30 Nov 2023

Ukraine to Implement Pre-Licensing Regulatory Review for New Nuclear Facilities

NuScale Upper Module Mockup Facility (© NuScale Power)
NuScale Upper Module Mockup Facility (© NuScale Power)

Since the early 2000s, there has been a significant increase in the number of innovative reactor designs worldwide. These designs are based on unique solutions and approaches not  yet seen in operating nuclear power plants nor previously used in the nuclear energy sector.

The rapid development of innovative reactor designs stems from a global desire to transition from older-generation technologies to those that are safer, more environmentally friendly and technically progressive. However, the development of new reactor designs presents challenges not only for scientists, experts and designers but also for regulatory bodies, as one of their key functions is to assess whether these new designs comply with nuclear and radiation safety (NRS) standards and rules and determine their eligibility for licensing.

Countries such as the United States, Great Britain and Canada have introduced a pre-licensing review procedure to reduce uncertainties in the NRS regulatory review for new nuclear facility designs. This procedure, while not mandatory and not part of the licensing process, is conducted by the national nuclear regulatory body upon request from the designer, operating organization or other interested parties. The procedure involves a preliminary review of the new nuclear facility design and safety justifications before submitting a license application for construction and commissioning, aiming to identify potential issues that might significantly complicate or even prevent license issuance.

Ukraine, planning to develop its energy sector as part of the post-war reconstruction program, is preparing to meet these new challenges.

Drawing on the experience of the United States, Great Britain and Canada, experts from the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS) developed their own pre-licensing review procedure. This procedure, inspired by the Canadian experience, consists of three stages.

“The first stage involves general familiarization with the design, its fundamental features and approaches, as well as assessment of their compliance with fundamental nuclear and radiation safety principles and criteria. The second stage entails a detailed analysis of the submittals for compliance with national NRS standards and regulations or, where these are lacking, with requirements and recommendations of international organizations. The third stage involves a thorough review of technical areas identified in earlier stages as potentially challenging, which may necessitate significant modifications to the design, methodologies and safety justification, lead to significant complications in the licensing process, or even preclude issuing a construction license”, explained Oleh Zhabin, Head of SSTC NRS Thermal Hydraulic and Probabilistic Safety Analysis Department.

The “Provisions for Pre-licensing Review of Nuclear Facility’s Design”, developed by SSTC NRS with support of the US Brookhaven National Laboratory, was approved by the SNRIU Board on 19 October 2023. Its implementation fosters early cooperation between the design organizations, nuclear technology suppliers, operating organizations and regulatory body in the design stage for new nuclear facilities being considered for deployment in Ukraine. 


Tetiana Verbytska
Head of Public Relations SSTC NRS