International Conference on Topical Isues in Nuclear Safety

Vienna, Austria
3 - 6 September 2001


[View the Programme, Timetable, Poster Session and Poster Guidelines]

      Topical Issue Papers
    Risk informed decision making (247k)
    Influence of external factors on safety (57k)
    Safety of fuel cycle facilities (102k)
    Safety of research reactors (84k)
    Safety performance indicators (91k)

    Links to Presentations
    and Summaries

    In 1991, the IAEA organized an international conference on ’The Safety of Nuclear Power: Strategy for the Future’. Recommendations from the 1991 conference prompted actions in subsequent years to advance nuclear safety worldwide. One of those actions was the establishment of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, which entered into force in October 1996. The first review meeting of the Convention’s Contracting Parties was held in April 1999. The meeting identified a number of external factors and circumstances which could have a significant impact on nuclear safety if they were not counteracted. These included: (a) deregulation of electricity markets; (b) maintaining competence in industry, regulators and research institutions; and (c) lack of economic resources in some countries.

    In 1998, the Agency held an ’International Conference on Topical Issues in Nuclear, Radiation and Radioactive Waste Safety’. The nuclear safety issues discussed during the conference were: (1) safety management; (2) regulatory strategies; and (3) backfitting, upgrading and modernization of nuclear power plants. Senior nuclear safety decision makers at the technical policy level reviewed these issues and formulated recommendations for future actions by national and/or international organizations. On the safety management issue, recommendations were made to monitor safety performance by using indicators. Recommendations on the regulatory strategies issue indicated the need for further work on utilizing PSA and on optimizing the prescriptive nature of regulations, as well as on the future availability of competent professionals.

    Substantial progress has been made, and continues to be made by Member States in enhancing the safety of nuclear power plants. At the same time, more attention is being given to other areas of nuclear safety. The safety standards for research reactors are being updated and new standards are planned on the safety of other facilities in the nuclear fuel cycle. It seems appropriate at this time to analyse current topical issues and determine priorities for future work and areas needing international consensus building.


    The objective of the conference is to foster the exchange of information on topical issues in nuclear installations safety, with the aim of consolidating an international consensus on:

    • the present status of these issues;

    • priorities for future work; and

    • needs for strengthening international co-operation, including recommendations for future activities for the IAEA.


    Five current topical issues have been identified by the Conference Programme Committee as subjects for technical sessions. Each topic encompasses both general ‘policy’ issues and more specific technical issues. The topics and a selection of related issues are listed below.

    Issue papers have been prepared in advance of the Conference to provide an overview of each topic and the related issues. Further information on the issues will be presented in the form of invited keynote papers and contributed papers.

    The Conference will cover the following main topics:

    Topical Issue 1: Risk-informed decision making ( 247k)

    General issues:

    • Risk-informed decision making: pros and cons.

    • The value and limitations of PSA techniques and results in underpinning risk-informed decision making.

    • Consistency between risk-informed decision making, defence-in-depth and good engineering practice.

    • Risk informed decision making: a way to improve regulatory effectiveness?

    • Risk criteria and safety goals to be used in risk-informed decision making: dealing with uncertainties.

    Special issues:

    • Experience with risk-informed decision making.

    • The legal basis for risk-informed decision making.

    • Using risk indicators as the basis for safety classification of structures, systems and components.

    • Quality requirements for a PSA to serve as a basis for risk-informed decision making.

    • PSA expertise at the utility and the regulatory body when using risk-informed decision making.

    • Ownership and updating of PSA by utilities.

    • Need for international standards for PSA to support risk-informed decision making?

    • How to consider organizational factors and safety culture in risk-informed decision making.

    • Concept of ‘risk neutral’ decisions.

    • Treatment of multiple changes in the installation.

    Topical Issue 2: Influence of external factors on safety ( 57k)

    General issues:

    • Pressures arising from economic deregulation and competitive electricity pricing and their possible role in encouraging or discouraging improved nuclear installation safety in the long term.

    • Implications of political decisions on early closure for the safety of nuclear installations.

    • Role of the regulator in not unnecessarily hindering the competitiveness of nuclear installations while ensuring that safety margins are not eroded under these changing circumstances.

