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Nuclear Safety Cooperation

Provision of assistance related to developing and strengthening the capabilities of the Energy & Minerals RC and related to radioactive waste management in Jordan

Status
Closed
Jordan
Benefitting Zone
South West Asia
€ 1,821,594.93
EU Contribution
Contracted in 2017
INSC
Programme
Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation

Details

Type of activity

Regulatory Authorities

Nature

Services

Method of Procurement

(FR2012) (Ext. act) Service - International Restricted Procedure with prior publication (Art. '5.1(a)(i) & 2 RAP)

Duration

01/04/2017 - 17/12/2020

Partner

Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC)

Contractor

ENCONET CONSULTING GMBH

Project / Budget year

INSC 2013 Jordan (1 Action fiche) / 2013

Background

Jordan has opted to embark on nuclear energy to produce electrical energy and desalinized water. Jordan has been following a nuclear power development programme since 2007. One pre-condition for Jordan's nuclear programme is the development of the necessary infrastructure, starting from the legislative framework and the enhancement of the capabilities of the nuclear regulatory authority. The EC has been a partner to Jordan in this development from early times on.

This project “Provision of assistance related to developing and strengthening the capabilities of the Energy and Minerals Regulatory Commission and related to radioactive waste management in Jordan“ was the third project for Jordan implemented under the European Union's Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC) to support the country in necessary improvements in its regulatory infrastructure and the safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel, which are necessary for a safe peaceful application of nuclear technology.

Objectives

The project aimed at enhancing the knowledge, skills and competencies of the regulatory body as a whole, to improve the legal and procedural base for a competent and efficient regulatory body and to improve the practices regarding the management of radioactive waste (RW). Within this aim the overall objectives of the project were:

  • to improve regulatory oversight and radiation protection in all areas of the utilization of ionising radiation; and
  • to improve the management of radioactive waste in Jordan.

To achieve these objectives, the project was organized in two components:

  1. Component A -  directed at the regulatory functions in the area of nuclear safety and radiation protection and therefore, covered mainly the EMRC
  2. Component B -  directed towards strengthening the radioactive waste management in Jordan, involving all three partner organizations EMRC, JAEC and MoEnv

The project was implemented through 8 technical tasks, enveloped in two components accordingly.

Component A - Support to the regulatory body

  • Task A1: Assistance in the field of regulatory framework
  • Task A2: Assistance in the field of authorization
  • Task A3: On-Site Support to EMRC and its TSO(s)
  • Task A4: Training and qualification of personnel from EMRC and MoEnv
  • Task A5: Radiation protection of workers

Component B - Strengthening RW management in Jordan

  • Task B1: Framework analysis
  • Task B2: Analysis of RW Generation and Management Infrastructure
  • Task B3: Training on Occupational Radiation Protection and Waste Safety

The objective of Task A1 was to support EMRC in establishing an effective regulatory framework, in particular in the development of the legislative pyramid in accordance with the international conventions, IAEA safety standards and EU directives, regulations and experience. The assistance of the Contractor to EMRC continued the previous INSC projects (but also IAEA activities) to support in enhancing the regulatory framework.

In the field of safety of nuclear power plants the Task A1 has provided important contributions to the existing regulatory arsenal of EMRC by:

  • establishing a high level comprehensive set of ‘General Nuclear Safety Requirements’ – third level in the regulatory pyramid, that may serve as a starting point and general background for development of underlying regulations and instructions in specific areas of nuclear safety,
  • collecting the main features and the international and national best practices in selected topics of safety of NPPs (defence in depth, design extension conditions, safety classification of structures, systems and components),
  • reviewing and commenting the existing exclusion criteria for siting NPPs.

In addition, a specific workshop has been organized and conducted on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) that was meant to support EMRC in preparing for the licensing of a SMR.

