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IAEA Begins Work on Document to Help Regulators Use Graded Approach

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IAEA safety standards recommend that nuclear regulators use a graded approach in their oversight of nuclear installations – that is, they adapt the rigorousness of their oversight to the likelihood that something could go wrong with the regulated facility or activity, and the severity of consequences should that happen.

In recent years, the importance of a systematic application of a graded approach has increased, due to more and more regulators using an oversight approach that is based on an evaluation of the risk involved and past safety performance to enhance effectiveness and efficiency.  Several IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service missions have identified graded approach application as an issue and made recommendations or suggestions related to the topic. 

At a meeting held in September in Vienna, the IAEA kicked off work to create a new IAEA Technical Document to provide guidance on how to apply of graded approach in regulatory decisions related to all nuclear installations. The document will feature both generic methodologies and practical examples that could be adapted by regulatory bodies.

“This will be an essential document supporting the regulation of nuclear installations,” said IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety Division Director Greg Rzentkowski. “By basing the application of the graded approach based on both the level of risk and past safety performance, regulators can optimize regulations and oversight.”

Representatives from the nuclear regulators in Canada, Pakistan and the United States developed an outline of the document during the meeting. This outline will support the writing team as it develops a first draft. The document is expected to be published in 2019.

Meeting Chair Douglas Miller, Lead Technical Advisor at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, noted that though meeting participants had diverse regulatory backgrounds, all agreed on the importance of applying a graded approach.

Mohammed Qayyum, Director General (Technical) at the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, said the document would support his organization’s work.

“We are using graded approach in our framework but the process is not thoroughly documented. This document will provide tools to further graded approach in a systematic way in Pakistan,” he said.

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