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IRRS mission 2019 and follow up mission 2023

The IRRS Mission 2019 was carried out in fulfillment of the EU legal obligation under Directive 2009/71/Euratom, as amended by Directive 2014/87/Euratom, which requires EU Member States to conduct a self-assessment of the national legislative, regulatory and organizational framework for, among other things, nuclear safety of nuclear installations at least every ten years and to invite a subsequent peer review by international experts.

The EU Directive 2009/70/Euratom contains a corresponding obligation for the area of nuclear spent fuel management as well as radioactive waste. To fulfill this obligation, a review mission was carried out with the help of the IAEA Radioactive Waste Management Integrated Review Service (ARTEMIS) at the end of September 2019. To achieve synergy, the scope of the IRRS mission was expanded to include nuclear waste management. The results of the IRRS mission related to disposal were also used for the ARTEMIS mission, where they were mainly focused on the review of the National Waste Management Program.

Preparations for the IRRS mission 2019

As explained in the introduction, the IRRS mission process kicks off with the national self-assessment of the regulatory supervision system.

The self-assessment was based on the IAEA SARIS-catalogue of over 670 questions. In a first step, the requirements of the IAEA Safety Standards were compared with German licensing and regulatory practices (regulatory framework benchmark against IAEA-Standards). Subsequently, the questions were answered. The range of questions required this work to be distributed among the participating authorities, with due coordination and discussion of responses.

Issues found by the self-assessment to be open, including measures to be taken, were set out in the National Action Plan.

The self-assessment (responses of the SARIS questionnaire and summaries), the National Action Plan, the relevant legislative acts and regulations as well as documents on the organization and work practices of the nuclear licensing and regulatory authorities were compiled in an Advance Reference Material (ARM) and sent to the IAEA on 31 January 2019.

Conducting the IRRS mission 2019

The licensing and regulatory authorities of the Federation and the Länder, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein answered questions from a high-level international team of experts from regulatory bodies and the IAEA during the two-week mission from 31 March to 19 April 2019. The aim was to ascertain how far Germany's nuclear legislation and regulatory practices meet the requirements of international safety standards.

Over the course of the mission, the team held many interviews with employees of the participating authorities. They also talked with Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and Helmfried Meinel, director-general in the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector. The international experts were able to form a more detailed picture of German inspection practices by accompanying an inspection in the Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Station (GKN).

The results of the two-week mission were set out in a report which the IAEA submitted to Germany in mid-July 2019. The international team of experts confirmed that Germany's nuclear regulatory system meets the IAEA's Safety Standards. The IRRS team judged the nuclear licensing and supervisory authorities of the Federation and the Länder to be mature and competent, also highlighting the effective cooperation with other organizations and groups. The report identified areas of exemplary practice and areas with excellent implementation of the international Safety Standards. , However, the experts also noted areas with potential for improvement, which was set out in six recommendations and 25 suggestions. Most of the recommendations and suggestions endorsed the actions of the National Action Plan drawn up by the German authorities prior to the IRRS mission. They relate to the following topics: maintaining competence in nuclear safety up to and beyond the phase-out of commercial nuclear energy, further development of the regulatory framework for research reactors, decommissioning and waste management, improving management systems through regular assessments and independent audits.

Follow up mission 2023

Following the IRRS Mission 2019, measures to implement the recommendations and suggestions were defined and continuously monitored by licensing and supervisory authorities of the Federation and the Länder.

The status of implementation of the recommendations and suggestions was reviewed and evaluated by an international team of experts as part of the IRRS Follow-up Mission from October 9 - 16, 2023. The ten-member team of experts, consisting of senior staff of foreign nuclear regulatory authorities and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), held a large number of discussions with staff of the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUV), the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) and the responsible ministries of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein.

This final report confirms Germany's commitment to improving and further developing the national supervisory system for the nuclear safety of nuclear facilities and installations. As a result, all six recommendations and almost all of the 25 suggestions from the initial mission 2019 are considered implemented. The implementation process could not be completed for two suggestions due to ongoing or pending activities. In addition, two new suggestions were issued. The areas affected are the further development of the integrated management system as well as decommissioning and disposal of radioactive waste with negligible heat generation.