Russian Nuclear Security Update
Dear Colleagues,
We are pleased to share with you the April 2020 issue of Russian Nuclear Security Update.

April highlight is enactment of NP-030-19 Basic Rules for Control and Accounting of Nuclear Material (or OPUK), key Russian nuclear security regulation.

OPUK-2019 issued in April is a replacement of previous revision issued eight years ago, OPUK-2012. OPUK-2019 is the first revision developed by Rostechnadzor, Russian nuclear regulator, without substantial expert and financial support from the U.S within the framework of the U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear security.

OPUK-2019 sees many improvements, including those that were discussed during multiple technical exchanges between Rostechnadzor and its foreign counterparts, yet several important gaps identified in 2012 revision remain. On the other hand, Rostechnadzor rejected amendments suggested by Russian nuclear sites that would reduce burden on sites, but also reduce the effectiveness of control and accounting for nuclear material.

This indicates maturity and sustainability of regulatory development process in Russia, Rostechnadzor capability to regulate nuclear security, as well as highlight value of sharing nuclear security expertise for gradual improvement of nuclear security.

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. You can follow regular updates of the nuclear industry response to COVID-19 through our twitter account, as well as newsfeed at our website.

Enjoy reading!


On April 10, 2020, Russian Ministry of Justice registered new revision of Basic Rules of Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials also known by its Russian acronym OPUK. The revision was prepared by Russian nuclear regulator, Rostechnadzor. Rostechnadzor approved the revision in November 2019. Registration by the Ministry of Justice and subsequent official publication are final steps of enactment process. New OPUK, NP-030-19, will be effective starting April 20th and replace previous version, NP-030-12 enacted in 2012.

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. Changes include:
  • 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 authorized 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 unauthorized actions against nuclear material by insiders.
The development of OPUK-2019 included development of the first draft, public review, anticorruption review, and preparation of final draft taking into account comments received during the reviews. As a result of public review, Rostechnadzor released summary of comments received during the review. Although both nuclear sites and independent experts submitted their comments, the summary only included comments from sites.

During the public review certain nuclear sites suggested revisions to OPUK that would reduce burden on sites, but also reduce MC&A effectiveness. Rostechnadzor declined all of these suggestions. The example of declined suggestions is adding a statement that allows taking physical inventory for part of nuclear material in material balance area, and not all nuclear material. Regular and complete physical inventories in material balance areas is one of MC&A cornerstones. Partial physical inventory creates the risk that potential anomaly, including associated with unauthorized use or theft of nuclear material, is not timely detected.

The other interesting insight from the public review is nuclear sites' concern re lack of clear criteria and requirements to transferring nuclear material from accounting within the state system for control and accounting of nuclear material used for defense purposes to the system for state control and accounting of civil nuclear material. However, this issue is outside OPUK scope and should be regulated by other documents.

Valid text of new OPUK is available at government web-site for official publication of regulations.


      On April 3, Russian Government issued two decrees establishing special licensing and oversight procedures for pandemic period. The documents were issued pursuant to the Federal law 98-FZ to facilitate response to pandemic. Earlier we published the detailed information on this Federal law.

      The Government Decree N 438 establishes special procedures for planning and conducting oversight in 2020. The procedures apply to oversight of nuclear security as well.

      The procedure defines that nuclear sites handling nuclear material and operating nuclear facilities remain subject to scheduled oversight inspections. The procedure also defines exhaustive list of grounds for conducting unscheduled inspections, including inspections of nuclear sites.

      Although a list of grounds for conducting unscheduled inspection substantially differ from the list defined in regular oversight procedures, grounds applicable to nuclear security inspections mostly remain the same, e.g.:
      • The inspections assigned by the President or the Government
      • The inspection aimed at verifying elimination of recently detected violation of regulatory requirements to restore recently suspended license
      • The inspection conducted after an organization applies for a license to verify compliance with licensing criteria. In case of nuclear license, such criteria include nuclear security
      The inspections, scheduled and unscheduled, have to be conducted remotely, e.g. by using audio or video. The procedure defines several exceptions that allow conducting on-site inspection, e.g. authorization from the Government or President. We assume that Rostechnadzor will develop new approaches and procedures for remote inspections, as before such inspections were not a part of nuclear oversight, including oversight of nuclear security.

      The Government Decree N 440 defines specifics of licensing in 2020. The decree does not apply to nuclear licensing. Thus, Rostechnadzor uses regular licensing procedures, taking into account provisions of Government decree N 438 related to licensing inspections mentioned above. We assume that the Government may later define specific procedures for nuclear licensing. We do not expect substantial relaxation of licensing procedures or criteria.

      On April 22 the Government Decree N 557 was issued which explicitly excludes the nuclear industry, including nuclear security, from these special oversight procedures.

      After the Government Decree N 557 was issued, no special procedures defined for pandemic period could be applied for planning and conducting the nuclear oversight.

      We assume that the Government may establish special procedures for nuclear oversight, including nuclear security, later.