    Special issues:

    • Experience of utilities and regulators who have been through or who are embarking upon these changes; lessons learned in how to achieve a positive safety outcome while avoiding the obvious pitfalls.

    • Downsizing utilities and/or regulatory bodies while maintaining safety margins.

    • Effect of executive reward systems on safety.

    • The image of the nuclear industry among the business community and during the economic transition of the electrical supply industry.

    Topical Issue 3: Safety of fuel cycle facilities ( 102k)

    [Note: this topic excludes nuclear power plants, research reactors, uranium mining, waste management and disposal facilities]

    General issues:

    • Lack of international safety standards.

    • Extensive reliance on operator and administrative controls to achieve safety.

    • Chemical and toxic risks associated with the nuclear risk.

    • The variety and diversity of technologies and processes used;

    Special issues:

    • The disposition of radioactive materials within the facility.

    • The operator’s ‘hands on’ involvement in operations and the frequent changes in operating modes.

    • Dominant risk to the facility operator: setting of criteria.

    • Consideration of criticality accidents.

    • Emergency preparedness.

    Topical Issue 4: Safety of research reactors ( 84k)

    General issues:

    • Ageing of equipment and structures in operating research reactors.

    • Uncertain status of many research reactors (more than 200) that are shut down but not decommissioned without clear definition of safety precautions and preservation measures.

    • Lack of regulatory oversight and in many cases lack of a regulatory framework.

    • Insufficient independent peer reviews of safety.

    • Lack of an international convention to cover the safety of research reactors.

    Special issues:

    • Systematic (periodic) reassessment of safety.

    • Obsolescence of equipment and lack of maintenance.

    • Loss of expertise and corporate memory.

    • Lack of quality assurance programmes.

    • Lack of clear utilization programmes and consequent lack of financial support.

    • Financing of safety measures (safety reassessment, safety upgrading, dismantling and decommissioning).

    • Ownership of shutdown reactors.

    • Safety assessment of different modes of utilization, including experiments.

    • Emergency preparedness.

    • Training and qualification of regulators and operators.

    • Safety implications of new fuels.

    Topical Issue 5: Safety performance indicators ( 91k)

    General issues:

    • Characterization of operational safety attributes through safety performance indicators.

    • Comprehensive sets of indicators at plant, national and international level.

    • Assessment of overall safety performance through aggregation of indicators.

    • Safety performance indicators as mechanisms for public communication.

    • Advantages and limitations of safety performance indicators.

    Special issues:

    • Adaptation of generic safety performance indicators to plant specific circumstances.

    • Data collection for safety performance indicators.

    • Experience with selection of indicators, setting targets, monitoring trends and triggering actions.

    • The use of safety performance indicator displays.

    • Indicators to monitor safety culture.

    • Development and use of qualitative safety performance indicators.

    • Use of additional indicators to address issues such as industrial safety attitude and performance, staff welfare and environmental compliance.

    • Indicators of the effectiveness of the nuclear regulatory authorities.

    • Communicating safety outside the nuclear community.


    The Conference is directed at a broad range of experts in the area of nuclear safety, including professionals from the different disciplines involved in the safety of nuclear power plants, installations in other parts of the fuel cycle, and research reactors. It is aimed at both licensees and governmental officials, including persons from regulatory bodies and senior policy makers.

    All persons wishing to participate in the meeting are requested to complete a Participation Form and send it as soon as possible to the competent official authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, national atomic energy authority) for subsequent transmission to the Conference secretariat. A participant will be accepted only if the Participation Form is transmitted through the government of a Member State of the International Atomic Energy Agency or by an organization invited to participate.

    Participants whose designations have been received by the Conference secretariat will be notified directly two to three months before the meeting.


    The Conference programme will be structured as follows:

    • An opening session will address the Conference objectives.

    • Five technical sessions will address the topical issues outlined in Section 3 above, based on:

      • summary presentations of the issue papers prepared in advance of the Conference;

      • summary presentations by rapporteurs of contributed papers; and

      • invited keynote presentations.

      After the discussions in the technical sessions, conclusions and recommendations will be drawn up.

    • Poster sessions will be organized for presentation of contributed papers.

    • Panel discussion on ‘Maintaining Competence'.

    • A concluding session will summarize the main conclusions and recommendations of the Conference.


