Nuclear Convention Wraps Fortnight of Global Safety Review
Parties Stress Continued Importance of Openness, Transparency
Maurice T. Magugumela (Center), President of the Convention on Nuclear Safety Review Meeting, looks on during deliberations at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)
The Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) today concluded its two-week review and discussion of safety performance of nuclear power plants around the world. Noting "substantial progress" made regarding safety management and safety culture worldwide, members of the 4th Review Meeting discussed a myriad of issues concerning safety.
"The Review Meeting took place at a very opportune time, because there is a great deal of interest in terms of new nuclear power plant development," said Maurice T. Magugumela, President of the 4th Review Meeting and Chief Executive Officer of the National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa. "This includes countries that already have nuclear power plants, but it also includes countries that do not yet have nuclear power plants."
With widespread expansion expected for nuclear power in the coming years, members of the CNS looked at the issue of safety regarding plans for "new build" reactors. The Review Meeting emphasized that the necessary safety infrastructure "must be established well in advance before the construction of a nuclear power plant is authorized," since the development of safety culture is a long process.
The Review Meeting also considered the benefits of joining the Convention for countries intending to start a nuclear power programme, and welcomed them to join the Convention.
"In my native South Africa, we have benefited tremendously from the Convention and the Review meetings," Magugumela said. "By receiving feedback on our nuclear programme in South Africa, the Review Meetings have helped us to improve our own safety. We invite countries that are not part of the Convention on Nuclear Safety to join, so that they may begin to benefit from the review process."
Another issue discussed during the Review Meeting was the separation of State´s regulatory bodies from organizations concerned with the promotion or utilization of nuclear energy. In their summary report, the Review Meeting´s parties noted that the separation between the functions of these two bodies "may not be fully effective," and called for further attention to this matter.
Additional highlights of the Review Meeting´s discussions were:
- Importance placed on technical cooperation and knowledge sharing regarding life extension of existing nuclear power plants;
- Significant challenges reported in maintaining adequate staffing and competence levels for nuclear safety, extending both to operators and regulatory bodies; and
- Recognition of the importance and value of IAEA missions to Member States, highlighted in programmes such as the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) and Operational Safety Review Team (OSART).
Over 500 delegates from 61 contracting parties participated in the Review Meetings, which ran from 14-25 April.
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