Author : Aniruddh Mohan

Issue BriefsPublished on Sep 13, 2023 PDF Download
ballistic missiles,Defense,Doctrine,North Korea,Nuclear,PLA,SLBM,Submarines

Nuclear Safety and Regulation in India: The Way Forward

While the regulatory and safety structures of India's civilian nuclear programme have served the country well, they are in need of an upgrade. This paper examines the paths that lie ahead.

While the regulatory and safety structures of India's civilian nuclear programme have served the country well, they are in need of an upgrade. This paper examines the paths that lie ahead.

On 27 March 2015, the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) submitted a draft report to India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) reviewing the country’s legal Oand regulatory regime for safety of Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) and safety practices and policies at plants across the country. A peer review service of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the IRRS conducts its reviews against globally accepted IAEA safety standards. The Indian Government had invited the IAEA to conduct the review, which included interviews and discussions with regulatory staff, site visits and inspections over a period of 12 days.

The IRRS draft mission report, the final version of which is expected by the government in three months, found India to be strongly committed to nuclear-energy safety. The team leader, Ramzi Jammal, Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said: “India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is an experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated regulatory body for the protection of the public and the environment. It continues to enhance its regulatory programme to face the current and future challenges in regulating nuclear safety, such as reinforcing the safety of existing nuclear facilities, monitoring ageing and decommissioning, as well as providing oversight of the construction, commissioning and operation of new nuclear power plants”.

At the same time, however, the report noted the lack of institutional independence of India’s civil nuclear regulator, the AERB. The report urged: “The Government should embed the AERB’s regulatory independence in law, separated from other entities having responsibilities or interests that could unduly influence its decision-making”. The draft report also recommended that India’s AERB should “Promulgate a national policy and strategy for safety, and a radioactive waste management strategy as a statement of the Government’s intent”. Other recommendations to the AERB of the IRRS draft report were the following: (i) Consider increasing the frequency of routine on-site inspections at NPPs to allow for additional independent verification and more effective regulatory oversight; and (ii) Develop and implement its own internal emergency arrangements, including detailed procedures to fulfil its emergency response role.

In a statement, the AERB said it had accepted the review team’s suggestions and recommendations “as an opportunity to enhance the regulatory framework” and had already started work on a detailed action plan to address them.

This paper will examine some of the recommendations made by the IRRS and offer an analysis of the context in which India’s nuclear regulatory structure has developed since the inception of its civil nuclear programme. It will also deal with the issue of waste management in India and conclude with some policy recommendations for India’s civil nuclear safety and waste strategy.

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Aniruddh Mohan

Aniruddh Mohan

Aniruddh Mohan is a climate and energy policy researcher currently based at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate Environment &amp: Energy through the Alexander von Humboldt ...

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