Transforming Experience Into Regulatory Improvements

by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

Ottawa, Canada | International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking the Government of Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for hosting this important Conference.

Last month, we marked the second anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

In the two years since the accident, we have learned many useful lessons. Important steps have been taken to make nuclear power plants safer everywhere. There has been much sharing of information and experience.

I have seen some of the practical work being done at nuclear power plants in India and South Africa in recent months - for example, the installation of backup power systems and emergency water supplies. I know that these efforts are being replicated all over the world.

This Conference addresses an equally important issue for maintaining a high level of nuclear safety: effective regulatory systems. It is the first conference devoted specifically to nuclear regulatory systems since the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

As you know, the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, which our Member States approved in September 2011, calls on countries to conduct regular reviews of their regulatory bodies.

The Action Plan stresses the need for regulatory bodies to be independent, to have adequate human and financial resources, and to have appropriate technical and scientific support.

The IAEA, for its part, was urged to enhance the programme of peer reviews of regulatory effectiveness - known as Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) missions.

And we have been doing so. I encourage all countries with nuclear power plants to voluntarily host IRRS missions on a regular basis, as stipulated by the Action Plan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety took place in December 2012 in Fukushima Prefecture.

In their concluding statement, the Co-Presidents stressed that strengthening nuclear safety is a continuous process and that there should be no complacency in safety matters.

Their call to avoid complacency should be heeded by everyone involved in nuclear power - operators, governments and regulators.

Your Conference in Ottawa is one of a number of important events taking place this year.

In June, the IAEA will hold an International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century in St Petersburg, Russia. It will provide a valuable opportunity to consider nuclear power's long-term contribution to sustainable development.

In July, we will host the International Conference on Nuclear Security: Enhancing Global Efforts in Vienna. It will review the international community's experience and achievements to date in strengthening nuclear security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nuclear regulators have a vital role to play, not just in ensuring the highest safety standards, but also in providing assurance to the public.

Public confidence in nuclear power was greatly shaken by the Fukushima Daiichi accident. It will take time to rebuild that confidence. This will only be possible if everyone involved in nuclear power has a total commitment to safety and if the sector is open and transparent.

The goal of your Conference this week is to propose specific actions in a number of key areas.

These include:

  • Enhancing regulatory measures aimed at preventing the occurrence of nuclear accidents, and minimizing the consequences if one should occur;
  • Addressing lessons learned and challenges in the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel, with a focus on long-term management and disposal;
  • Supporting newcomer countries in establishing and strengthening their regulatory framework;
  • Strengthening international cooperation on emergency management; and
  • Enhancing safety and security culture in the light of human and organizational factors.

I am confident that your work in the next few days will make a very important contribution to ensuring that the necessary lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident are learned.

In doing so, you will help to make nuclear power safer everywhere.

I wish you every success with your meeting.

Thank you.

Last update: 21 October 2014