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Nuclear Safety Cooperation

JO3.01/10 Provision of assistance related to developing and strengthening the capabilities of the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC)

Benefitting Zone
South West Asia
€ 1,194,635.64
EU Contribution
Contracted in 2012
Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation


Type of activity

Regulatory Authorities



Contracting authority

European Commission

Method of Procurement

(FR2007) Negotiated Procedure - External Actions


05/07/2012 - 04/07/2014


Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC)



Project / Budget year

INSC 2010 part II - Jordan / 2010


The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) was established in 2001 to carry out the duties related to radiation protection and nuclear energy. To comply with the new responsibilities and challenges, in 2007 this body was split in two independent entities, one still named JAEC and the other became the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) as an independent regulatory body to separate promotional and regulatory functions of the state.

This one was the second project to support JNRC, following the achievements from project JO3.01/08 carried out in 2010/2012 (development of basic legislation, staff training, strategy and action plans, first steps in nuclear licensing and regulation of radioactive sources and radiotherapy).



The general objective of the project was to develop the capabilities of JNRC and its potential technical support organisation on radiation protection and to prepare the JNRC for tasks in the regulatory activity on nuclear safety and radiation protection in Jordan.

The project JO3.01/10 responded to a changing situation in Jordan, namely the request to build a 5 MW research reactor and the plans to select a site for a power reactor. It covered the support in the following areas:

  • Further improvement of some regulation and instructions,
  • Licensing of the projected research reactor,
  • On-site assistance in a wide range of topics,
  • Training an tutoring specific for Jordan,
  • Further improvement in specific areas of internal legislation and quality improvement of radiation therapy,
  • Environmental monitoring.

The kick-off meeting was held in Amman in September 2012. Changes in the management of the Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR) and a rapidly developing situation in Jordan required the project to adapt some of the activities.

Task 1 - Update of the Strategy Plan

The core of the task was to update basic JNRC planning documents, i.e. the Strategy and Action Plans and the Multiannual Cooperation Plan. Regarding the Strategy Plan, the five priorities already identified in the previous project (legal framework, licensing and inspection procedures, JNRC internal processes, JNRC competences development and national emergency preparedness) were reconfirmed, and the Action Plan and Cooperation Plan developed the specific actions needed to cover these five priorities. The updates concerned mostly the new developments of the nuclear program in Jordan.

Task 2 - Assistance in the field of regulatory framework

The Jordanian legislation pyramid consists of the Atomic Act and 22 regulations, two of which were already in force before the start of the project. The project team reviewed 4 regulations and 2 instructions, proposing JNRC to introduce a number of modifications, as follows:

  • Safety of nuclear power plants regulation. The following improvements were proposed:
    • Specification of radiation safety limits and probabilistic limits;
    • introduction of the new IAEA / WENRA event classification and design extension conditions;
    • a better formulation of design basis failure criteria (single failure criterion, N+2 principle);
    • addition of requirements for leakage control in the reactor cooling system;
    • more clear requirements for overpressure protection and consideration of the "feed and bleed" or "steam dumping" functions;
    • more precise redundancy requirements concerning the heat removal safety function;
    • more detailed requirements for the Reactor Protection system, including software requirements;
    • additional requirements covering double containment and instrument lines containment penetrations;
    • more detailed severe accident requirements, covering for instance systems like hydrogen recombiners, containment filtered venting or the core catcher;
    • additional requirements for emergency power systems and support systems in general, also including offsite power lines;
    • additional requirements for spent fuel pools (for instance the requirement to be able to provide pool makeup water in case of prolonged power unavailability could be considered based on Fukushima lessons learned).
  • Emergency preparedness and planning regulation. The following topics were covered by the project assistance:
    • definitions for precautionary action zone, first responder and urgent protection action zone;
    • long term protective actions;
    • role of new IAEA draft requirements (DS 457);
    • national arrangements and JNRC’s role in emergency preparedness.
  • Safety of spent fuel management regulation. The project team advised to restructure the contents of this regulation, to incorporate some of the requirements in separate regulatory documents on e.g. radiation protection, nuclear safety, decommissioning etc. valid for all nuclear installations, not only for spent fuel management facilities. Furthermore, the draft regulation contained some requirements with a character of recommendations and hence more suitable for an instruction rather than a regulation. It advised also to remove some very detailed technical requirements that are not usually included in legislation. Advice was given to better define the terms used, and align them with the international practice (for instance terms like "anticipated operational occurrence", "nuclear facility", "nuclear fuel", "cask", "dry storage", "leaking assembly", "on-site shipping cask", "operator", "safety assessment", "sealed canister", etc.). An additional suggestion was to clarify the scope of the regulation, i.e. the type of installations for which it is applicable.
  • Radwaste regulation. The existing draft was broadly consistent with IAEA's requirements, however a number of deficiencies and guidance on how to remove them were discussed within the project: some definitions are not consistent or valid only for reactor safety, not for waste management; better distinction between the waste owner and the waste operator; missing requirements for using a graded approach for safety measures; missing requirements for construction of a waste management facility; missing requirements for safety documentation and its update; missing requirements for periodic safety reviews, in particular covering the need for safety improvements.
  • Instruction on site survey and site selection for NPPs and Instruction on site evaluation for NPPs. It was proposed to merge both instructions and to improve the writing style, avoiding vague terms or non-mandatory "soft" provisions. The existing drafts followed at least partially the IAEA guidance and thus reflect current good practice and international experience. However, the text was not sufficiently specific regarding the screening and exclusion criteria (in many cases the exact values for the criteria were missing), and in some cases the subjects bearing the responsibility were not clearly specified. Moreover, some usual requirements in this domain were missing, e.g. the qualification of the experts performing the site survey, procedural provisions (methodology of the information collecting and site survey in general), planning of the site survey (content of the plan), documentation of the site survey and the site selection process and, especially, quality management.                                                                                

