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CNS: Review Meeting Identifies Ideas to Improve Nuclear Safety

The Seventh Review Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety was held from 27 March to 7 April 2017 at the IAEA Headquarters, in Vienna, Austria. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Contracting Parties highlighted the importance of sustaining and enhancing a nuclear safety culture, maintaining effective legal frameworks, and enforcing safety precautions within the supply chain following a two-week review of nuclear power plant safety.

Following intensive discussions and reflections on the national reports of nuclear safety programmes from 79 countries, delegates at the Seventh Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), identified and offered ideas to ensure achievement of high levels of safety. These included ideas to address financial and human resource constraints, safety concerns related to ageing nuclear facilities, and the need for harmonized cross-border emergency planning approaches.  

In their Summary Report released at the close of the 27 March – 7 April meeting, Contracting Parties also encouraged the IAEA to continue developing guidance to help countries strengthen regulatory body oversight and practice safety culture.

"Maintaining nuclear safety requires long-term commitment and vigilance from countries, as well as effective mechanisms for early detection and assessment of problems and networks for sharing lessons learned," said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.

Referring to the need to maintain oversight of the supply chain to ensure safety, he said.

“This is a common issue both for countries operating nuclear power plants and those considering nuclear power programmes, because of the lack of availability of identical replacement parts and the need to be able to detect non-conforming, counterfeit, suspect or fraudulent items. Furthermore, with the number of nuclear-grade certified suppliers diminishing, access to manufacturers able to meet nuclear standards will become more challenging.” 

Contracting Parties acknowledged the value of the CNS review meetings and other voluntary international peer review processes in encouraging continuous self-assessment and improvement.

“These processes effectively unearth the wealth of experience that countries have on nuclear safety issues, and this is helpful for both countries operating nuclear power plants and those just embarking on nuclear programmes,” said Ramzi Jammal, President of the Review Meeting and Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission “It is important for the IAEA and other organisations to cooperate to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of these reviews.”

Obligations under the CNS

The Convention entered into force on 24 October 1996, setting international benchmarks in the areas of nuclear installation siting, design, construction and operation, as well as financial and human resources, safety assessment and verification, quality assurance and emergency preparedness. It requires Contracting Parties to report on their implementation of obligations under the Convention and subject these reports to peer review by other Parties.

In its first decade, CNS Review Meetings focused heavily on specific technical safety issues. In recent years, the focus has shifted to continuous improvement of nuclear safety.

The CNS Contracting Parties hold Review Meetings every three years. The 8th Review Meeting will take place in 2020.