Safety Standards of the Nuclear Safety Standards Commission

The Nuclear Safety Standards Commission (Kerntechnischer Ausschuss - KTA) was set up at the BMU. It comprises representatives of the following five groups: manufacturers, operators, authorities of the Federal Government and the Laender, experts and representatives of public interests (for example trade unions, industrial safety and liability insurers).

The office of the Nuclear Safety Standards Commission is affiliated to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

In accordance with its statutes, the KTA specifies detailed safety standards on the basis of experience gained whenever a uniform position emerges among the experts of the manufacturers, constructors and operators of nuclear installations, experts and authorities. The safety standards are elaborated in sub-committees and working parties of experts and then adopted by the KTA. The five groups are equally powerful with each being represented through seven votes out of the total of 35 votes.

A safety standard is only adopted if five-sixths of the members agree to it. This means that no group that votes unanimously can be outvoted.

The safety standards of the KTA pertain to

  • organisational issues,
  • occupational health and safety (specific additional requirements in the field of nuclear technology),
  • civil engineering,
  • nuclear and thermal-hydraulic design,
  • issues regarding materials,
  • instrumentation and control,
  • monitoring of radioactivity and other provisions.

Quality assurance and quality management play a major role; these aspects are addressed in most of the safety standards. The term quality assurance, as used in the KTA safety standards, also comprises the area of ageing management which, today, is internationally treated as a separate issue. Furthermore, there are specific KTA standards for management systems and for ageing management.

Historically, the KTA safety standards have been developed on the basis of existing German conventional technical standards and regulations and on American nuclear safety standards in particular. The ASME Code (Section III) was used as a model for specifying the requirements regarding the design and construction of components.

Due to the fact that the texts for the adopted safety standards undergo regular review (and where necessary revision) at least every five years, the standards are adapted to the current state of the art of science and technology.

The new "Safety Requirements for Nuclear Power Plants" of 22 November 2012 may require further revisions of the KTA safety standards if the higher level requirements contained therein require further specification. Although the KTA safety standards are not legally binding, their development process and level of detail mean they have an extensive effect in practice. Due to its high quality, the KTA safety standards are internationally renowned and are applied or considered by analogy in many countries.

Currently, the KTA safety standards comprise 106 safety standard projects, including 93 KTA safety standards that have already been issued and three draft safety standards. Ten draft safety standards are in preparation. Details are available on the KTA website.

Conventional technical standards

Furthermore, conventional technical standards and regulations, in particular the national standards of the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN) and also the international standards of ISO and IEC, are applied just as they are in the design and operation of all technical installations, in so far as the conventional standards correspond to the state of the art of science and technology for nuclear power plants and nuclear installations.