Safety Inspections of Radiation Sources and Regulated Activities
The FANR radiation safety inspection programme continued throughout 2020. By year-end FANR radiation safety inspectors had carried out 283 inspections across the UAE, which included a mix of announced, unannounced and reactive inspections.
FANR inspectors conducted inspections at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant to evaluate radiation protection programmes including the ‘ALARA’ planning, contamination control, dosimetry, radioactive waste, radiological hazard assessment, radiation monitoring instrumentation and leak detection.
Preparations began for the ConvEx-3 exercise scheduled for October 2021. This included scheduled meetings with the IAEA and participating countries, UAE ministries and the operator of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.
Radioactive Waste in the UAE
FANR developed input for the draft of the UAE Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Management Policy during 2020 and submitted it for management review. The objective of this policy is to achieve and maintain a high level of safety and security in the UAE by establishing a framework to manage spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste within the country. Measures include a comprehensive legal framework, appropriate institutional controls reflecting current international best practices, a clear allocation of responsibilities for the various entities involved in spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management, and a financing mechanism to cover the costs of such activities as well as international cooperation.
FANR prepared the Fourth National Report of the UAE in accordance with the Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (i.e. the Joint Convention) and submitted it to the IAEA for review.
FANR staff continued to participate in IAEA Safety Standards Review Committees such as the Waste Safety Standards Committee, which is intended for peer review of draft safety guides and standards by contracting parties of the Joint Convention. A virtual meeting of the Waste Safety Standards Committee took place in November 2020.
FANR staff participated in the first meeting of the newly-formed Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Information System in July 2020. This system is designed to share information on national spent fuel and radioactive waste management programmes, spent fuel and radioactive waste inventories and other activities related to the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The UAE will participate actively in the Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Information System as a part of its commitment to the Joint Convention.
FANR has established an independent long-term radiological environmental monitoring programme to monitor radiation and radioactive material throughout the UAE; as well as to satisfy statutory requirements on monitoring radiation and advising government entities on matters related to radiation protection aspects of environmental protection, public health, radioactive waste, water use, consumption of food, and land use. The objectives of the programme are:
To survey radiological conditions in the UAE before the operation of a nuclear facility.
To document the level of baseline radiation in the UAE environment.
To determine the source of man-made radionuclides, if found in the environment.
To publish a public report containing a summary of the results of the programme.
FANR continued to monitor the radioactivity levels in the UAE environment in 2020 using the FANR environmental laboratory in Abu Dhabi and various monitoring stations across the UAE. More than 150 samples were collected during the year from different media such as air, soil, water and sediment. In addition to the laboratory analyses, more than 500,000 individual measurements of gamma dose rates were collected from a network of 17 gamma monitoring stations throughout the UAE.
Despite the challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the FANR Environmental Laboratory participated in the IAEA’s Analytical Laboratories for the Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity (ALMERA) 2020 inter-laboratory proficiency testing programme (IAEA-TEL-2020-04). The ALMERA programme has a network of more than 180 laboratories representing 89 countries across the world; and tests the ability of radiochemistry laboratories to analyse radioactive samples and accurately report the results. The FANR Environmental Laboratory succeeded in the international inter-comparison by meeting the acceptance criteria.
The UAE National Effluents Register is currently maintained in the FANR Electronic Document Management System. The registry maintains the records for quantities of radioactive liquid and gaseous effluents and solid waste released from the licensee’s site. The reports include assessments of radiation doses to the representative person arising from radioactive liquid and gaseous releases plus any unplanned and/or unmonitored releases from the site.
Regulations and Regulatory Guides
FANR regulations and regulatory guides take into account the IAEA safety standards as well as other nuclear regulatory best practices and operational experience.
In accordance with the FANR Regulatory Roadmap, endorsed by the FANR Board of Management in July 2017, FANR began developing and revising four regulations and four regulatory guides during 2020.
As per the approved plan, all FANR regulations and regulatory guides are subject to a systematic review and updated every five years. In the review period, 15 regulations were reviewed to determine if any required revision or withdrawal. The following criteria were applied where required:
Experience from FANR licensing, inspection and enforcement activities.
Operating experience within the UAE and from other countries.
IAEA amendments to its standards and/ or guidance documents.
Amendments to other international standards/ guidance documents that support FANR’s regulatory framework.
Research and development findings.
In keeping with the five-year plan, we issued the following regulations and regulatory guides during the year:
FANR-REG-12 v1 Emergency Preparedness for Nuclear Facilities
FANR-REG-23 v1 Security of Radioactive Sources
FANR-REG-29 The Registration and Licensing of Radiation Sources
FANR-RG-10 Identification and Maintenance of Target Sets and Timeline Analysis
FANR-RG-29 Significance Evaluations for Modifications for Nuclear Facilities during Operation
FANR-RG-30 Operational Safety for Nuclear Facilities
FANR-RG-33 Radiation Protection for Nuclear Facilities
Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory (SDDL)
FANR’s Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory, located on the campus of Khalifa University, officially began providing calibration services in 2019 and attained several milestones in 2020.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown, the SSDL continued to provide calibration services while taking precautions to protect the health and safety of colleagues and customers. A total of 601 calibrations were carried out in 2020, almost 20% more than in 2019.
As a member of the IAEA/ World Health Organization SSDL international network, the calibration services in Cesium-137 and X-Ray Narrow Beam Series offered by the FANR Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory were successfully upgraded to ensure compliance with the 2019 version of the ISO 4037:2019 Standard. The enhancement reflects FANR’s commitment to be in line with the most demanding national and international standards. Moreover, after a thorough assessment in October 2020, the Emirates National Accreditation System confirmed the FANR SDDL’s ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accreditation including the ISO 4037:2019 standard.
In September 2020 the SSDL portal was launched. The platform facilitates the relationship between the SSDL and customers with the latter being able to send calibration requests directly through the SDDL portal, follow the status of the request, download the calibration certificates for each device, and provide feedback on the quality of the service received.
These achievements confirm the capacity of the FANR SDDL to supply radiation calibration services to end-users of radiation measurement devices in the medical, nuclear and industrial sectors even under unforeseen and difficult circumstances. They also confirm the national and international recognition for the SDDL’s competence and high quality results.