          Current COVID-19 crisis affects nuclear industry in multiple ways. Ensuring reliable power supply is critical for overloaded healthcare infrastructure. Yet, nuclear industry operation personnel can be affected by pandemic as well, thus creating not only power productions risks, but also safety and security risks to nuclear facilities and materials. The Russian Nuclear Security Update provides update on how nuclear industry in Russia and worldwide responds to COVID-19 outbreak.
              UPDATE – APRIL 8, 2020
              Nuclear Sites Receive Security Recommendations for Pandemic Period from Rostechnadzor and Ministry of Emergencies
              On March 31, deputy head of the Russian Ministry of Emergencies approved safety and security recommendations for pandemic period to support critical sites in response to COVID-19 emergency. On April 2, Rostechnadzor, Russian nuclear regulator, obliged its regional offices to communicate these recommendations to nuclear sites, monitor implementation of the recommendation, and report monitoring results to Special Security Department of Rostechnadzor headquarters, which is normally responsible for regulation of nuclear security at sites.

              Examples of recommendations with direct impact on site nuclear security systems:
              • Upgrading site physical protection systems, including physical barriers, access control systems, video surveillance systems and equipment for detaining intruders
              • Using all entry control points available at sites to prevent crowding
              • Providing personal protective equipment (medical body covers and masks) to pro-force securing sites
              • Using body temperature control as apart of access control procedure
              Rostechnadzor also specifically appealed to the management of Rosenergoatom, operator of Russian NPPs, to ensure safe and secure operation of the NPPs during COVID emergency. The message includes recommendation to prepare for work in pandemic conditions, e.g. define measures ensuring sufficiency of operational personnel for safe routine operation and operation procedure to be used in case if personnel is not sufficient.

              Rosatom Director General, Alexey Likhachev Continues Providing Updates on COVID-19 Situation at Rosatom. Key Statements of April 4 and April 7 Updates:
              • Eleven more COVID-positive individuals are detected in Rosatom companies in addition to four cases reported on April 1, including at Mining Chemical Combine, in Rosenergoatom headquarters, and in Atomguard, Rosatom pro-force securing Rosatom sites.
              • Preventive measures that have been taken allow to keep situation under control.
              • Closed cities hosting Rosatom sites put additional restrictions on entering and leaving the cities to reduce risk of infection of Rosatom sites' personnel.
              • Rosatom expects that sites that suspended their work partially or in full will be restoring full-scale operation starting from April 13 taking into account local COVID situation. The sites should implement anti-COVID measures, e.g. body temperature control, the use of personal protective equipment and social distancing.
              • Rosatom companies will support economics in cities where the companies are located, including support to local business suffering from crisis caused by the pandemic.
              These are the third and fourth updates. Outline of previous updates is also available in Russian Nuclear Security Update.

              Closed Cities Hosting Nuclear Sites Put Additional Access Restrictions to Protect Sites' Personnel
              Over May 30-April 2, a number of closed cities hosting critical sites announced additional restrictions on accessing and leaving the cities aimed at protecting personnel of critical sites from infection. This includes cities hosting Rosatom nuclear sites. Severity of additional restrictions vary from city to city. Example of Rosatom closed cities that implement additional access restrictions:
              • Seversk, Tomsk Region. Hosts Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC/Tomsk-7), one of the largest nuclear sites in the World holding dozens of tons of weapon usable nuclear materials.
              • Novouralsk, Sverdlovsk Region. Hosts Urals Electrochemical Industrial Plant (UEIP) operating uranium enrichment facilities.
              • Ozersk, Chelyabinsk Region. Hosts Mayak operating facilities processing spent nuclear fuel from Rosatom civil and military nuclear sites.
              In addition, access restrictions were established for typically open city of Polyarnie Zori, Murmansk region, where Kola Nuclear Power Plant is located.

              Rosatom Starts Sterilizing Medical Masks for Russian Hospitals
              Sterion company affiliated with Rosatom started radiation sterilization of medical masks supplied to Russian hospitals. To speed up the work, the company works in three shifts covering 24 hours. Other Rosatom companies that have capabilities for sterilizing the masks will soon join Sterion.

              Kazakhstan Nuclear Company Contributes to Fight Against COVID Pandemic
              Personnel of Kazakhstan National Nuclear Company, Kazatomprom, donated one-day salary to medics fighting against COVID-19. The money will be spent on material support for the medics and personal protective equipment for them. In addition, Kazatomprom and its French partner Orano committed 50 million Tenge (USD $111,478) to support Kazakhstan citizens during the pandemic and 100 million Tenge (USD $222,955) to buy six Lung Ventilation Devices for hospitals.
              Kazatomprom affiliated companies and headquarters take a number of measures to address safety and security risks associated with COVID pandemic. This includes creating crisis centers, developing contingency plans, transferring personnel of Kazatomprom headquarters to remote work, monitoring personnel health and providing personal protective equipment to the personnel.
                      UPDATE – APRIL 11, 2020
                      Rosatom Reports New Cases of Infection at Sites and Continues Isolating Essential Personnel

                      Cities Hosting Nuclear Sites Adjust Additional Access Restrictions

                      Closed cities hosting Rosatom nuclear sites adjusted the announced earlier additional restrictions on accessing and leaving the cities, aimed at protecting personnel of critical sites from infection, e.g.:
                      • More additional access restrictions were announced in Seversk, Tomsk region. Seversk hosts Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC/Tomsk-7), one of the largest nuclear sites in the World holding dozens of tons of weapon usable nuclear materials. Now, in addition to the security pass, citizens should have the document confirming that they had a right to leave the city. Such documents are issued to personnel of essential organizations working during pandemic, individuals who need medical treatments, etc.
                      • Additional access restrictions were lifted in Novouralsk, Sverdlovsk Region. Novouralsk hosts Urals Electrochemical Industrial Plant (UEIP) operating uranium enrichment facilities. However, the additional restrictions could be implemented again, depending on epidemiological situation.
                      In addition, the access restrictions were established for typically open city of Sosnovy Bor, where Leningrad NPP is located.

