New Delhi: Seeking to instill confidence in burgeoning atomic power sector, India is planning to ask the IAEA to conduct a peer review of its nuclear regulatory system after it is recast. The Atomic Energy Commission is preparing to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) to examine its regulatory system, which will get statutory status after the passage of the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) Bill by Parliament.
The proposal for inviting the IRRS team was discussed at length during the recent five-day visit of IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to India. "We will invite the IRRS team after the NSRA is in place," officials said.
At present, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, set up through an executive order in 1983, is the sectoral regulator. Ahead of the visit, the Union Cabinet also cleared the amendments to the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill as recommended by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which examined the draft legislation.
The Bill may be introduced in Parliament for consideration and passing in the Monsoon Session. In 2012 , India had invited a team of IAEA experts to review the operational safety measures at Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, units 3&4 at Rawatbhata.
The IAEA team had found the nuclear reactors to be among the "best and safest" in the world which showcased some good practices from which others could also learn. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report in 2012, had dubbed the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board as a weak regulator which had failed to prepare a nuclear safety policy for India in the three decades of its existence.
Kudankulam, where a nuclear power plant has come up with Russian collaboration, had witnessed months long protests in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. Activists and locals are opposing the commissioning of the 1000 MW Russian-made reactor, dubbing it unsafe.