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Enhancing Cooperation for Effective Nuclear and Radiation Regulatory Systems: IAEA Conference Begins

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Nuclear and radiation safety and security regulators are attending a week-long conference to discuss how the global regulatory community can ensure nuclear and radiation safety and security. (Photo: E. Beaupre/IAEA)

This week patient and worker protection in radiation medicine and the interface between safety and security, as well as experiences in decommissioning nuclear installations, are at the core of the conversation taking place in The Hague. Over 250 of the world’s nuclear and radiation regulators are discussing these topics and more, at an international conference focused on the role of the global regulatory community in ensuring nuclear and radiation safety and security.

The four-day International Conference on Effective Nuclear and Radiation Regulatory Systems: Working Together to Enhance Cooperation, will cover safety and security aspects of regulating nuclear installations, radiation sources and medical facilities; leadership and management needs for ensuring safety and security; ways of strengthening international cooperation, and cross-cutting regulatory areas such as education and training, and human resource development.

In his opening address, Carl-Magnus Larsson, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and Conference President, highlighted the challenges of ageing facilities and an ageing workforce. He stressed the importance of a holistic approach to safety and security that takes the technical, managerial, organisational and behavioural factors into account in dealing with these challenges.

“We all know when we talk about safety, radiation protection, physical protection, security of assets and information, emergency preparedness and response, or any other aspect of practices that involve radiation, we actually talk about people,” he said at the event opening. “Education, training, recruitment, awareness, leadership and management for safety, and communication, are all essential elements and they all sit with people.”

Speaking at the event, Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, highlighted the importance of cooperation in improving regulatory effectiveness worldwide. He stressed the need for sharing information related to capacity building for regulatory infrastructure, effective knowledge management and a strong culture of safety and security.  “Though the regulation of safety and security are the responsibility of individual Member States, international cooperation helps all do better,” he said. 

The conference, taking place from 4 to 7 November in the Hague, Netherlands, is the fifth in a series of International Conferences on Effective Regulatory Systems, and is organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. The first Conference was held in 2006 in Moscow, followed by Cape Town in 2009, Ottawa in 2013 and Vienna in 2016.

Each event has built upon its predecessor to enhance international cooperation in supporting countries embarking on nuclear power programmes; strengthen regulatory interfaces between nuclear and radiation safety and security, in terms of how each field’s measures and requirements could potentially impact one another, and improve the management of cross-cutting regulatory areas based on past lessons learned.

Other speakers who gave opening addresses at the conference included Maria Betti, Director Nuclear Safety and Security of the European Commission, Jan van den Heuvel, Chairman of the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection of the Netherlands and Hua Liu, Vice Minister of Ministry Ecology and Environment and Administrator of the National Nuclear Safety Administration of China and 2016 Conference President.

The conference will feature a special panel session focusing on emergency preparedness and response in transnational emergencies, as well as public communication in nuclear and radiological emergencies, and the application of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).

IAEA support towards effective regulatory systems

The IAEA supports countries embarking on nuclear power programmes in the development of their regulatory frameworks and strengthening their regulatory infrastructure. The Agency also provides capacity building support for the regulation of Small and Medium sized or Modular Reactors and research reactors, and for strengthening countries’ emergency preparedness and response arrangements.

Through its Safety Standards and Nuclear Security Guidance, the IAEA assists national authorities in the management of radioactive sources from cradle to grave, and in strengthening their nuclear safety and nuclear security infrastructure. The IAEA also offers peer review and advisory services as part of its assistance to help ensure the application of its safety standards and security guidance documents. 

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