In recent years, there has been a growing interest across the world in the designs of small nuclear power plants (SNPP) with small reactors of various types. The Russian Federation has amassed ample experience in regulating the safety of marine nuclear power installations, in particular, in the course of the oversight and supervision over icebreakers operation.
The regulatory legal framework for regulating the safety of vessels and other watercraft with nuclear reactors, developed relying on this experience, takes into consideration the recommendations of the IAEA and IMO, the provisions of relevant international conventions and the requirements of national shipping regulations, and was used as a groundwork to put in operation the world’s first floating nuclear unit ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ which is in essence a floating nuclear power plant. However, the regulatory legal framework used for the floating SNPP is not applicable to the land-based small nuclear power plants because of a great number of requirements specific to stationary nuclear facilities.
Currently, the most promising Russian design of a land-based small nuclear power plant is that of a plant with the RITM-200 reactor system. The design is to be implemented in the framework of the comprehensive national programme ‘Development of Equipment, Technologies and Scientific Research in the Field of Atomic Energy in the Russian Federation for the Period up to 2024’ endorsed by the Russian President decree No. 270 of 16.04.2020.
The RITM-200 reactor plant has a unique integral configuration so that the core and the primary circuit components are placed directly inside the steam generation unit. The steam generation unit is quite compact and is fully assembled at factory, which ensures high-quality assembly and simplifies the unit transportation to the SNPP site.
Being a scientific and technical support organisation for Rostechnadzor, starting with 2019, SEC NRS has been providing a pre-licensing tracking of the land-based SNPP designs, including the RITM-200 facility. Thus, it looked at the safety philosophy of the land-based SNPP with the RITM-200 reactor, and made a preliminary assessment of the compliance of RITM-200 design solutions with the requirements of relevant nuclear regulations. The key objective of the study was to assess the adequacy of the existing regulatory requirements for regulation of nuclear, radiological and industrial safety of SNPP with RITM-200 reactor facility. The analysis has confirmed that the documents regulating the safety of large NPPs are suitable for regulating the RITM-200 SNPP safety. The analysis also identified the RITM-200 SNPP design features that may require amendments in the current federal nuclear safety rules and regulations and the improvement of relevant standards. At the same time, the designers were advised of the areas requiring further demonstration of the RITM-200 SNPP safety or changes in the design documentation.