International co-operation among nuclear regulators is crucial to enhance the safety of new reactor designs and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory design reviews, which are part of each country’s licensing process.
The Multinational Design Evaluation Program (MDEP) provides a unique multinational platform for nuclear regulators across the world to co-operate on safety design reviews of new reactors and to identify opportunities for harmonisation and convergence of safety licensing review practices and requirements. The program includes five design-specific working groups (EPR, AP1000, APR1400, VVER and HPR1000) and one issue-specific working group on vendor inspection co-operation.
The MDEP VVER Working Group (VVERWG) held its biannual meeting on 25-26 May 2021 with the regulatory authorities of China, Finland, India, Russia and Turkey. The group continues to exchange information and experience on national regulatory activities, approaches and legal frameworks related to new VVER designs – all with the goal to leverage resources and ensure that the VVER design reviews remain safety focused.
During the meeting, participating members shared information on the status of VVER design review and construction in their countries and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on these projects. The group also discussed the second VVERWG Workshop to be held in October 2021 and finalised three documents focused on severe accident-related issues:
- A technical report on hydrogen recombiners reliability and effectiveness during plant life;
- A technical report on ex-vessel melt retention in the core catcher;
- A common position on addressing ex-vessel corium stabilisation in the core catcher.
Another key highlight of the May meeting was the discussion on the MDEP Common Position Addressing the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Accident. The group agreed to update the common position to address the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety.