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Completed review of the nuclear and radiation safety regulatory framework in Slovenia

The mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed the independent peer review of regulatory framework of nuclear and radiation safety in the Republic of Slovenia as well as the activities at the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration (SNSA) and the Slovenian Radiation Protection Administration (SRPA). On Thursday, 14 April 2022, the exit meeting took place, presenting the main findings of the draft report. In a couple of months, IAEA will deliver a proofread and consolidated final report.

This mission falls within IAEA services known as IRRS (Integrated Regulatory Review Service) which indicates that it overviews the legislative and administrative infrastructure according to the IAEA standards. Not only did the IRRS reviewers verify the compliance of our regulations with the IAEA standards, but they also assessed organisation structure and management systems of both regulatory bodies, SNSA and SRPA. Following the invitation of the Slovenian Government, the mission comprehensively reviewed the entire domain of nuclear and radiation safety in Slovenia, including the peaceful use of nuclear energy, as well as the use of radiation sources in all sectors (medicine, science, industry). Thus the mission was declared a full scope mission.

The mission concluded that Slovenia permanently strengthens and improves nuclear and radiation safety. The reviewers pointed out that the Government should consider allocating sufficient financial as well as human resources to both administrative bodies for their effective long-term functioning. It was highlighted that the government must continue to ensure full independence to both regulatory bodies in carrying out their statutory tasks. Moreover, the reviewers proposed amendments to certain regulations and guidelines of regulatory bodies as well as their internal procedures, also in the light of a possible decision to build a new nuclear power plant in Slovenia or include new radiation therapy devices in medicine. In addition, they proposed that the authorities with competencies in different areas of nuclear and radiation safety try to improve their coordination.          

The team leader of the mission, Mr. Cantemir Ciurea, stressed that both SNSA and SRPA have demonstrated the knowledge and experience to successfully fulfil their mandates and ensure nuclear and radiation safety in all circumstances. He also highlighted the commitment of both bodies to continuous improvement.

The mission members held a series of interviews and reviewed the extensive documentation, as well as the self-assessment results prepared by both regulatory bodies before the mission. Additionally, they reviewed the Slovenian legislation regarding this domain as well as internal procedures of both competent authorities. They confirmed the findings of self-assessment and scrutinised the action plan of both bodies.

Furthermore, the mission leaders met with the Minister for the Environment and Spatial Planning as well as with the Minister of Health, who confirmed the commitment of the Government and both Ministers for maintaining the independence of both regulatory bodies and agreed on strengthening the their human resources. The reviewers also observed the inspections at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, the “Jožef Stefan” Institute, the Institute of Oncology Ljubljana, and the Central Radwaste Storage Facility in Brinje.

The reviewers noted good practices, in particular, they praised the preparation and organisation of the SNSA's international cyber security exercise in nuclear facilities, as it sets an example to all other IAEA member states. They complimented the SNSA written instructions for carrying out effective and successful remote inspections during the pandemic. The SNSA web portal Radioactivity in the Environment for real-time monitoring of radioactivity at measuring sites located throughout the entire territory of Slovenia has also been noted as a good performance. Another good performance was the national protection strategy in case of a nuclear and radiological accident, which was prepared in accordance with the IAEA guidelines. Along the same lines the publication of comparative analysis (correlation tables) of Slovenian legislation in this area with EU directives and international IAEA standards on SNSA websites was also praised. The mission members also noted both regulatory bodies’ stimulative working environment including constructive, open, and efficient functioning of all their employees. The IAEA published a Press Release after conclusion of the mission.

In line with the mission recommendations, both regulatory authorities will draw up and implement an appropriate action plan. In three to four years, the Republic of Slovenia will invite a so-called follow-up mission to verify the progress made.