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Making Nuclear Power Safer

Initial Progress In Implementing 12-Point Action Plan

Controlroom of nuclear power plant

The Action Plan is a comprehensive program utilizing all nuclear safety tools to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework at the national, regional and international levels. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Developing Action Plan

Following the nuclear accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano dispatched an International Experts Fact-Finding Mission to the site of the accident, and convened a Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in Vienna in June 2011. The Fact-Finding Mission delivered its report to the Ministerial Conference, which also adopted a Ministerial Declaration that requested the Director General to develop a draft Action Plan on Nuclear Safety. In September 2011, the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety was adopted by the IAEA's Board of Governors and subsequently unanimously endorsed by the IAEA General Conference. Developed in intensive consultation with Member States, the Action Plan is informed by advice from the IAEA's International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG).

Work Plan

Immediately following the General Conference's endorsement, the Director General established a dedicated Nuclear Safety Action Team under the Deputy Director General of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security to coordinate and assist all activities for the prompt and full implementation of the Action Plan. "By adopting the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety on 22 September, the IAEA General Conference took a historical step. This is the first time in the life of the Agency that its 151 Member States gather all nuclear safety tools in a comprehensive program to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework at the national, regional and international levels. The implementation of all these tools opens a new period in the quest for a continuous strengthening of nuclear safety worldwide. The IAEA, its 151 Member States, are at the heart of this work," said Deputy Director General Denis Flory.

The Nuclear Safety Action Team is developing the strategy to respond to the 12 major action items that are set out in the Plan. Led by Gustavo Caruso, the Nuclear Safety Action Team ensures coordination among all stakeholders and oversees the Action Plan's prompt implementation. In assessing the Action Plan, the Team categorized the 12 actions into 84 sub-actions, which they further divided into about 200 activities that will be implemented in the short, medium and long term. "A year from now we will be updating this Action Plan based upon the further lessons we will derive from the Fukushima Daiichi accident," Caruso said.

Initial Progress

The IAEA's 151 Member States and Secretariat are now implementing the Nuclear Safety Action Plan to make nuclear power production safer. The Agency's and Member States' work focuses on reviewing, improving and strengthening IAEA peer reviews and emergency preparedness and response; the effectiveness of national regulatory bodies and operating organizations; the IAEA Safety Standards and their implementation; the international legal framework's effectiveness; capacity building; transparency in communication and information dissemination; and nuclear safety research and development. Initial progress in the Action Plan's implementation includes an international expert fact-finding mission to Japan to assess remediation methods of large contaminated areas around TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, whose final report was issued on 15 November 2011. The methodology for assessing the safety vulnerabilities of a nuclear power plant will also be issued in November 2011.

Highlights

Among these activities, several highlights have emerged, such as developing a complementary safety assessment methodology or "stress test", for nuclear power plants as well as improving the IAEA safety peer reviews and encouraging Member States to voluntarily request these peer reviews. The end result of these activities is "to make nuclear safety stronger than before", said Caruso.

Working Together

Comprising an extensive work programme, the Action Plan requires concerted implementation by the IAEA's Secretariat, the Member States and all of the stakeholders responsible for nuclear safety. The IAEA's Senior Strategy Officer, Zef Mazi, said "the Action Plan's implementation will require the Member States' full cooperation and participation, as well as the involvement of many other stakeholders, each of whom must play their part to ensure that the measures agreed in the Action Plan are implemented fully and promptly". Mazi highlighted the IAEA Secretariat's role in promptly providing "the expert technical support and services that the Member States request to achieve the Action Plan's aims of strengthening the global nuclear safety framework."

The report on Initial Progress in the Implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety is available here [pdf].

-- by Peter Kaiser, IAEA Division of Public Information. Staff members of the IAEA's Department of Nuclear Safety and Security contributed to this report.