In the field of safe management of radioactive waste (RW) and spent nuclear fuel (SNF) the existing regulations (on management of RW and spent fuel) and instructions (on the safety of RW management and on the licensing procedure of RW and spent fuel facilities) have been reviewed and compared to the relevant international and selected national requirements.
As the result of this review the ‘Instructions on Licensing Requirements for Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Facilities’ and the ‘Regulation on the Management and Treatment of Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel’ have been revised in a cooperation of the Contractor and the EMRC experts.

In the field of safety of radioactive sources and radiation protection a completely new regulation has been developed on safety requirements for the working activities involving the presence of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), while the instructions on accreditation of radiation inspectors have been reviewed.
In conclusion, Task A1 has effectively contributed to the development of the EMRC regulatory framework in the field of nuclear and radiation safety. When summarizing on the implementation of Task A1 activities and their results, the following major recommendations have been drawn:

  1. A systematic overview of the system of regulations and instructions is suggested in order to verify/examine its completeness and establish the list of regulations and instructions to be developed.
  2. Official issuance and application of the General Nuclear Safety Requirements is recommended as a basis for developing/revising underlying regulations and instructions.
  3. Periodic revision and review of the regulations and instructions is recommended.
  4. Continued activity of EMRC on the international arena is strongly supported for enhancing the capabilities of EMRC and for enabling EMRC to align to up to date international standards in all areas of its activity, including further development of its regulatory framework.

Task A2 was originally intended for giving EMRC and its Technical Support Organization(s) TSO(s) practical support in the licensing of a NPP, uranium mining activities and radioactive waste storage facilities. However, the license applications envisaged at planning the project did not materialize during its implementation period. Therefore, the project had to be adapted and a new content of Task A2 was defined aiming at the maximum support possible for EMRC in the field of licensing, based on actual applications. The Contractor reacted flexibly to the new requests by EMRC and implemented two workshop, enhancing the originally planned scope of the project:

  • workshop on the assessment of shielding calculations,
  • workshop on the licensing of the SESAME synchrotron.

With these workshops, the Contractor provided practical support to EMRC in the respective licensing tasks. A TSO was not yet appointed by EMRC, so such an organization could not be included in the project.
When analyzing the course of the activities in Task A2 and their results, the following conclusions and recommendations have been drawn:

  • EMRC has limited experience in assessing the applications of facilities using radioactivity that deviate from the standard medical or industrial applications of radiation in Jordan.
  • The exchange with senior experts from EU countries is useful for enhancing the capabilities of EMRC and for enabling EMRC to enforce the up to date international standards.
  • It would be useful to support EMRC on reviewing actual licensing applications, when submitted by the operators, e.g. by tutoring of EMRC staff. In possible future support on actual licenses, an active involvement of EMRC in the review process and documenting of the results should be ensured.

Considering the planned development of nuclear power in Jordan, further support to EMRC in the licensing of nuclear facilities is recommended.
 
The objective of Task A3 was to support the regulatory oversight implemented by EMRC, and to enhance regulatory effectiveness in specific areas with a focus on the following:

  • Regulatory management practices;
  • Development of regulatory competencies;
  • Establishment of regulations;
  • Review of safety assessments;
  • Conduct of licensing, inspection and enforcement.

In order to achieve the objective of the task, the Contractor provided on-site support to the EMRC in particular on the following:

Management system review and development:
As a result of the support delivered in this activity with the OSSV 1 and 2, EMRC now possesses of a full-scale Integrated Management System with an IMS Manual, description of the processes and procedures for the major processes. The system is ready for a trial use, a one-year test period is foreseen.

Preparation of the IRRS follow-up mission
In OSSV 3, the Contractor provided support to the EMRC in the preparation of the IRRS follow-up mission in 2017. With this support, Jordan could successfully host a highly satisfactory IRRS follow-up mission that closed all findings of the initial mission.

Preparation of the Jordan’s first national report for the Joint Convention
In OSSV 4, the Jordanian partners (EMRC, JAEC and MoEnv) prepared with the assistance of the Contractor the first national report for the Joint Convention on the safety of spent fuel and on the safety of radioactive waste. With this support, the national report could be submitted in time to the Secretariate at IAEA, forming the basis for a successful participation in the 6th Review Meeting of the JC.

