Russian Nuclear Security Update

Russian Ministry of Justice registered new revision of Basic Rules of Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (Russian acronym: OPUK). The revision was prepared by Russian nuclear regulator, Rostechnadzor. The new OPUK, NP-030-19, became effective starting April 20th and replaced previous version, NP-030-12 enacted in 2012.

Key Changes:
  • Clarifying procedure for investigating potential and confirmed MC&A anomalies and establishing clear requirement for long-term storage of data on the anomalies
  • Defining approach to MC&A in case if both "civil" and "military" nuclear material is handled within single material balance area
  • Defining objectives for self-monitoring MC&A status and introducing requirement for planning elimination of identified deficiencies and storing monitoring results
  • Establishing explicit requirement for storing data from surveillance systems used for MC&A
  • Clarifying requirements to material custody, e.g. prohibiting to include custodians in inventory committees
  • Establishing explicit requirement for regular review and revision of key site MC&A documents
  • Adding details regarding the establishment of MC&A responsibilities at a site
  • Improving OPUK structure

Despite positive changes referred to above, new OPUK, as well as OPUK-2012, omits certain issues essential to effectiveness and sustainability of MC&A, including:

  • Trending inventory difference (ID trending). ID trending is an analysis of results of sequential physical inventories of nuclear material aimed at detecting protracted theft of small amounts of nuclear material. Once sites are not obliged to implement ID trending, there is a risk of undetected protracted theft of nuclear material.
  • Applying two-person rule anytime when category 1 and 2 nuclear material are accessed and processed. Two-person rule, joint access and continuous mutual observation by at least two duly authorised officials, is only required when accessing rooms with nuclear material and processing nuclear material in storage rooms. Once site personnel are not obliged to observe each other anytime when category 1 and 2 nuclear material are accessed and processed, there is a risk of unauthorised actions against nuclear material by insiders.

OPUK is key regulation governing MC&A of all civil nuclear material in Russia. The document is mandatory for all organizations handling nuclear material, regardless organizations legal form and ownership of nuclear material.

OPUK-19 is the third OPUK revision. Rostechnadzor developed the original OPUK approved in 2001 and two subsequent revisions, OPUK-2005 and OPUK-2012, with financial and expert support from the U.S. OPUK-19 is the first revision developed without such support.

OPUK-19 defines the same key requirements to MC&A at sites as previous OPUK revision, OPUK-2012. However, Rostechnadzor added a number of additional details, codified certain established practices and partially reflected recent regulatory changes. Below are details on key changes introduced to new OPUK compared to previous version.

COVID pandemic and its impact on nuclear safety and security is another hot topic these days. Currently, a number of Russian nuclear sites returned to normal operation disrupted earlier, but they still keep implementing measures to prevent spread of infection and losses of safety and security critical personnel. Rostechnadzor inspects and licenses nuclear sites using pre-pandemic plans and criteria, as the Government decided not to weaken oversight of nuclear safety and security during pandemic period.

For the more details visit Russian Nuclear Security

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