Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility near the construction area. Among others that is why any preparatory activities or the excavation of the foundation pit of the new nuclear units have to be carried out with utmost care.
What has been done so far?
In 2014, the HAEA issued the site investigation and evaluation license, and in 2017 the site license. Permits for the construction of several construction support base buildings (e.g. office building, kitchen, canteen, workshop and storage buildings) were also issued.
Click here to find more information on the construction of the new nuclear power plant units.