                      Russian Shipyards Servicing Nuclear Fleet Resume Work as Normal
                      Russian shipyards Nerpa and Sevmash reported on resuming work after the coronavirus 'non-working week' from March 30 to April 5, as the President did not declare a state of emergency in the country:

                      Rosatom Contributes to Fight against COVID-19 Pandemic

                      Kazakhstan Provides Update on the Impact of COVID-19 on Its Nuclear Industry
                      Kazatomprom, the world's largest producer and seller of natural uranium, reports on expected decrease of uranium production due to restrictions put by Kazakhstan Government to mitigate COVID emergency, e.g. restrictions on the movement of people and strict hygiene directives. Currently, these restrictions and directives apply to all Kazatomprom offices and sites. Kazatomprom reduced the number of staff on its sites to minimum possible levels, except the key personnel. We assume this exception includes the nuclear safety and security personnel.
                              UPDATE – APRIL 15, 2020
                              Rostechnadzor Resumes Nuclear Licensing
                              Rostechnadzor reports on resuming nuclear licensing since April 13, 2020. Until May 6, 2020 the application documents will be only be accepted in soft copy by e-mail.

                              Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev Continues Updates on COVID-19 Situation at Rosatom. Highlights of April 13 Update:
                              • Rosatom starts returning to the normal operation. However, there is no universal scheme for all enterprises. For each specific enterprise, it will depend on the situation in the region, city and the enterprise itself.
                              • This week, April 13 - 19, more than 90 thousand employees of Rosatom enterprises will return to their usual work schedule, about 30 thousand will continue to work remotely.
                              • For major federal centers such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Rosatom keeps the 'special regime' aimed to keep Rosatom employees safe, while continuing work under the state defense procurement programs, meeting all international obligations, as well as ensuring the continuous production.
                              • Rosatom maintains restrictions for employees over 65, mothers and fathers with many children, pregnant women, workers with disabilities, as well as those with chronic diseases. All of them, without exception, either work remotely or stay in quarantine and get the paid leave.
                              • The number of Rosatom employees with coronavirus rose up to 39 by April 13. Eight people recovered completely.
                              • Rosatom specialists from Federal nuclear centers created their own computer models for estimating the growth rate of COVID-19 pandemic. They estimate this pandemic as a long-term.

                              Another City with Nuclear Power Plant Establishes Access Restrictions
                              Nine cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Udomlya, Tver region, where Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant is located. Authorities of the Tver region put additional access restrictions on accessing and leaving the city until April 30.

                              Rosatom Enterprises Resume Work as Normal
                              • On April 13, Electrohimpribor Plant at Lesnoy, Sverdlovsk region, one of two remaining weapon assembly sites, resumed the main isotope production
                              • ARMZ Uranium Holding, Rosatom mining division, resumes work in the regions taking into account the epidemiological situation.

                              Rosenergoatom Provides Volunteer Assistance
                              Rosenergoatom attracts volunteers from among the members of the NPP youth organizations to provide assistance (delivery of food, medicine, payment of utility bills, etc.) to employees over 65 years of age, retired and veterans. Currently, about 130 specially trained volunteers work daily. In most cases, assistance is provided without physical contact. All volunteers are equipped with personal protective equipment.
                              Psychologists from Beloyarsk NPP join the volunteers and, starting this week, provide free psychological counseling for anyone who needs it.

                              Read more in our previous Updates on Impact of COVID-19 Crisis on Nuclear Safety and Security:
                                      UPDATE – APRIL 22, 2020
                                      Rostechnadzor Held Online Meeting Addressing Its Work during Pandemic
                                      On April 14, 2020, the Head of Rostechnadzor, Alexey Aleshin, held an unscheduled online meeting with the heads of Rostechnadzor regional offices conducting inspections at sites. The meeting was mainly dedicated to recent changes introduced to oversight procedures, including procedures for nuclear oversight, to adjust to pandemic reality. Earlier, Russian Nuclear Security Update published details on these changes.
                                      Due to increased intensity of work, Aleshin instructed to relieve the regional offices of some reporting formalities and to provide other measures aimed at reducing the current workload. Additionally, Aleshin recommended inspectors detecting violations at sites to preferably apply non-financial sanctions for these violations if possible. However, he emphasized that strict sanctions such as termination or suspension of site operations should still be applied to sites for gross violations of safety and security requirements.

                                      Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev Continues Updates on COVID-19 Situation at Rosatom. Highlights of April 21 Update:
                                      • Rosatom keeps returning to the normal operation. For each specific enterprise, return to normal operation depends on the situation in region, city and the enterprise itself. More than 150 thousand employees of Rosatom enterprises returned to their usual work schedule, about 29 thousand continue to work remotely.
                                      • By April 21, the number of Rosatom employees with COVID-19 is 47, 31 employees have completely recovered.
                                      • In most cities hosting Rosatom nuclear sites there are none or very few cases without the spread of the infection, for example, Novouralsk, Lesnoy, Bilibino.
                                      • Cities hosting Rosatom nuclear sites, where the number of COVID-infected cases keeps raising, are Zarechny in Penza region, Zheleznogorsk, Obninsk, Sarov and Udomlya. For example, in Sarov the first case was confirmed on April 8. By April 21, there are 23 cases, including 7 employees of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center.
                                      • Rosatom started to assign and train the backup personnel for all top managers (in the central office in Moscow, in divisions and its enterprises) to keep the entire system working in case if someone from the management get infected. Managers and their backups must maintain permanent contact, but being distanced from each other.

