Mr. Jing Zhang, Section Head, Europe Section 1 in the Department of Technical Cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is on visit in Bulgaria from May 15 to 19, 2023. The purpose of the visit is the holding of a Regional Training Course on Verification of Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for New Serological and Molecular Techniques, hosted by the National Diagnostic and Research Veterinary Medical Institute at the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency. The course is organized within the framework of the IAEA’s ZODIAC initiative, aimed at assisting Member States in combating zoonotic diseases and preventing future pandemics. Bulgaria fully supports the ZODIAC initiative, including as a financial donor. To date, Bulgaria’s financial contribution to the initiative amounts to 75,000 euros, of which 65,000 euros have been provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and 10,000 euros by the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (BNRA). During the visit, Mr. Zhang held a meeting with the management of the BNRA, where the progress on the implementation of the project “Implementing an Integrated Approach for Capacity Building at the Nuclear Regulatory Agency” was discussed. During his visit, the IAEA representative will also meet with other Bulgarian beneficiaries of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Program in Sofia and Plovdiv. The aim is to get acquainted with the implementation of existing and the preparation of the planned national projects, as well as with the results and benefits of already implemented ones in the country. Bulgaria has over 45 years of cooperation with IAEA under the Technical Cooperation Program in various areas such as nuclear safety and radiation protection, radioactive waste management, nuclear applications, administrative capacity building, etc. During this period, more than 70 projects were successfully implemented by various organizations in the country, not only in the field of nuclear energy, but also in medicine, health care and agriculture. Bulgaria actively participates in a number of regional and inter-regional projects organized under the Program. The Bulgarian national coordinator of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Program is the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency.
The International Atomic Energy Agency launches its Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme (MSCFP) for the next application call. The programme was first initiated in 2020 and seeks to increase the number of women in the nuclear field. It aims to support young women to pursue a career in the field of nuclear energy and nuclear applications. Besides the financial support, the fellowship gives opportunities in participation in internship programmes, as well as participation in various educational and professional events. Interested parties may apply for the Fellowship till the end September 2023. For more information how to apply, please visit the following link: https://www.iaea.org/services/key-programmes/iaea-marie-sklodowska-curie-fellowship-programme
The International Atomic Energy Agency organizes the 29th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference, which will be held in London, United Kingdom, from 16 to 21 October 2023. The 29th Fusion Energy Conference aims to provide a forum for the discussion of key physics and technology issues as well as innovative concepts of direct relevance to the use of nuclear fusion as a future source of energy. For more information and how to apply, please see the attached file.
The International Atomic Energy Agency launches its new Lise Meitner Programme (LMP) which focuses on career development of women in the nuclear field. It aims to boost women professional, to expand their vision and experience with technical and managerial activities, in addition to creating community of women nuclear professionals. The programme will be launched on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2023. The programme includes professional visits to various nuclear facilities, including facilities under construction, operation or decommissioning, research centers, scientific institutions, laboratories and also includes on-site lectures and discussions. The first professional visits under the LMP are expected to take place in June 2023, in the United States of America. Candidates interested in the professional visits taking place in the USA are invited to submit applications no later than Sunday, March 19, 2023. For more information and how to apply, please visit the following link: https://www.iaea.org/services/key-programmes/lise-meitner-programme/information-for-applicants
The 66th Regular Annual Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was held in Vienna, Austria rom September 26 to 30, 2022. Of key importance for our country was the election of Bulgaria as a member of the Board of Governors of the IAEA for the period 2022-2024. The General Conference approved the Agency’s budget, resolutions in the field of nuclear safety and security and the IAEA Safeguards System and other important documents for the IAEA’s activities. As head of the Bulgarian delegation during the session Mr. Tsanko Bachiyski presented a national speech on behalf of Bulgaria. In his speech, Mr. Bachiyski emphasized our country’s full support to the internationally recognized safety and security principles and standards in the nuclear sector, developed and approved within the framework of the IAEA. He emphasized the need for strict compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the IAEA safeguards system. Bulgaria is a responsible and constructive partner of the international community in the field of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and supports the efforts of the IAEA to find a harmonized approach to the regulation of new technological solutions in the sector. Outside the plenary sessions, Mr. Bachiyski held bilateral meetings with high-ranking representatives of the IAEA, the European Commission and similar regulatory bodies from other countries. At the meeting with IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security Ms. Lydie Evrard issues related to the IAEA’s NHSI (Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative) aimed at exchanging information and harmonizing regulatory requirements for safety in relation to small modular reactors, and the cooperation between the regulators and the industry in this area were discussed. The holding of a workshop on IAEA safety standards in June 2023 in Bulgaria and an IAEA IRRS mission in October 2024 were also considered. At the joint meeting, together with the heads of the regulators of the EU countries with VVER reactors, with the deputy director of the General Directorate “Energy” of the European Commission Mr. Massimo Garriba, issues on the diversification of nuclear fuel supplies for VVER reactors were discussed. In a separate meeting of Mr. Gariba with the Deputy Minister of Energy Mr. Elenko Bozhkov and the members of the Bulgarian delegation, the implementation of projects within the Kozloduy NPP Units 1-4 Decommissioning Programme was discussed, with a special focus on the project for the rehabilitation of Chaira PSHPP. The implementation of the activities on diversification of supplies of fresh nuclear fuel for the Kozloduy NPP was also considered. At the meeting of Mr. Tsanko Bachiyski with Mr. Daniel H. Dorman, Executive Director of Operations of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, issues on the diversification of fresh nuclear fuel supplies, the US experience in the licensing process for small modular reactors were discussed. The continuation of the terms of validity of the existing Agreement between the two regulatory bodies, signed in 2018, was also considered. In the talks with the President of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Türkiye, Dr. Zafer Demircan, the two sides discussed concrete measures for exchange of experts based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2022. The meeting with the Hungarian Atomic Energy Agency the possibilities of expanding the cooperation between the two regulatory bodies within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2018 were discussed. The chairman of the BNRA also participated in the meetings of the Bulgarian delegation with Mr. Anthony Wier, U.S. Department of State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Policy, with representatives of the US industry led by the Dr. Monica Gorman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing of the U.S. Department of Commerce, with the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic Mr. Tomáš Ehler and with representatives of the French company EDF. At the meetings, Deputy Minister Bozhkov presented the current state of Bulgaria’s nuclear program, and the plans for its development. Issues related to the technologies for small modular reactors being developed by the US and France were also discussed. Issues related to the diversification of nuclear fuel supplies were considered with the US representatives. During the conversation with Framatome, Mr. Bachiyski informed the representatives of the French company with the nuclear fuel licensing procedures for Kozloduy NPP EAD.
