In performing their nuclear licensing and supervisory activities, the competent authorities may consult technical safety organisations or individual authorised experts; this is standard practice.
Authorised experts are consulted on almost every technical issue relating to safety assessments for nuclear installations and their operation. They are particularly involved in all licensing and supervisory procedures, including operational assessments, reportable events, periodic reviews and applications for modifications to plants or their operation.
The factors to be considered when commissioning authorised experts, such as
- professional knowledge and skills,
- reliability, and
are specified in guidelines.
For this purpose, the authorised experts conduct their own checks and calculations, also utilising methods and programs different from those used by the applicant. The persons involved in preparing the expert opinions are not required to adhere to any specific technical instructions. Their names are notified to the commissioning authority.
The scope of expert services is always determined by the competent authority. In making their decisions, however, the authorities are not bound by the assessments made by the authorised experts.
The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) also consults national and international experts if necessary for its exercise of federal oversight. Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) gGmbH is the main expert organisation advising the BMUV on technical issues.
The GRS is an independent non-profit scientific and research organisation. It conducts scientific research, mainly on behalf of the Federal Government, on reactor safety, nuclear fuels and waste management, and radiation protection. Insofar as its research produces findings of relevance to the non-nuclear sector, it also works on specific environmental and safety research issues. In addition, GRS takes on commissions, albeit to a very limited extent, from the nuclear licensing and supervisory authorities of the Länder.