Task 3 - Assistance in the field of authorization (licenses and permits)

The objective was to support the safety assessment of the Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR). More specifically, the project team reviewed the following chapters of the JRTR Preliminary Safety Analysis Report (in the version available at the start of the project):

  • Reactor Description (Chapter 5), used to understand the other chapters
  • Geology, Seismology, and Geotechnical Engineering (Chapter 3.5)
  • Safety Analysis (Chapter 16)
  • Operational Limits and Conditions (Chapter 17)

The review identified a number of concerns, that can be grouped in two classes:

  1. Issues that may require changes in the project (e.g. seismicity of the site and ability of the construction to withstand an earthquake) and should be discussed prior to any licensing decision in order to avoid delays, modifications, and additional costs. They can be summarized as follows:
    • Insufficient support for absence of active surface fault,
    • Evaluation of peak ground acceleration taking into account uncertainties,
    • Insufficient design of confinement.
  2. Issues that could be clarified up to the evaluation of the Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR) but for which prompt solving is highly recommended in order to prevent additional delays:
    • Missing analyses of some Plant Initiating Events or deficiencies in existing accident analyses (e.g. rod drop time) or descriptions.
    • Insufficient classification of some components.

At the 2nd progress meeting, JNRC suggested to finish this area of support and propose to redirect the remaining resources of this task to give support on environmental monitoring and methods to assess average doses for population from different sources (ground, cosmic rays, medical treatment etc.). Subsequently two meetings were organised on these topics, and the project team provided information on EU practice in these areas.

Task 4 - On-Site Support to JNRC and the independent Technical Support Organisation of JNRC

This task provided managerial support to JNRC in the definition of roles, organization, communication and methods of work. It covered a wide range of topics, as described below.

General support to the JNRC Director General. Relevant EU experts discussed with the JNRC Director General about the JNRC strategy, public communication, human resources development or the construction of a nuclear power plant in Jordan, among other topics.

Public communication. The role of the regulator and other counterparts was discussed, and the project team reviewed a draft public information plan prepared by JNRC, a comprehensive document integrating issues that JNRC could not fully address at the moment due to a lack of resources and budget. Recommendations concerning the JNRC website were also presented and discussed.

International cooperation. The project team contributed to the Jordanian national report to the Convention on Nuclear Safety and its presentation at the review meeting. The EU experts made recommendations on the development of international cooperation.

Radiation protection. The EU experts made recommendations based on French practice regarding JNRC organization, authorizations for radioactive sources, national register of ionizing radiation sources, follow-up of occupational exposures, declaration and collection of radiation protection events, exposure to natural radioactive sources etc.