    Concise papers on issues falling within the scope of the Conference may be submitted as contributions to the Conference. These papers will not be presented orally, but will be summarized and introduced by a rapporteur, as indicated in Section 5. A book of contributed papers will be distributed to all participants upon registration. The poster session will include topical poster presentations by IAEA staff on recent major achievements in the Agency’s nuclear safety programme, including the status of revision of the Safety Standards Series. Comments or questions on the contributed papers can be raised in the appropriate technical sessions. Authors of contributed papers are encouraged to present the substance of the paper in the form of a poster. Instructions for the preparation and submission of contributed papers and posters are given in the Appendix.

    The deadline for the submission of contributed papers is 28 February 2001.


    A preliminary programme, together with detailed information on accommodation and other relevant topics will be sent to all officially designated participants in June 2001. The final programme and the book of contributed papers will be distributed during registration.

    The Proceedings, which will be published by the IAEA after the Conference, will contain the introductory presentations, summary presentations of the issue papers (as well as the issue papers themselves), rapporteurs’ reports of contributed papers, chairpersons’ summary reports for each session, and the results of the concluding session. The Proceedings can be ordered, at a discounted price, during the Conference.


    There is no registration fee for participation in the Conference.


    The Conference will be held from 3 to 6 September 2001 at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The registration desk will be open from 8:00 a.m. on Monday, 3 September 2001 and the opening session will start at 10:00 a.m..

    The working language of the Conference will be English.


    The address of the Conference Secretariat is as follows:

    Conference Secretariat
    c/o International Atomic Energy Agency
    Wagramer Strasse 5
    P.O. Box 100
    A-1400 Vienna
    Austria, Europe

    Telephone No.: (+43) - 1 - 2600(0) plus extension
    Telefax No.: (+43) - 1 - 26007
    Email: [email protected])

    The General Co-ordinator of the Conference is Mr. J.Versteeg, Safety Co-ordination Section, Department of Nuclear Safety (telephone extension: 22551, e-mail: [email protected]). The technical programme co-ordinator is Mr. L. Lederman, Division of Nuclear Installation Safety, Department of Nuclear Safety (telephone extension: 26070, email: [email protected]). Conference organization is provided by Ms.H. Schmid, Conference Services Section, Division of Conference and Document Services (telephone extension: 21316, e-mail: [email protected]). The Editor for the conference proceedings is Mr. G. Ramesh, Publishing Section (telephone extension: 22510, e-mail: [email protected]).


    The Participation Form should be sent to the competent official authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, national atomic energy authority) for transmission to the Conference Secretariat (see item 10 above).

    Subsequent correspondence on technical matters should be addressed to the Conference Co-ordinator and correspondence on administrative matters to the IAEA Conference Service Section.

  12. VISAS

    Designated participants who require a visa to enter Austria should submit the necessary application to the nearest diplomatic or consular representative of Austria as soon as possible. Please note that Austria is a Schengen State and therefore persons who require a visa will have to apply for a "Schengen visa" at least 14 days before entry into Austria. In States where Austria has no diplomatic mission, visas can be obtained from the consular authority of a Schengen Partner State representing Austria in the country in question. [As of September 1999, the Schengen States are: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.]


Guidelines for The Preparation and Presentation of A Poster


    Information on a poster should attract attention. It should therefore be limited to the most important facts only.


    Each poster author will be assigned a poster board with the size 85 cm high and 115 cm wide.

    All display material should be prepared in advance. It should preferably consist of smaller sections which can be mounted on the board in the poster area.

    The top of the poster should display, in lettering not smaller than 3 cm in height, the following information:

    Title of Presentation, Names of Authors, Affiliations

    The text of the poster should be easily readable from a distance of 2 to 2.5 m. Machine typed characters are too small. Use heavy lettering at least 1 cm high.

    The poster should be divided into:

    • Introduction
    • Method
    • Results
    • Conclusions

    or an equivalent division. It is advisable to leave details and explanations for the face-to-face discussions.


    Poster authors are kindly requested to be at their posters for discussion with interested participants during the relevant poster session on Wednesday, 5 September from 14:00 -15:30 as indicated in the meeting programme.

    Text and presentation should be in English.

    PLEASE NOTE that further details on the possibilities for arranging the displays in the POSTER area will be given at the beginning of the meeting.

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