                                      COVID Testing at Nuclear Sites and New Cases of Infection

                                      Anti-COVID Measures at Nuclear Sites
                                      • Russian NPPs keep operating normally, but in 'higher state of readiness'. Rosenergoatom, operator of the Russian NPPs, ensure to fulfill the annual plan for electricity generation despite the limitations related to the spread of COVID-19.
                                      • Rosenergoatom keeps implementing various measures against the spread of COVID-19, including constant health monitoring of the personnel, disinfection of premises and transportation. Additionally, certain NPPs organized its own production of masks to ensure its guaranteed availability in any circumstances.
                                      • Part of NPPs' personnel continues working remotely. Others work keeping the physical distance. NPPs keep isolating the key operational personnel in temporary accommodation with 24/7 medical supervision to prevent infection.
                                      • The access restrictions were established for typically open cities, where NPPs are located, including Desnogorsk (Smolensk region), Kurchatov (Kursk region), Polyarnye Zori (Murmansk region) and Udomlya (Tver region).

                                      Contribution of Nuclear Industry in Fight against Pandemic
                                      • Rosatom donated EURO 500,000 to the IAEA to combat COVID-19 reported Rafael Grossi, the IAEA Director, in his twitter: "Many thanks to Rosatom for generous donation of €500,000 to the Agency in these urgent times of COVID-19. This contribution will help us send out more testing equipment and protective gear to countries in much need. This is how we can defeat the virus: together!"
                                      • In Seversk, the Siberian Chemical Combine, in cooperation with the National Guard troop for radiation and biological protection, designed the spray-guns with disinfectors for the decontamination vehicles. The equipment is now used for disinfection of the Combine facilities and the closed city's entry control points.
                                      • Sterion company affiliated with Rosatom started sterilization of medical kits for COVID-19 testing, using the exposure to accelerated electrons. These medical kits designed for safe collection and transportation of biological samples to laboratories for in vitro diagnostics. The sterilization method was designed for the safe sterilization of medical supplies without the need to unpack them from the shipping containers provided by manufacturers. After the procedure, the kit can be used immediately.
                                      • Federal Medical-Biological Agency of Russia (FMBA) designed two systems for screening and diagnosis of COVID-19. In 15–20 minutes, these systems can detect the infection and show the signs of deterioration in the patient's condition as well. FMBA is a federal agency under the Ministry of Health responsible for the healthcare in hazardous working environments, including the nuclear industry.
                                      • Beloyarsk NPP handed over 500 protective gowns for the health workers treating patients with coronavirus in Yekaterinburg hospital.
                                                UPDATE – APRIL 29, 2020
                                                Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev Continues Updates on COVID-19 Situation at Rosatom. Highlights of April 28 Update:
                                                • Rosatom keeps returning to the normal operation. By April 27, 172 thousand employees of Rosatom enterprises returned to their usual work schedule, including 39 thousand employees at Rosenergoatom, 20 thousand at the Fuel Division, 18.5 thousand in the Engineering Division, and 43 thousand at the nuclear weapon complex.
                                                • By April 27, the number of Rosatom employees with COVID-19 was 86, 51 employees have completely recovered.
                                                • The virus keeps spreading to the regions. This poses a direct threat to Rosatom nuclear cities (cities hosting the Rosatom enterprises). Rosatom is particularly concerned about the situation in Sarov, Elektrostal and Desnogorsk. The first cases of COVID-19 were identified in the closed city of Trekhgorny, Chelyabinsk region, where the Instrument Engineering Plant is located. Local authorities strengthened the quarantine measures in the city.
                                                • Rosatom buys medical equipment and personal protection equipment for medical units, including 192 lung ventilators. The first shipments of equipment will go to Sarov, Zarechny in Penza Region, Kurchatov, Udomlya, Obninsk, where the number of cases is the highest.
                                                • The additional restrictions on entering and leaving the cities are remaining.
                                                • Rosatom leadership, including the general director, his deputies, heads of divisions and the largest enterprises of the industry (over 200 people), decided to donate their monthly salary to the fund for combating the COVID pandemic.

                                                Anti-COVID Measures at Nuclear Sites
                                                • Khiagda, part of Rosatom mining division, made a decision to extend the work of its shifts at the main production site in Buryatia for one more month in order to protect the employees from possible infection. The usual duration of the shift at the Khiagda is one month. Each shift has 172 people. The current shift will continue to work until May 16, 2020. All days of the extended shift will be paid. The decision on changing the shifts in May will be taken by the management based on the current epidemiological situation. By April 23, 163 cases of infection were detected in Buryatia, including 2 deaths.
                                                • Over 8.5 thousand employees of VNIITF, Zababakhin All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Technical Physics, returned to work.
                                                • 16 thousand employees of Sevmash continue to work for the state defense orders.
                                                • On April 27, Nerpa Shipyard resumed all operations.

