Nuclear Safety: Background
Under the terms of the Agreement on Supply of a Light-Water Reactor Project to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Between the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization and the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the 1995 Supply Agreement), KEDO has worked to provide a light-water reactor project (LWR project) to the DPRK consisting of two pressurized light-water reactor units with two coolant loops and a generating capacity of approximately 1,000 MWe each, on a turnkey basis.
The Agreement stipulates the following:
a. As specified in Article I, paragraph 3, the LWR project shall conform to a set of codes and standards equivalent to those of the IAEA and U.S., and applied to the reactor model referred to in Article I, paragraph 1. The set of codes and standards shall apply to the design, manufacture, construction, testing, commissioning, and operation and maintenance of the LWR plants, including safety, physical protection, environmental protection, and storage and disposal of radioactive waste.
Nuclear Safety Policy
b. As specified in Article X, paragraph 1, KEDO shall be responsible for assuring that design, manufacture, construction, testing, and commissioning of the LWR plants are in compliance with nuclear safety and regulatory codes and standards specified in Article I, paragraph 3. KEDO will implement the above by formulating policies that incorporate fundamental principles and objectives to achieve an internationally recognized standard of nuclear safety.
KEDO's nuclear safety responsibilities are guided by its Nuclear Safety Policy, which states that all LWR project activities shall be conducted in a manner that ensures nuclear safety is accorded the highest priority and will not be compromised for any reason. This policy is carried out through a unique system, the Nuclear Safety Confirmation System (NSCS), in place since February 1998, to confirm the safety and reliability of the reactors while overseeing all nuclear safety aspects of the LWR project.
To support the requirements defined within the Supply Agreement, and to ensure all LWR project participants, as well as the international community, are aware of KEDO's basic approach regarding nuclear safety, KEDO established a nuclear safety policy comprised of five fundamental safety principles described below:
Achieving acceptable levels of nuclear safety shall not be compromised for any reason. All organizations and individuals performing work for the LWR project must also comply with this policy. To ensure these objectives are met, KEDO is ensuring that sufficient personnel and financial resources are devoted to adequately implement all nuclear safety aspects of the LWR project.
- Safety Culture - KEDO is committed to the creation of a safety culture which recognizes the paramount importance of nuclear safety. The establishment and maintenance of a safety culture at KEDO will include the following:
- a prevailing state of mind focusing on safety;
- a disciplined approach to all activities important to safety;
- an appropriate and realistic approach to safety while recognizing the inevitable residual risk;
- an insistence on sound technical bases for actions;
- rigorous self-assessment;
- strict accountability;
- clear assignments of responsibilities;
- strong engineering support; and
- insistence on safety and quality by senior management.
- Safety Principles - KEDO is committed to adopting fundamental safety principles and utilizing internationally-formulated safety guidelines for the LWR project. These principles and guidelines, as outlined in the "Basic Safety Principles for Nuclear Power Plants Ð A Report by the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group" (Safety Series No. 75-INSAG-3), and the "Convention on Nuclear Safety" (Vienna, September 20, 1994), are focused on, but not limited to, quality assurance, radiation protection, siting, design, construction, commissioning, operations and emergency preparedness.
- Safety Assessment and Verification - KEDO takes the appropriate steps to ensure the implementation of a safety assessment and verification process for the LWR project. Comprehensive and systematic safety assessments and verifications will be performed in a timely manner during all phases of the project.
- Safety Regulation - As stated in the "Convention on Nuclear Safety," the prime responsibility for the safety of a nuclear installation rests with the holder of the operating license. Also, the State having jurisdiction over a nuclear installation must establish and maintain a legislative and regulatory framework to govern the safety of nuclear installations. Accordingly, the DPRK must have a regulatory infrastructure with a competent independent regulatory body consistent with international standards. KEDO recognizes that the DPRK must establish a nuclear safety regulatory organization and perform independent nuclear safety regulatory activities as part of the DPRK's responsibility for nuclear safety.
- Nuclear Safety Confirmation System (NSCS) - KEDO established the NSCS to confirm that the LWR project achieves an internationally recognized standard of nuclear safety. The NSCS includes a nuclear safety advisory group (NSAG) and an outside safety review consultant. In addition, the NSCS includes IAEA involvement in the process. These groups or entities function separately and independently from those that are directly responsible for the design, construction and/or project management of the LWR project. The NSAG, which consists of nine senior nuclear experts from member countries, provides oversight of the nuclear safety-related activities of KEDO and advises the Executive Director on matters concerning the nuclear safety of the LWR project.