An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team, said Estonia’s regulatory body for nuclear and radiation safety is “experienced and dedicated”, but needs to develop and sustain adequate professional expertise to meet future challenges. The team said Estonia has established a legal and regulatory framework for safety which “largely meets” IAEA safety standards, but the main challenge will be to develop and sustain radiation safety expertise. The team said the Ministry of the Environment should consider organising the radiation safety regulatory functions of authorisation, inspection and enforcement in such a way that they are “effectively performed by staff with sufficient expertise in radiation safety”.

The team also called on the Ministry of the Environment to amend the regulatory framework on predisposal management of radioactive waste to establish “explicit provisions” related to the overall responsibilities of the operator. Estonia has no NPPs. However, it uses radioactive sources in medical, industrial and research applications, and maintains an interim storage facility for radioactive waste. The government is in the process of selecting a site for a planned permanent waste disposal facility.

The IRRS team made recommendations for further improving regulatory functions and making them more consistent with IAEA Safety Standards.

The team recommended that authorities develop and implement a human resources plan to ensure the availability and competence of regulatory staff. It also said the government should ensure that diagnostic radiation reference levels and criteria, as well as guidelines for the release of patients, are established.

The 13-member IRRS team comprised experts from Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Sweden as well as three IAEA staff members. The final mission report will be provided to the Ministry of the Environment in about three months. Estonian authorities told the IAEA they plan to make the report’s executive summary public.