Inspections at industrial and medical radiation applications
OSSV 5 to 8 covered inspections at the Jordan Research and Training Reactor site (JRTR) and at other industrial and medical radiation applications. These OSSVs provided valuable input to the inspectors and promoted an intense experience exchange. The OSSVs also contributed to improvement of the documents providing instructions and guidance on inspection process.
When analyzing the outcomes of Task A3, the general conclusion has been drawn by the project partners that future support to the EMRC for the further development and application of the IMS would be useful. Specific recommendations aimed to support further development of the IMS are presented in the Task 3 technical report. Also, further on-site support visits are recommended and would be useful to enable experience exchange of EMRC inspectors with senior EU experts and by this strengthen the EMRC inspectors in their role. This could be accompanied by scholarship programs for EMRC inspectors in European countries.

The objective of Task A4 was to support EMRC in receiving further training and participating in national, regional and international conferences/workshops related to nuclear safety and radiation protection, to strengthen their network and increase technical and regulatory competence.
The Task A4 was divided into three sub-tasks. Sub-task A4.1 dealt with analysis of the existing training plan, documentation, needs and possibilities; the aim of sub-task A4.2 was to update and maintain the existing training plan; while within sub-task A4.3 training was provided and also external training facilitated to fill some of the training gaps identified as priorities.

A comprehensive analysis of competence gaps was performed utilizing Systematic Assessment of Regulatory Competence Needs (SARCoN) methodology and proposals for training programs and a model training plan were developed.

Training was provided by the Contractor’s experts to the EMRC staff on the topics of EMRC’s choice, and according to their priorities as follows:

  • Licensing stages of NPPs;
  • Environmental radioactivity monitoring;
  • Regulatory activities in the frame of authorization, inspection and enforcement regarding advanced radiation practices.

In consultation with the Contractor the following three external training courses organized by the European Nuclear Safety Training and Tutoring Institute have been selected, applied for and attended by the EMRC representatives:

  1. Application of IAEA Regulations in Qualification and Approval of Packages for the Transport of Radioactive Materials;
  2. Regulatory control of nuclear sites - surveillance of environmental radioactivity;
  3. Nuclear Materials Protection, Nuclear Safeguards and Interface with Nuclear Safety.

When analysing the implementation of the Task A4 activities and their results, the following conclusions and recommendations have been made:

  • EMRC has limited experience in assessing the license applications of nuclear power plants. Further support to EMRC in this area, including training, is recommended, at a time when the license applications are received;
  • The exchange with senior experts from EU countries is useful for enhancing the capabilities of EMRC and for enabling EMRC to align to up to date international standards in all areas of activity, including the human resource development;
  • Performance of training needs assessment and further development/update of the training plan should be ensured by EMRC. These need to be periodically assessed by third parties and further support in training of EMRC staff is recommended.

The objective of Task A5 was to assist EMRC in the radiation protection of workers in all applications with emphasis on the guidance for radiation protection in industrial applications. The activities started with an assessment (mapping of needs) conducted by the Contractor in alignment with EMRC. The identified needs have been addressed

  • by an assessment of the existing legislation and requirements on occupational radiation protection and their implementation;
  • by training of EMRC staff in topical areas of radiation protection; and
  • by support to EMRC inspectors in regulatory inspection and enforcement of radiation protection for radiological workers in industrial applications. Additionally to these, support included the assessment of the legislation regarding qualification of EMRC radiation inspectors and the review of a complex shielding calculation, which constitute a part of the inspectors’ duties.

Recommendations have been made to the regulatory body on updating various instructions and procedures on radiation protection, and documented in the “Report on the Review of EMRC Regulations and Instructions on Radiation Protection of Workers” provided to EMRC.
The Contractor’s support also included advice on the regulatory use of the registry of occupational exposure, as well as support to training of EMRC staff in methods to enforce requirements and ensure compliance with them through inspection, including training to transfer EU experts experience and facilitate obtaining practical skills by EMRC inspectors.