                                                Contribution of Nuclear Industry to the Fight against Pandemic
                                                • VNIITF allocated over one million rubles for maintenance and repair of lung ventilators.
                                                • Rosatom continue the sterilization of medical equipment. On April 23, over 3.5 million protective masks were sterilized, as well as 75,000 medical kits for COVID-19 testing. Sterilization is carried out by Sterion company, subsidiary of Rusatom Healthcare.
                                                • Scientists from the Sarov Physics and Technology Institute, a branch of MEPhI, and the Russian Federal Nuclear Center developed a device for producing the nitrogen oxide. The device was successfully tested in the treatment of patients with COVID-19. The nitrogen oxide improves the blood microcirculation and prevents thrombosis in the lungs, and heated helium kills the viruses.

                                                            UKRAINE CONTINUES FIGHTING THE WILDFIRES NEAR CHERNOBYL

                                                            Ukraine continues fighting fires after the wildfire broke out in a forested area near the Chernobyl NPP on April 4, 2020. The fires gained strength over the weekend due to strong winds. On April 14, the Ukrainian Emergency Service reported that the fire was localized and planned to extinguish it completely within a few days. However, a strong wind contributed to the spread of the fire again.

                                                            Police arrested a 27-year-old local man who confessed that he had burned some grass and garbage for fun. In the Post-Soviet countries burning of the grass in spring is a popular method of soil preservation at farms, while at forests it's typical hooliganism.

                                                            On April 13, the Chernobyl tour guide, Yaroslav Yemelianenko, reported that the fire had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat and was just 2km away from the NPP and the Pidlisny radioactive waste disposal site. "The situation is critical. The zone is burning," he wrote a Facebook post accompanied by a video of the blaze. Yemelianenko, a member of a public advisory board to Ukraine's emergency service, also accused the government of covering up the severity of the fires.

                                                            However, the authorities assure there is no threat to the NPP or other key facilities inside the Exclusion zone, and suggested that such claims were 'fakes'. Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko, also assured that there was no change in the radiation level at the Chernobyl NPP, in the Chernobyl Exclusion zone or beyond. According to him, spent fuel storage facility N2 in the Exclusion zone is a huge, reinforced concrete structure surrounded by a fence. There are some empty tanks inside made of monolithic reinforced concrete.

                                                            "Spent fuel storage facility N1, where spent fuel is stored from the Chernobyl NPP decommissioned in 2000, is located in the area of the NPP itself. It is completely safe there. Any fires are excluded", Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook.

                                                            According to him, the Pidlisne storage facility used for spent nuclear waste is also located in a place relatively safe from forest fires and represents fireproof reinforced concrete structures. He noted that the forest was intentionally cut down around the storage facility to avoid the threat of fire, and the distance to green spaces is more than 100 meters.

                                                            The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) regularly provided information on April fires through the IAEA's Unified System for Information Exchange in Incidents and Emergencies (USIE), the 24/7 secure website for Member States to exchange information. On April 24, the IAEA reported that increase in levels of radiation measured in the country was very small and posed no risk to human health.

                                                            As of May 2, Ukrainian rescuers continued to extinguish smoulderingin the Exclusion Zone. Currently, no open flame is observed. According to authorities, the fires didn't cause any damage to the nuclear sites.

                                                            1. Yaroslav Yemelianenko Facebook post on April 13, 2020
                                                            2. Anton Gerashchenko Facebook post on April 13, 2020
                                                            3. "Chernobyl guides say worst wildfires in area's history are out of control", April 14, 2020
                                                            4. "IAEA Sees No Radiation-Related Risk from Fires in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone", April 24, 2020
                                                            5. "The fires in Chernobyl is fully localized", May 2, 2020

                                                                UKRAINIAN ENERGOATOM FACES FINANCIAL ISSUES WHICH MAY AFFECT NUCLEAR SECURITY

                                                                Energoatom, the state-owned National Nuclear Energy Generating Company of Ukraine and the main operator of the Ukrainian Nuclear Power plants (NPP), faces major financial issues due to failure to pay for electricity supply by its major subcontractor, the Guaranteed Buyer. Energoatom specialists insist this situation may affect further safe and secure operation of NPPs.

                                                                The state-owned enterprise Guaranteed Buyer, created in the pursuit of the 'green energy' market reform launched in April 2019, was established with the purpose to buy out electricity from those entities for whom a so-called 'green' tariff was established. Energoatom sells almost 85% of produced electricity to the Guaranteed Buyer.

                                                                Since January 2020, the Guaranteed Buyer has financial issues that led to failures to pay to Energoatom for the supplied electricity. This situation significantly worsened the financial condition of Energoatom, as the funds received from Guaranteed Buyer are the main source of financing for the company.

                                                                In February 2020, Energoatom filed a lawsuit to the Commercial Court of Kyiv against the Guaranteed Buyer to recover the main debt and penalties in the amount of about $111 million (3 billion UAH) for the supplied electricity. For February-March 2020, the debt of the Guaranteed Buyer to the Company amounts to more than $185 million (5 billion UAH).

                                                                Energoatom was forced to limit the sale to Guaranteed Buyer of a certain amount of electric energy, and apply its right to charge penalties:

                                                                • On March 29, 2020, Energoatom suspended the supply of electric energy to Guaranteed Buyer during the delivery period March 1-31, 2020, due to violation of the payment deadlines for electricity supplied in March.
                                                                • Additionally, from April 1, 2020, Energoatom limited the supply of electric energy to Guaranteed Buyer in the supply period April 1-30, 2020 by 40% of the planned volume of electricity supply in each delivery period.
                                                                Energoatom emphasizes that restricting the sale does not threaten the fulfillment by Guaranteed Buyer of its obligations to ensure the availability of electric energy to the public.

