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Celebrating 15 Years of Nuclear Safety Harmonization in Europe


Hans Wanner, WENRA Chairman, opens a side event on the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) celebration of 15 years of nuclear safety harmonization in Europe, which was held during the IAEA 58th General Conference. (Photo: A. Mueller/ENSI)

The Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) has over the last 15 years worked to harmonize nuclear safety among its participating Member States in the European region. To mark 15 years since WENRA's inception, a side event was held on the margins of the IAEA 58th General Conference on 24 September 2014 that highlighted the achievements and the future goals of the association.

The IAEA provides Member States with periodic reviews to aid in developing nuclear infrastructures, and many Member States also regularly rely on IAEA Safety Standards when establishing national regulations for using nuclear material and facilities. Regional organizations like WENRA complement the IAEA's work in helping Member States to develop and implement national regulatory frameworks and safety approaches for the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

In his opening presentation at the event, Hans Wanner, Chairman of WENRA and Director General of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate, explained that the association is committed to the continuous improvement of nuclear safety and aims to provide a common and harmonized approach to safety in a range of areas. These include reactors and reactor facilities as well as radioactive waste and spent fuel management.

Mr. Wanner also outlined WENRA's work to provide safety reference levels (SRLs) that are regularly revised as new knowledge and experiences become available. SRLs reflect the standards and practices to be implemented in Member countries, and were recently updated taking into account the lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident, Mr. Wanner informed the delegates.

A panel of experts from various national nuclear regulators in the region also spoke and jointly expressed the usefulness of harmonizing nuclear safety. The panellists recognized the further need for strengthening and enhancing the harmonization of safety measures and practices among nuclear power plants, accounting for the unique safety needs of plants with different designs.

The panellists were Andy Hall, Chief Nuclear Inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation of UK; Lasse Reiman, Director of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland; Fredrik Hassel, Deputy Director General of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority; Antoni Gurgui, Commissioner of the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council; and Dieter Müller-Ecker, Head of the WENRA Technical Secretariat.

For the future, WENRA will continue with activities to improve nuclear safety in Europe. The association will focus on goals such as further improvement of prevention measures related to nuclear power plant accidents, as well as pursuing work related to the EU directives on nuclear safety and waste management.


WENRA was created in 1999 as a result of meetings by heads of several European countries' nuclear authorities throughout the 1990s where they recognized the benefit of a stronger international exchange in harmonizing nuclear safety. WENRA was thus established to further develop a common approach to nuclear safety between its members, as well as provide an independent service for examining nuclear safety in EU applicant countries. Initially comprising the heads of nuclear regulatory bodies from 10 countries, WENRA has since grown to now representing 17 countries, with 9 additional countries serving as observers.

Last update: 04 Sep 2017

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