Emergency preparedness. The project reviewed the Action Plan that JNRC was preparing to respond to the IAEA's EPREV (Emergency PReparedness REview) and suggested adding details on the units and persons responsible for the actions and confirming the deadlines proposed.

Research reactor licensing. JNRC senior staff and potential future “licensing managers” discussed the key aspects of the licensing function during the mission of the EU expert to Jordan. The technical and management aspects of the licensing process for a nuclear facility were described in detail, discussed and compared with the current situation and the development process of competencies and management capacity in JNRC. Recommendations were given on how to face the different licensing issues, the priorities, the minimum quality and capacity, the interface with the licensee and the attitudes and skills for an effective project manager.

General management of the new NPP siting on regulatory issues. The following topics were discussed: duties of the regulator on site evaluation and the procedures and the efforts that should be anticipated; objectives, scope, main tasks and planning of the review activities, main actors, distribution of responsibilities, required competencies and resources; country-specific issues. A case study was then used for learning how to organize the work.

Task 5 - Training and qualification of JNRC staff

This task comprised two on-the-job trainings in Finland and Italy, two specialised courses in Amman and one standard course at CEA (France).

The first on-the-job training took place in Helsinki during one week, and was followed by two staff from JNRC. It included practical advice and hands-on examples on inspection methods and quality assurance in cardiology and interventional radiology. The training included a combination of presentations, discussions and laboratory visits at the Finnish regulatory body (STUK) as well as on-site inspections at Turku University Hospital followed by a detailed analysis of the findings.
The other on-the-job training was followed also by two JNRC staff at the Laboratory of Applied Nuclear Energy (LENA) of the University of Pavia. This facility operates the 250 kW TRIGA Mark II Research Nuclear Reactor. The activities covered the safe operation of the research reactor and related licensing requirements and exercises and practical applications to get familiar with the facility and its operation.

Two additional tailored courses were held in Amman. One of them was a basic training for inspectors to increase their technical and regulatory competencies. The instructors reviewed national regulatory inspection practices from France and Finland including research reactors and nuclear power plants and their construction and operation as well as radiation protection practices and radiation protection inspection in the subcritical facility. The other training in Amman was a specialised course on safety design requirements and safety classification for Structures, Systems and Components (SSC) in research reactors.

Finally, two JNRC staff took part in an international course on the operation of nuclear reactors at CEA-Saclay in France, in the frame of the European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN). Lectures were complemented by practical courses, including 2 ½ day courses carried out on the ISIS research reactor (a 700 kW open pool type reactor).

Task 6 - Radiation protection of occupational exposure

Through a number of workshops and technical meetings, the project team and JNRC staff discussed the overall situation of quality assurance and quality control in interventional radiology and cardiology in Jordan, the protection of exposed workers in medical applications and the personal dosimetry inspection system. The analysis revealed some deficiencies, such as missing regulatory instruments, missing JNRC internal guides and a lack of effective approach complying with international standards and in line with EU practice.

Based on these findings, the project team delivered the relevant training (providing examples from regulatory practice in the EU) and drafted guidance for practices with radiation sources in medical applications as well as for regulatory inspection procedures.
The project team recommended to implement some changes in the relevant legal texts and to adopt the drafted guidance on quality assurance in interventional radiology and cardiology and the principles of personal dosimetry during activities resulting in exposure.

Task 7 - Assessment of situation and support in drafting Technical Specifications for equipment

After a visit to the laboratories at the JNRC headquarters in Amman and monitoring stations in Jordan, the task leader and JNRC compared the environmental radiation monitoring in Jordan and Finland. The project team made the following main recommendations to improve the radiation monitoring program in Jordan:

  •  Split the monitoring program in two distinct parts: measurements taken by JNRC and measurements taken by operators around nuclear facilities including baseline measurements approved by JNRC.
  •  The national monitoring program should cover the entire country with ambient dose rate stations reporting dose rates online with at least an hourly frequency (e.g. every ten minutes), and equipped with automatic alarms.
  •  Sensors of airborne radioactivity should be able to detect traces of artificial radionuclides in air, taking into account the possible influence of sand storms.
  • The system should include periodic sampling of common foodstuff (possibly yearly during normal situations), with monitoring of gamma radionuclides.

In order to support the implementation of this program, the project team prepared technical specifications for the equipment required