                                                                Energoatom repeatedly drew the attention of the National Commission for State Energy and Public Utilities Regulation and the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection to the critical situation in the electricity market and warned of the possibility that Guaranteed Buyer would not be able to properly fulfill the terms of the contract of sale electrical energy concluded with Energoatom.

                                                                The lack of funds threatens the implementation of programs by Energoatom to improve nuclear safety and security of NPPs. Lack of funding has an extremely negative impact on the implementation of the production program, the purchase of fresh nuclear fuel, the timely payment of wages, etc.

                                                                On April 9, the Community of Veterans of Nuclear Energy and Industry of Ukraine signed an open letter to the President and the Government of Ukraine, asking for urgent measures to overcome the crisis in the state nuclear energy industry. "The controlled disorganization of the so-called energy market has led to non-payments for the generated electricity. Energoatom is experiencing a shortage of funds necessary for the safe and secure operation and purchase of nuclear fuel," says the letter.

                                                                Apart from the financial issue, the open letter points at the serious management issue. For a considerable amount of time, Energoatom does not have the permanent managers who would have appropriate permits from the nuclear regulatory authority. Thus, no one is in response for safety and security of the company.

                                                                On April 30, the Parliament of Ukraine passed the first reading of the draft legislation aimed to partly resolve the issues of debt to the electricity supplier, Energoatom. This measure, as Ukrainian Government hopes, will ensure the financial stability of Energoatom.

                                                                1. "Energoatom limited supply of electricity to Guaranteed Buyer", March 30, 2020
                                                                2. "Energoatom Filed a Lawsuit Against Guaranteed Buyer to Recover 3 Billion UAH", March 26, 2020
                                                                3. "Energoatom: critical situation in the energy market requires immediate and decisive actions", April 2, 2020
                                                                4. "An open letter from the veterans of nuclear industry: Ukraine slides to new Chernobyl", April 9, 2020
                                                                5. Summary for March 2020 of European – Ukrainian Energy Agency, March 31, 2020
                                                                6. "Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine took an important step to pay off the debt at the wholesale electric energy market to the Energoatom", April 30, 2020

                                                                      LEPSE DECOMMISSIONING PROJECT IS IMPLEMENTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PLAN

                                                                      Nerpa shipyard in Snezhnogorsk, Murmansk Region, keeps working on decommissioning of the floating technical base Lepse even in the pandemic period.

                                                                      Lepse was used to refuel the Soviet nuclear icebreaker fleet from 1963 to 1981 and since then it was used for the storage of the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. Taken out of service in 1988, it has been holding 639 used fuel assemblies. The Lepse decommissioning is conducted within the framework of cooperation between EU and Russia.

                                                                      On April 15, the Nerpa's press service reported on successful removal of the third batch of spent fuel assembles. On April 17, Nerpa started unloading the fourth out of six batch of spent fuel assembles. From the Nerpa shipyard, the batches are loaded aboard the Serebyanka service ship and sent to Atomflot. From there they are transported by rail for reprocessing to the Mayak nuclear facility. The first two batches of spent fuel unloaded in 2019 are already being processed at the Mayak.

                                                                      According to Nerpa officials, the suspending of work for a week, from March 30 to April 5, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, did not slow down the process. "The work is progressing at an excellent pace," reported Alexander Malyshkin, the project manager for Lespe decommissioning project. "The coordination between Atomflot and Nerpa has been excellent. There is no doubt that 620 spent fuel assemblies will be cut out and unloaded by the end of this year."

                                                                      That leaves 19 spent fuel assemblies aboard, which cannot be removed by conventional means . These assemblies were damaged when the Lepse refueled the Lenin nuclear icebreaker, first in 1965 and then again in 1967. A coolant leak in the Lenin's reactors deformed the assemblies, and now their casings within the Lepse's storage holds are swollen and malformed. The removal of these assemblies is planned for 2021.

                                                                      1. "The Arctic should be clean", April 15, 2020
                                                                      2. "Nerpa started removing the fourth batch with spent fuel assemblies from Lepse", April 17, 2020
                                                                      3. "Russia's most radioactive ship reaches dismantlement milestone", April 29, 2020

                                                                              ATOMSPETSTRANS UPGRADES ITS INFRASTRUCTURE FOR NUCLEAR MATERIAL TRANSPORTATION

                                                                              For the past 20 years, Atomspetstrans is authorized Rosatom cargo operator specializing in transportation of nuclear materials. In the interview to Rosatom newspaper Atomvestnik, Director and CEO of Atomspetstrans, Vladimir Nashchokin, told about the enterprise, its problems and prospects. The Russian Nuclear Security Update translated the most interesting parts from this interview.

                                                                              - The need for special transportation and exchange of special cargo emerged more than 20 years ago. Isn't it?

                                                                              - Actually yes, this type of activity occurred simultaneously with the industry itself. When 75 years ago the nuclear project was implemented in Siberia, in the Urals, in the Central region, when the industrial enterprises were established, one of the tasks was the exchange of goods between them. Thus, the transportation of nuclear materials appeared almost simultaneously with the birth of the industry.

