Nuclear safety bill in final version to allow Energoatom to take out loan of EUR 200 mln – MP Gerus
Bill No. 2372, adopted by Verkhovna Rada at first reading, providing for the independence of the nuclear regulator, will allow National Nuclear Generating Company Energoatom, after its final approval, to take out an additional loan of EUR 200 million for safety programs, Head of the Rada committee on energy and housing and utility services Andriy Gerus has said.
"There is a loan agreement between the EBRD, Euroatom and Energoatom. With the approval of the bill, Energoatom will be able to receive EUR 200 million of loan funds at low interest rates. This will improve its financial position and allow funding additional safety measures at the power units," Gerus said at a briefing in parliament on Friday, April 24.
He expressed the hope that the bill would be finally approved in the near future.
"This bill was supported by representatives of the European Commission and the Energy Community. We also received a letter from the G7 ambassadors supporting this document," the committee's head said.
He also said that the bill is aimed at renewing and strengthening the legal status and independent functioning of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate.
"In this way, we will help the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate oversight the observance of compliance with safety measures at nuclear power plants in professional and independent way," Gerus said.
The authors of bill No. 2372 amending some laws of Ukraine regarding the safe use of nuclear energy, adopted at first reading applying the simplified procedure for preparing it for second reading at extraordinary session of the Verkhovna Rada on Friday, April 24, are a number of MPs of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction, in particular Ostap Shypailo, Andriy Gerus, and Yuriy Kamelchuk.
According to the explanatory note to the bill, it is proposed to cancel the application of the law of Ukraine on the basic principles of the public supervision (control) in the sphere of economic activity and the law on the licensing of types of economic activity after legislative changes made to them in 2016 and replace them by supervision over the observance of compliance with safety measures in nuclear energy use and activity licensing in this area.
According to the authors of the document, the norms of these laws do not include the specifics of the field of nuclear energy use, associated with increased danger, and also limit the independence of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate.
In particular, the norm on licensing types of economic activity violates the independence of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate. This norm provides for unscheduled inspections of licensees in some cases only subject to approval by the expert and appeal board on licensing issues under the State Regulatory Service. In addition, the independence of the inspectorate is affected by the norm, according to which the license revoked by it remains valid until the appeal is examined by the expert and appeal board.
"The termination of the decision of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate on the license cancellation if the licensee violates safety measures can lead to accidents with radiation consequences, therefore, such decisions should be taken immediately after the revealed violations," the MPs said in the explanatory note.
Its authors said that the renewal of the inspectorate independence is a condition of a number of international documents, in particular, the Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Energy Partnership between the EU together with the European Atomic Energy Community and Ukraine, as well as the agreements between Ukraine and the European Atomic Energy Community regarding the provision of a loan to Energoatom, equivalent to EUR 300 million, for safety programs.