Russian Nuclear Security Update #1
Weekly collection of news about nuclear security in Russia, Russia’s impact on nuclear security globally, and lessons for nuclear security elsewhere
This is the first issue of my weekly update on current developments related to nuclear security in Russia, Russia’s impact on nuclear security globally, and lessons for nuclear security elsewhere. These weekly posts will come under the title “Russian Nuclear Security Update“ as a tribute to my 2017-2021 newsletter.
Most of the sources for this update will be in Russian. I will provide a brief English summary for each link or set of links, but for the sake of time, I will not provide a translation or a detailed summary unless there is something I consider extremely interesting and important. For complete translation please use Google Translate or its alternatives. However, if you have specific substantive questions or think that machine translation does not make sense, feel free to reach out.
There is always a chance I miss something interesting. Let me know, if you want me to comment on anything interesting you hear from other sources.
Enjoy reading and have a good week!
ROSTECHNADZOR REPORTS ON NUCLEAR SECURITY INSPECTIONS IN 1-3 QUARTERS OF 2023
January 26, 2024
In late December 2023 Rostechnadzor, a Russian nuclear regulatory body, issued an order approving an annual program for prevention of violations of requirements in the area of nuclear energy use. This program contains a brief analysis of inspections conducted by Rostechnadzor in January-September 2023 (a complete detailed analysis for the past year is typically published at the end of the first quarter). Noticeable findings related to nuclear security include the following:
- Inspections over the control and accounting of nuclear materials revealed one anomaly in control and accounting due to a discrepancy in the actual physical inventory and book inventory of nuclear materials. The organization, where the anomaly was identified, conducted an investigation and provided a special report, as required by regulations. The Rostechnadzor report does not identify the organization or reveal investigation results.
- Rostechnadzor draws attention to the long and complicated procurement procedure for the upgrade of physical protection systems at organizations under oversight, as well as insufficient funding for physical protection of radiation hazard sites [this typically refers to organizations using radioactive substance and sources, not nuclear materials], including bankruptcy of organizations operating radiation hazard sites.
AKKUYU NPP AWARDS $550MLN+ CONTRACT FOR DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL PROTECTION SYSTEM
November 10, 2023
Akkuyu Nuclear, Russia owned company established to build and operate Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) now under construction in Turkey, in November 2023 awarded a contract for the development of a physical protection system (PPS) for the NPP for a total amount exceeding 550 million USD. The contract was awarded to JSC NEPT, a major contractor to Russian government organizations and government-owned businesses, through a sole-source procurement procedure. Works covered by the contract and respective payments will be performed through the end of 2027. Procurement documentation contains details regarding the work, including contract price calculation. According to this documentation around half of the contract amount will be spent on the hydroacoustic monitoring system of the water area. The contract amount is comparable to the annual funding spent on nuclear security assistance to Russia within the framework of the U.S.-Russian nuclear security cooperation before it was terminated in 2014. This is not the only contract covering the development of PPS for Akkuyu NPP.
ROSTECHNADZOR REVISES REGULATIONS FOR THE PHYSICAL PROTECTION OF RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES AND SOURCES
In 2023 Rostechnadzor, a Russian nuclear regulatory body, revised two Federal Norms and Rules defining requirements for the physical protection of radioactive substances and radioactive sources at stationary sites and during transportation. Federal Norms and Rules are a type of regulation introduced by the Law on Atomic Energy Use to define mandatory requirements for nuclear safety and security. New revisions replace older versions issued in 2011 and 2015.
ROSATOM REPORTS ON PHYSICAL PROTECTION OF SUBORDINATE SITES IN 2022
September 25, 2023
In September 2023 Rosatom issued its Annual Report for 2022 [Rosatom typically issues its Annual Reports with substantial delays] that includes some coverage of Rosatom physical protection activities. In particular, the Report notes that:
- Rosatom conducted thirteen PP agency inspections (eleven scheduled and two unscheduled) in 2022. Agency inspections are a peer-review tool aimed at identifying areas for improvement and sharing best practices between sites. During agency inspection, a nuclear site is inspected by a team of experts from Rosatom Headquarters, other nuclear sites, and specialized physical protection organizations. The agency inspection mechanism is additional to oversight inspections conducted by Rostechnadzor. It was first introduced within the framework of the U.S.-Russian nuclear security cooperation. The U.S. provided funding and expert support for agency inspections before 2014.
- New equipment that has been in operation for less than 10 years accounts for 73% of all physical protection equipment at nuclear sites.
SECURITY SERVICE IS NOT CONSIDERED “A PRIORITY LEVEL UNIT” AT ROSATOM NUCLEAR SITES
May 25, 2023
In its comments for draft revision of Federal Norms and Rules “Requirements for Physical Protection Systems for Nuclear Materials, Nuclear Facilities, and Nuclear Material Storage Points” (NP-083-23) published in Spring 2023 Mining and Chemical Combine (aka MCC, K-26), one of Russia’s major nuclear fuel cycle sites, notes that currently site security service in charge of physical protection is not considered a priority level unit. This results in lower-wage positions and can lead to a shortage of qualified personnel. MCC proposed to reclassify the security service to a priority level unit with higher official salaries and individual incentive bonuses to attract competent high-level specialists to the security service positions. This likely deals with Rosatom agency procedures to establish salaries for nuclear site personnel based on the system of grades. Rostechnadzor declined to reflect this proposal in the draft because this issue is beyond the scope of this regulation’s applicability. The procedure for the development of Federal Norms and Rules implies the publication of a draft for public review, as well as the publication and reconciliation of obtained comments.