                                                                              Initially, Minatom (Ministry for Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation) dealt with transportation issues itself. That is why the predecessor of the current Joint-Stock Company Atomspetstrans was State Enterprise Atomspetstrans. This enterprise performed the functions of an authorized industry operator for organizing and conducting the transportation of nuclear materials, radioactive substances and goods made out of them by various transport vehicles both in the country and abroad. The todays' Atomspetstrans was established on March 29, 2000.

                                                                              - Many people think that the transportation of nuclear materials is the same as transportation of dangerous goods. This is true?

                                                                              - No, it's not. Transportation of nuclear materials is a special type of transportation specified in federal laws, designed to meet the most important state and defense needs. We are talking about the so-called special transportation, regulated by separate documents at both federal and agency levels. Atomspetstrans is the only organization entrusted with this activity on behalf of the state corporation Rosatom.

                                                                              - What are specifics of special cargo transportation?

                                                                              - The specific of such transportation is primarily related to safety and security. Nuclear material requires special kind of treatment in terms of physical protection, anti-terrorist protection and radiation safety. There is a whole range of requirements, according to which these materials are classified as special and require special conditions for transporting them. Such cargo is transported covertly. For this purpose, a well-thought-out security system has been created. The special armored vehicles are used, both railway and automobile, equipped with special monitoring systems, tamper sensors and other physical protection equipment.

                                                                              - How successful has your company been operating for two decades?

                                                                              We have come a long way for the past 20 years. When in 2000 our company assumed the transportation management functions, it was relatively small with about 100 employees. They mainly performed the requests submission to the Russian Railways (a state-owned railway company, both managing infrastructure and operating freight and passenger train services) and the financial calculations for organizing the transportation of most of the special cargo by rail. The remaining transportation, including by road, was conducted by [nuclear] enterprises independently. But with the establishment of Rosatom State Corporation, the goal was to optimize all internal processes, as well as to separate non-core activities of Rosatom enterprises. For most of them, transportation was non-core activity.

                                                                              In the 90s, due to the crisis in country, the special transportation activity was decentralized. There were private organizations which tried to get engaged in special cargo transportation with little responsibility. Now Atomspetstrans is the only Rosatom organization authorized to manage such transportation. However, the centralization process still continues.

                                                                              Since 2013, we have been carrying the transportation reform, during which the departments previously responsible for special cargo transportation at the enterprises are transferred under our management. This includes both, vehicles and infrastructure. The newly created branches of Atomspetstrans are staffed mainly by specialists qualified in the field of special transportation, who previously worked in the respective departments of enterprises. In 2000 we started with 100 employees, now we have more than 2.5 thousand in six branches in Siberia, the Urals and Central Russia. We also have seven remote structural divisions. Today, Atomspetstrans is a major enterprise authorized for transporting nuclear materials, radioactive substances and other special cargoes of Rosatom.

                                                                              Now our task is to optimize the company's structure in terms of financial activity, transport logistics and security. Rosatom is working on new target program for further development of special cargo transportation, in implementation of which Atomspetstrans will be the main body. The program is designed for the years 2021–2025 and beyond and intended to optimize working processes, upgrade vehicles and facilities and implement new technical solutions for special transportation.

                                                                              We inherited fairly old equipment and vehicles. We got used to transportation by railway cars and road vehicles, to reload materials from one vehicle to another. But, with development of new technologies, the transportation procedures have become more universal. For example, the special transportation containers available today allow transporting them on a railway platform, on a ship or an airplane. But this requires changes in the relevant regulatory documents governing specifics of such transportation.

                                                                              Another issue that could be solved with the new target program is the shortfall of the railway cars. The regulatory documents establish the limited service life (usually 28 years) for cars, which cannot not be extended. So, we have a lot of vehicles idle for this reason. Currently, together with Russian Space Agency, the Ministry of Defense of Russia, and other agencies, we are working on certain amendments to regulatory documents for our vehicles, which would allow extending their service life due to limited wear. Otherwise, we may get to the point when there would not be enough vehicles for the industry needs.

                                                                              - Why is there a shortage of cars, why can't you buy new ones?

                                                                              - Today, only one manufacturing plant left, the Tver Carriage Works, who build railroad cars for special cargo transportation. Producing small series is unprofitable for the plant, while the production of one railroad car is very expensive, around 100 million Rubles per unit. The target program will offer options that will allow changing the transportation system to make it cheaper and, if possible, to get away from buying such expensive traditional railroad cars. We hope that with new technologies and solutions we will solve this issue. I think within two-three years we would cope with this task and eliminate the deficit.

                                                                              - What are the plans and prospects for the development of the enterprise?

                                                                              - Another direction for further development for Atomspetstrans is organization of work with foreign partners. The international shipment is complex process, which requires corresponding regulatory support, as well as physical protection. Now this issue is on the agenda of Rosatom. There is a proposal to divide this process at the countries' borders, although it is not entirely clear how this can be done. I hope we will find the right solution.

                                                                              "The blood vessel system of Rosatom", February 18, 2020

                                                                                        MEPHI CREATED NEW PRECISE AND COMPACT EXPLOSIVE DETECTOR

                                                                                        Scientists of Moscow Physical Engineering Institute (MEPhI) developed new type of explosives detector. The device is very sensitive, compact and relatively inexpensive, however the prototype cannot operate in the continuous mode. Currently, scientists are working on its improvement.