In addition, specifications for suitable measurement equipment for inspections including cost estimations have been developed by the Contractor and provided to EMRC.
When analyzing the course of the activities in Task A5 and their results, the following conclusions and recommendations have been drawn:

  • The Jordan legislation regarding radiation protection generally follows international guidelines. Some recommendations regarding improvements were given by the Contractor to EMRC. In general, the practical application and enforcement of regulations is an area where further improvements of EMRC capabilities would be advisable.
  • The exchange with senior experts from EU countries is useful for enhancing the capabilities of EMRC and for enabling EMRC to enforce standards.
  • The support provided to EMRC within the project Task A5 was focused on issues such as legislation and basic knowledge and capabilities regarding radiation protection. For further support, it would be useful to enhance practical capabilities of EMRC, e.g. in performing own measurements and by assisting EMRC experts in actual assessments such as shielding calculations.

The overall objective of Task B1 was to provide advice and support on implementation of Jordan national SNF and RW management policy. Within this overall objective the specific objectives were:

  • advice on implementation of national RW management strategy and support to JAEC in developing the action plan for its implementation,
  • transfer of EU experience and assistance to EMRC and MoEnv in developing capabilities to review and approve applications related to RW management facilities, and
  • facilitate coordination between EMRC, MOENV and JAEC in discharging their responsibilities in the area of RW management.

The review and analysis of the current SNF and RW management policy and strategy for all SNF and RW generating activities, as well as of the applicable national regulations and instructions on SNF and RW management have been performed by the contractor.

The experts of EMRC, JAEC and MoEnv benefited from the focused technical visit to an EU regulatory authority and waste management organisation, the on-site support and knowledge transfer ensured by the Contractor within the course of topical work meetings, workshops and training courses and technical visit to the JRTR site, as well as methodological support and experience sharing on various aspects of RW management. In this way the project contributed to the improvement of SNF and RW management in Jordan. In particular the following was achieved:

  • the revised national SNF and RW management strategy is prepared, the action plan for its implementation developed, and recommendations drawn on their introduction in to practice;
  • knowledge and experience of EU experts in establishing regulatory and institutional frameworks and technical infrastructure, as well as in licensing of RW management facilities is transferred to EMRC, JAEC and MoEnv;
  • knowledge and practical skills gained by the EMRC and the JAEC experts and in-house capabilities built in the following areas:
    • regulatory review of safety documentation,
    • application of clearance concept,
    • application of MicroShield for shielding calculation.

When analyzing the course of the activities in Task B1 and their results, the following conclusions and recommendations have been drawn:

  • Coordination between EMRC, JAEC and MoEnv was improved, and the level of preparedness of EMRC and JAEC to discharge their duties in the field of radioactive waste management is increased.
  • In support to future realization of the national SNF and RW management strategy a dialog (close cooperation) between EMRC and JAEC for adoption and smooth introduction into practice of the revised strategy and the action plan is recommended.
  • It could be further recommended to consider actions by JAEC to ensure proper monitoring and control over the strategy implementation.
  • Continuation of support in the following areas could be beneficial for both EMRC and JAEC:
    • safety assessment of RW management facilities, including on-site support by senior experts and external trainings on the application of specialised software codes; and
    • review/revising program level and site-specific safety related documents to contribute to the improvement of the RW management in the CSF and at the JRTR sites and the RW management system in the whole country.

The overall objective of Task B2 was to analyse all RW generating and management activities and provide recommendations aimed to their improvement. Within this overall objective the specific objectives were:

  • conduct a feasibility study for the management of RW stored at hazardous waste management site Sewaqa,
  • assist in improvement of RW management practice at waste generation, processing and storage sites and facilities,
  • provide methodological support and assistance in updating safety documentation to meet regulatory requirements.

