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Radiation Protection > Nuclear Safety

Radiation Protection



Nuclear Safety

The safety of nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities, including facilities for the production and enrichment of nuclear fuel, processing of irradiated nuclear fuel or for the nuclear waste storage, treatment and disposal, is the primary responsibility of persons managing the operation of such facilities (licensees) and is supervised by independent national regulatory authorities in the state where such facilities operate.

The European Union has adopted a uniform approach in relation to nuclear safety, since a nuclear accident could have negative consequences for countries across Europe and beyond.

The Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom requires Member States to establish and maintain a national framework for nuclear safety. This Directive reflects the provisions of international practice in the area of ​​nuclear safety and in particular of the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the safety fundamentals established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Cyprus is also a contracting party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (the relevant ratification law is available here in Greek) and participates in the review meetings of the Convention and submit relevant reports. Moreover, Cyprus has ratified other safety-related conventions, such as the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Nuclear Fuel and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the Conventions on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and Assistance in Case of Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities. In addition, Cyprus participates in the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG).


(Source: www.iaea.org)

The nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, renewed the international attention to the measures needed to minimise risks and ensure the highest levels of nuclear safety. Based on the conclusions of the European Council of 24-25 March 2011, the competent national regulatory authorities, together with the European Commission, in the framework of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), conducted in 2011 and 2012 risk and safety assessments (stress tests) in all nuclear power stations in the European Union. Neighbouring countries, such as Switzerland and Ukraine, participated fully to these evaluations.

The aim of these evaluations was to verify whether the safety standards applied in nuclear power stations are adequate, even in the event of unforeseen extreme weather conditions. Specifically, the simulations covered the ability of nuclear facilities to withstand damage from natural or man-made hazards, such as earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks or aircraft collisions.

The risk and safety assessments have shown that the safety standards of nuclear power plants in Europe are generally high; however they gave ground to make some recommendations for further improvements. Furthermore, the nuclear safety regulatory authorities of the Member States have drawn up national action plans, which have been assessed by independent experts from EU member states and the European Commission. The Communication of the Commission related to the comprehensive risk and safety assessments (stress tests) of nuclear plants and related activities in the European Union is available here. The final report of ENSREG (April 2012), as well as the reports of all countries (EU and neighbouring countries) involved in these evaluations are also available.

Based on the results of the stress tests, the lessons learned from the nuclear accident in Fukushima and the safety requirements of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), EU amended through the Directive 2014/87/Euratom of 8 July 2014 establishing a Community framework for nuclear safety of nuclear installations the older Directive 2009/71/Euratom (a consolidated version of the Directives is available here).

The new Directive requires EU member states to give the highest priority to nuclear safety at all stages of the life cycle of nuclear power plants. This involves performing safety assessments prior to the construction of new nuclear power plants and making significant safety improvements for old reactors.

In particular, the Directive:
  • strengthens the role of national regulatory authorities by ensuring their independence from national governments. Member States should ensure the effective independence of regulatory bodies from undue influence in their regulatory decision-making process, and provide them with the necessary resources and powers for the proper performance of the tasks assigned to them. In particular, the regulators must have sufficient legal powers, adequate staffing and sufficient financial resources for the proper performance of the responsibilities assigned to them.
  • creates a system of peer-reviews. Member States shall choose every six years a common issue related to nuclear safety and organise a national assessment in this regard. Then, Member States shall submit the results of their assessment to other Member States for review. The outcome of these peer reviews shall be available to the public.
  • requires reassessment of the safety of all nuclear plants at least once every ten years.
  • promotes transparency by requiring the operators of nuclear power stations to make available information to the public , both in normal operation and in the event of an accident.

The legislative framework in Cyprus has been harmonised with the provisions of the Directive 2009/71/Euratom establishing a Community framework for nuclear safety of nuclear installations in 2011 and with the provisions of the Directive 2014/87/Euratom in 2017. This legislation was repealed and replaced in 2018 by the Protection against Ionising Radiation and Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security Law of 2018 [Law 164(I)/2018] (available in Greek).



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