                                                                                        According to the scientists, today, there are two key types of detectors of explosives and other dangerous compounds. The first one is expensive, bulky and universal. It determines if there are any traces of explosives in the air by sorting various ions by mass. Such installations, due to their size and cost, are almost impossible to use in the crowded places.

                                                                                        The second type of explosives detectors is compact and cheap. Air is passed through such devices, the system determines the volatile traces of explosives by how the nature of the glow of certain fluorescent compounds changes. These detectors are significantly less sensitive than the first ones, and less stable.

                                                                                        The detector prototype developed by MEPhI scientists has sensitivity close to the ion spectrometer type of detector. At the same time, it is much more compact. In the future, this device should fit in a box measuring 30 x 30 x 30 centimeters.

                                                                                        The prototype uses a conductor, insulator and semiconductor, similar in structure to a capacitor, for detecting traces of explosives in the air. As scientists explain, if traces of explosives fall into its metal part, then its electric capacity noticeably changes.

                                                                                        However, it takes about three to four minutes for new detector to clean up from the explosive traces. "Our detector still requires some improvements. We can quickly determine the concentration of the substance, but then, for the next sampling, it has to recharge. Since such devices have to comply within the security services requirements [RNSU note - for physical protection equipment], it should take about 3-4 seconds for recharging", - said Nikolay Samotaev, associate professor at MEPhI.

                                                                                        Because of this, new detector doesn't allow to monitor the situation continuously and to detect the appearance of new explosives substances instantly. As scientists hope, in the near future they will be able to solve this problem.

                                                                                        "New precise and compact explosive detector is created at MEPhI", April 22, 2020

                                                                                                  OVERVIEW OF RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SECURITY PROCUREMENTS

                                                                                                  According to Russian legislation, Rosatom and its subsidiary organizations must publish information related to procurements using federal budget funding as well as their own money. This information is published at a dedicated web-site - http://zakupki.rosatom.ru/. Typically, around three hundred procurements, including procurements related to MPC&A (material protection, control and accounting) are published daily. However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, Rosatom had to suspend the work partially at its entities for days and weeks in April. Thus, only 114 procurements related to nuclear security were announced in April 2020.

                                                                                                  This article reviews the most interesting procurements and related trends.

                                                                                                  Physical Protection of NPPs
                                                                                                  Rosenergoatom publishes procurements for onsite protection services, supplies, and maintenance of PP equipment daily. The following are procurements of interest:
                                                                                                  • Multiple procurements of Leningrad NPP for maintenance of PP equipment for total over 55.3 million Rubles (over USD $733,300)
                                                                                                  • Equipping the vehicle control point of Kola NPP with PP inspection system for railway vehicles for 22.4 million Rubles (USD $296,900)
                                                                                                  • Supplying PP equipment for Balakovo NPP for 9.3 million Rubles (USD $123,300) and Kursk NPP for 9 million Rubles (USD $119,300)
                                                                                                  • Supplying seals of various types for Novovoronezh NPP for 456,200 Rubles (USD $6,050) and Beloyarsk NPP for 358,900 Rubles(USD $4,800)

                                                                                                  Physical Protection of Rosatom Nuclear Sites

                                                                                                  Apart from NPPs, other Rosatom enterprises purchase services for ensuring physical protection as well. Many of these sites hold substantial quantities of nuclear materials in forms suitable for making nuclear explosive devices, which makes these sites attractive for theft. Some purchase examples:
                                                                                                  • Upgrading the PPS for IPPE, Leypunsky Institute of Physics and Power Engineering, for 64.2 million Rubles (USD $850,900)
                                                                                                  • Supplying and adapting the digital radio communication system for PP purposes for NITI, the A.P. Alexandrov Technology Research Institute, for 48.2 million Rubles (USD $639,000)
                                                                                                  • Multiple procurement for supplying the explosive detectors, including for Scientific Technological Center of Nuclear Physics Research (YAFI) for 26 million Rubles (USD $344,600) and Ural Electrochemical Integrated Plant for 92.3 million Rubles (USD $1.2 million)
                                                                                                  • Supplying the video surveillance equipment for Siberian Chemical Combine for 25.2 million Rubles (USD $334,000)
                                                                                                  • Multiple procurement for supplying various PP equipment, including for Ural Electrochemical Integrated Plant for 16.8 million Rubles (USD $222,700), VNIIEF, Russian Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, for 11.8 million Rubles (USD $156,400), Mining and Chemical Combine for 9.2 million Rubles (USD $122,000)
                                                                                                  • Maintenance of the power supply system for PPS of Mining and Chemical Combine for 4.5 million Rubles (USD $59,600)

                                                                                                  Other Procurements
                                                                                                  • Supplying spectrometer for Mining and Chemical Combine for 22.4 million Rubles (USD $297,000 million)
                                                                                                  • Upgrading the information protection system for PPS of Leypunsky Institute of Physics and Power Engineering for RUB 40 million (USD $530,100)
                                                                                                  • Certification of Automated Transportation Security System (ATSS) of the vehicles and the central control unit of Atomspetstrans for compliance with the information protection requirements for 24.2 million Rubles (USD $320,700). Atomspetstrans is a Rosatom organization specialized in transportation of nuclear materials. The ATSS project was developed by Rosatom with the U.S. support.
                                                                                                  • Upgrading the spent nuclear fuel transporter cars of Mining and Chemical Combine in order to extend their life service for 97.6 million Rubles (USD $1.3 million)

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