A Safer System for Nuclear Power Operation

Director General Addresses Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivering his statement at the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Director General Yukiya Amano addressed the opening of the five-day Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, laying out his vision for the future of global nuclear safety and the IAEA's role in that future.

He said, "This Conference is crucial for the future of nuclear power. It is imperative that the most stringent safety measures are implemented everywhere."

Mr. Amano highlighted five concrete proposals that could contribute to establishing a realistic and enhanced post-Fukushima nuclear safety framework:

IAEA Safety Standards

"We need to strengthen IAEA Safety Standards and to ensure that they are universally applied. I am therefore asking the IAEA's Commission on Safety Standards to review the relevant standards and to report within 12 months, with recommendations for strengthening them."

"Even the best safety standards are useless unless they are actually implemented. I urge all Member States to make a firm commitment to apply IAEA Safety Standards in practice."

Safety Reviews

"We need to systematically and regularly review the safety of all nuclear power plants. I propose that countries with nuclear power should agree to systematic, periodic peer reviews by the IAEA."

"I therefore propose a system based on random selection. The knowledge that any plant could be subject to review would give operators an additional incentive to implement the highest safety standards."

Nuclear Regulation

"Regulators must be genuinely independent, adequately funded, and staffed by well-trained personnel."

"In the case of Japan, I would like a new regulatory review mission to take place in 2012 as a follow-up to the 2007 mission."

Global Emergency Preparedness

"Mechanisms for responding to and managing a nuclear accident need to be enhanced, both within countries and at the regional and international levels. National accident response teams, which already exist in some countries, should be established in all states with nuclear power programmes.

"The Agency's role as coordinator of the Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan can be strengthened. I believe that all relevant organizations should co-sponsor the Joint Plan."

Receiving and Disseminating Information

"At present, our role in the case of an accident is largely limited to distributing information validated by the country concerned to all other Member States. I suggest therefore that our information-sharing function should be expanded to include providing analysis and possible scenarios on how a crisis might develop and the associated radiological impact. We could either develop our own capacity or make arrangements with collaborating institutes."

Since The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) proved an ineffective communication tool in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, Mr. Amano said, "I am asking the INES Advisory Committee to consider ways in which the scale might be improved."

Funding These Changes

"In order to meet sharply increased requirements for assistance in all areas of nuclear safety, we need to consider new and innovative ways of funding, alongside traditional approaches."

In closing, the Director General called on attending national representatives to "ensure that the Vienna Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety is remembered as heralding a new era in which nuclear technology is as safe as humanly possible."

Background

In the wake of the 11 March 2011 nuclear accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan that was caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety was called to identify the lessons learned from the accident and to strengthen nuclear safety throughout the world.

Last update: 10 September 2014