16 Sep 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Challenges Identified by Rostechnadzor and Actions Taken to Address Them

Similar to the situation with other human activities, the coronavirus pandemic has put to test the regulator ability to adapt and retain effective performance under extreme conditions. The emergency procedures are normally developed to respond to human-induced disasters, and to the nuclear facility accidents initiated by natural or human-made events. In the face of the coronavirus, these procedures require a scrupulous adjustment to accommodate the new challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Regulator is challenged primarily to:

  • protect the life and health of its own staff (both in headquarters and regional offices), and the staff of the operating organisations ensuring safe operation of the nuclear facilities under the coronavirus pandemic;
  • arrange effective remote work, including conduct of remote inspections to ensure continued oversight of the nuclear and radiological safety at supervised facilities.

Rostechnadzor developed and has been implementing the following measures to meet these challenges:

  • the number of the Rostechnadzor on-the-job staff has been reduced to as low as practical. All these people have been provided with personal protection items, their social distancing has been secured, and they have been regularly tested for coronavirus;
  • remote work has been arranged for the rest of the Rostechnadzor staff through state-of-the-art digital communication tools, to ensure timely receipt of necessary information and provide access to data bases as needed for their efficient work.

Apart from that, the regional offices of Rostechnadzor were instructed to:

  • ensure appropriate scope of inspections and other activities to enable verification of the nuclear plant safety by the inspectors authorized to perform continuous state supervision;
  • introduce supervision over the implementation of the additional measures developed by Rosenergoatom to ensure the safe operation of the nuclear power plants under the high alert regime imposed on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Also, the Rostechnadzor guided the operating organisations to:

  • ensure safe operation of the nuclear power plants under current restrictions;
  • develop additional actions to ensure the operational safety of the nuclear power plants, in particular:
    • increase the number and thoroughness of the process system / equipment rounds;
    • deliver extra briefings for personnel to underline the work specifics under the high alert regime;
    • minimise scheduled lineups and maintenance of equipment, except for emergencies;
    • ensure the safety of the operating and duty personnel at the nuclear power plants in compliance with relevant public health requirements;
    • develop measures to warrant availability of at least the minimum number of operating personnel justified in the design documentation, should part of the staff be taken to hospitals.

Denis Mistryugov