The analysis and feasibility study comprehensively covered all aspects of management of RW present at Sewaqa site. The technically and economically most advantageous (ALARA considered) option for the future management of RW from the Sewaqa site was recommended for the implementation by JAEC. It envisages the retrieval of RW stored at Sewaqa site and its transfer to the CSF. This requires close cooperation with and involvement of the Ministry of Environment and the Energy and Minerals Regulatory Commission of Jordan. The feasibility study report was provided to the JAEC and is a major outcome of this project.

A number of recommendations aimed to improve RW management were developed that related not only to RW present at Sewaqa site, but rather aimed to establishing a sustainable RW management system in the country. Some of these recommendations have already been implemented within different tasks of this project, while others are considered by EMRC and JAEC for implementation in the future.

Methodological support and technical assistance in updating the safety analysis report (SAR) for the Radioactive waste Treatment Facility (RTF) were provided by the Contractor to JRTR site staff. As a result, several documents were developed by JRTR site staff, which will be incorporated into/used for RTF SAR updating.
When analyzing the course of the activities in Task B2 and their results, recommendations related to future support and cooperation for the improvement of the RW management system and practice have been drawn:

  • further support to JAEC in safety assessment/re-assessment of RW management facilities, including on-site support by experienced senior experts and external trainings on application of specialized software codes to support safety assessment would be beneficial;
  • further support to JAEC in review/revising program level and site specific safety related documents could be recommended.

The Task B3 was aimed at the development of the capabilities of the EMRC and JAEC to achieve a high level of safety culture in the field of RW management, ensuring at the same time the sustainability of such capabilities.

A comprehensive review and analysis of the Jordan legal provisions related to radiation protection and, in particular, requirements on Radiation Protection Officers (RPO) and Radiation Protection Experts (RPE) were conducted by the Contractor and support provided to EMRC and JAEC on the qualification and authorization of RPO and RPE utilizing provisions of international regulations and best EU practice as a references. Also, recommendations for the improvement of the respective Jordanian legislation were proposed.

A training plan for staff at RW management facilities in Jordan, as well as the training course materials were developed. The training program was tested in a training course at the JRTR/RTF with participants from EMRC and JAEC.

In response to the needs and expectations of JAEC the Contractor provided JAEC with valuable support in the further development of the CSF safety case. Numerous comments on the CSF safety case and underlying safety assessment were provided together with documents explaining the procedures for safety assessments. Drawing on the experience from this activity, it is recommended for future cooperation to provide support to JAEC and EMRC in the application of safety assessment codes. This should encompass the theoretical background and the methodology, as well as the use of the computer codes as such.
 
In 2020, the implementation of the project was impaired by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions. However, the project partners reacted flexibly and adapted the working mode to the new situation. By this, the project goals could be achieved even under the difficult circumstances in 2020.

The project final meeting (video-conference) to disseminate the project results was organised and held on 15 December 2020, concluding the project activities. The representatives of the EC/DEVCO, EC/JRC, EMRC, JAEC, MoEnv, the Jordan Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Jordan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates and the Contractor took part in the meeting contributing to wider dissemination of the project results amongst interested parties. The participation of the Chairman of JAEC Dr. Khaled Toukan and high level representation of EMRC, the Jordan Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Jordan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in the meeting is a demonstration of strong commitment to and importance of improvements in the country’s regulatory infrastructure and the safe management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. The need and importance of a continuation of the cooperation in the nuclear safety field were discussed. The EC representative emphasized that the EC is open for possible formal requests for a continuation of the cooperation and  encouraged the Jordanian partners to deliver suggestions for future projects.

All the activities implemented and results achieved within the project tasks were documented in task technical reports prepared by the Contractor. Close cooperation with the Beneficiary and End-User organizations in Jordan at all project phases ensured that the outcomes of the project tasks are consistent with the project objectives and meet the beneficiary country’s needs. This was also promoted by early ownership of the project results by EMRC and JAEC.