Report: Discussions of N-plant in Estonia must be based on reducing security risks

  • 2023-06-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - A working group on nuclear security and emergency preparedness, led by the Ministry of the Interior, found in its report that discussions around a possible nuclear power plant in Estonia must be based on reducing security risks.

Minister of the Interior Lauri Laanemets said that a recently completed analysis has effectively mapped the areas of activity and the related requirements and obligations so that informed decisions about a nuclear power plant can be made in Estonia in the future.

"When it comes to a nuclear power plant, we're talking about a project where there are no 'options' -- no concessions can be made from a security and population safety perspective, and all conditions must be met without exception," the minister said.

The main goal of nuclear security is to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing nuclear materials or nuclear facilities. The main goal of preparedness for emergencies is to minimize the possible consequences of any accident.

"This requires inevitable large-scale investments and associated fixed costs, including ICT solutions and meeting the additional needs of the associated agencies, which means a great challenge for the state in the current tense economic situation. In the final report due at the end of the year, we will be able to see more precise cost-benefit calculations and the amounts needed for investments," he said.

Viola Murd, deputy secretary general for rescue and crisis preparedness of the Ministry of the Interior and head of the working group, explained that the International Atomic Energy Agency has practically regulated everything, and all Estonia needs to do is to follow these rules.

"As for reducing security risks and preventing accidents, presently, the institutions of the Ministry of the Interior would not be able cope with the tasks envisaged. This primarily concerns manpower and competence, which the agency cannot provide us with -- we have to create these ourselves and it takes time," Murd said.

"The construction of a nuclear power plant requires the development of top specialists, experts but also a broader staff throughout the program, including ensuring security through background checks, the amount of which increases significantly as the program progresses," the deputy secretary general added.

There is also a need to create an independent national agency with sufficient competence to assess license applications and make decisions on safety, protective measures, and security issues.

The working group's analysis is part of a series of analyses and the content and details of follow-up analyses will be determined based on further decisions or information. The state's position on the possible construction of a nuclear power plant is expected in 2024.