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Forum for Support Organizations Highlights New Self-assessment Methodology to Help Regulatory Authorities

Participants at the IAEA organised TSO workshop hosted in South Africa. ( Photo: South African National Nuclear Regulator)

Experts from 11 countries reviewed a self-assessment methodology, analysed case studies to evaluate the technical and scientific capacity supporting regulatory functions and discussed the preparation of the 2020 Action Plan at the 15th  Technical and Scientific Support Organizations Forum (TSOF) Steering Committee Meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna last month.

The Technical and Scientific Support Organizations Forum supports networking among technical and scientific support organizations to support nuclear and radiation safety and related scientific and technical issues.

“Strengthening national TSO capacity and strategies are crucial to ensure the effectiveness of nuclear safety and security infrastructure. I strongly believe that the TSO Forum is making significant progress in this direction over the past few years,” Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security said in his opening remarks.

Participants held in-depth discussions on the planned activities for the 2020 Action Plan that includes national workshops to be held in Bangladesh and Belarus to support the countries in their self-assessment exercise to develop, strengthen and further enhance their regulatory technical and scientific capabilities.

Experts discussed challenges related to embarking, existing or expanding nuclear power programmes and the TSO Forum’s role in supporting countries regulatory bodies’ decision-making processes. In this context, they evaluated TSOs’ self-assessment methodology, which covers continuous applying the updates and revisions to the IAEA Safety Standards; its role in enhancing nuclear and radiation safety in applications other than nuclear power; and the latest methods available to support the development of their scientific and technical expertise, including research and development. The TSO initiative on a 'self-check’ methodology is based on the IAEA publication Technical and Scientific Support Organizations Providing Support to Regulatory Functions.

During the meeting, participants learned about the success of the first pilot workshop to test the self-assessment methodology that was applied to the South African regulatory body and its TSO, and the way forward to implement the workshop’s recommendations to improve the self-assessment questionnaire.

Karim Ben Ouaghrem, Deputy Director of International Affairs of IRSN, the French TSO, presented the experts’ evaluation of the South African workshop. The scope of this assessment covered the eight pillars of the self-assessment questionnaire compiled in a tool developed by General Safety Requirements, such as safety assessment, inspection, and research and development.

Presentations were also delivered on collaboration mechanisms with the Regulatory Cooperation Forum, such as establishing a task force and cross-participation in the Steering Committee meetings of these fora. The meeting facilitated exchange of experience and good practices in capacity building and also identified areas in which regulatory bodies require further assistance to strengthen their national regulatory responsibilities.

At the meeting, Michel van Haesendonck from Belgium took over as the Chair of the TSO Forum for a two-year term. Fifteen participants attended this meeting on 17-18 February 2020.

The TSO Forum established in 2010 by the IAEA, is marking the 10th anniversary of its operations this year. 

The TSOF is open to TSOs and expert groups nominated by IAEA Member States. Representatives of the European Commission, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD NEA) and regional TSO networks participate as observers. A TSOF Steering Committee facilitates and oversees the implementation of the forum’s programme.

The Forum’s activities are implemented in close cooperation with the Regulatory Cooperation Forum, regional TSO networks and the OECD NEA’s Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations. The TSOF Steering Committee provides advice on policies and strategies for the forum.

The Steering Committee meets twice a year and is headed by a chairperson, who is appointed by the forum for a two-year period. The Committee’s membership is defined and reviewed in coordination with the IAEA every two years. The IAEA provides support to the activities of TSOF and its Steering Committee.

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