The 66th Regular Annual Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be held from 26 to 30 September 2022 in Vienna, Austria. The head of the Bulgarian delegation is the chairman of the BNRA, Mr. Tsanko Bachiyski. The delegation also includes Mr. Elenko Bozhkov, Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr. Ivan Andreev, CEO of BEH EAD, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Kozloduy NPP EAD, SERAW. The IAEA General Conference is the main political forum within which the 175 member countries of the organization adopt the main documents for its activities – the Agency’s budget and relevant resolutions in the field of nuclear safety and security, technical cooperation, nuclear science, technology and application of nuclear methods, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Safeguard system under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, etc. During the session, Mr. Baichiyski, as well as the heads of the other delegations, will deliver the national speech on behalf of the Republic of Bulgaria. Our country is expected to be nominated as a member of the Board of Governors of the IAEA for the period 2022-2024. Outside the plenary session, members of the Bulgarian delegation will hold meetings with representatives of US industry led by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Commerce Dr. Monica Gorman, with the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic Tomáš Ehler and with the French companies EDF and Framatome. The Chairman of the BNRA, Mr. Bachiyski, will also have meetings with the heads of the regulatory bodies of the USA, Hungary and Türkiye, with the Deputy Director General of the IAEA and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, Ms. Lydie Evrard, and with the Deputy Director of DG Energy of the European Commission Mr. Massimo Garribba.
The Chairman of the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (BNRA) Tsanko Bachiyski and the Deputy Chairman, Mr. Borislav Stanimirov carried out a working visit to Turkiye at the invitation of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NDK) of the country from 25 to 27 July 2022. During the visit, the two parties exchanged information on the structure and functions of the two regulatory bodies, their role in regulating the safe use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and the prospects for future cooperation between them. In the framework of the visit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the BNRA and NDK for cooperation and information exchange in the field of nuclear safety and security. The text of the Memorandum was approved by a Decision No. 326 of the Council of Ministers dated May 20, 2022. The document provides for the exchange of expertise, technical and regulatory information in the field of nuclear and radiation safety, emergency response and preparedness, radioactive waste management and the transportation of radioactive material. Following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Bulgarian delegation also visited the site of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which is under construction in the province of Mersin. Akkuyu NPP is the first nuclear power plant in Turkiye and comprises of 4 new generation WWER reactors with a capacity of 1200 MW each. Akkuyu NPP is considered to be the largest construction site in the world at the moment, employing over 26,000 workers. The nuclear power plant is also the only one where the construction of all four nuclear units is carried out simultaneously. The first unit of the Akkuyu NPP is expected to be commissioned in 2023. After its final completion, the nuclear plant will produce about 35 billion kWh of electricity annually and cover about 10% of Turkiye electricity consumption. The country plans to build two more nuclear power plants as part of the development of its nuclear program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency launches its Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme (MSCFP) for 2022/2023. The programme was first initiated in 2020 and seeks to increase the number of women in the nuclear field. It aims to support young women to pursue a career in the field of nuclear energy and nuclear applications. Besides the financial support, the fellowship gives opportunities in participation in internship programmes, as well as participation in various educational and professional events. Interested parties may apply for the Fellowship till September 30, 2022. For more information how to apply, please visit the following link: https://www.iaea.org/about/overview/gender-at-the-iaea/iaea-marie-sklodowska-curie-fellowship-programme/Information-for-applicants
The operator of Unit III of the Finnish nuclear power plant Olkiluoto (OL3) – Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) received permission to initially bring the reactor to a minimum controllable power level and perform the necessary tests. The permit was issued by the Finnish Regulatory Authority (STUK) after successful fulfillment of preconditions related to the confirmation of the readiness of the unit for initial power uprate. It is envisaged that a further increase in power over 5%, 30% and 60%, respectively, will take place after the issuance of the necessary permits by STUK. The unit has an EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) reactor with a maximum electrical power of 1600 MW.
The nuclear field is a specific area of use of human potential. Despite the state’s efforts and investment in education, there is an imbalance between the needs of the economy and the available staff. The Interdepartmental Working Group, established by an order of the Council of Ministers, prepared a Draft National Strategy for Human Resources Development in the Nuclear Sphere 2022-2032. The main goal is to build a sustainable system for training, improvement and development of specialists needed for the efficient operation of the nuclear sector. The important task is to create conditions for expanded admission of young people in secondary and higher education, for their training in the field of engineering, technical and fundametal sciences, to stimulate their professional realization. The National Strategy has been uploaded on the website of the Council of Ministers for discussion until December 23, 2021 and is available here.