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IAEA Discusses Emerging Challenges in Nuclear Safety and Regulation

Juan Carlos Lentijo, Deputy Director General and Head of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security (Photo: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

Last week, the IAEA participated at the Regulatory Information Conference (RIC) organized by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Government officials, regulators and nuclear industry leaders from various countries exchanged success stories and ideas on emerging trends and challenges in safety and security of new and operating reactors, decommissioning of nuclear installations and materials licensees.

Through a dedicated lecture delivered by Mr Juan Carlos Lentijo, Deputy Director General and Head of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, the IAEA presented various ways of assistance offered to its Member States through its programme on decommissioning. As one of the most recognized activities, the IAEA develops and maintains a set of internationally approved safety standards establishing safety requirements. These apply also for the decommissioning process and provide guidance on the development of an appropriate regulatory framework.

The Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management was promoted as a legal instrument supporting a consistent approach towards safety on a global scale. With support of 73 parties, the Convention applies to spent fuel and radioactive waste resulting from civilian applications.

The IAEA highlighted the importance of the peer reviews and advisory services of all regulatory and safety aspects of decommissioning to its Member States. Services such as IRRS help to identify areas for improvement and strengthen the effectiveness of the national regulatory infrastructure. And the new ARTEMIS peer-review services focuses on waste management, decommissioning and environmental remediation.

These and other services were also discussed at the bilateral meetings between the IAEA and the NRC representatives. Mr Lentijo thanked the US for their continuous support and encouraged them to participate in the Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) programme focusing on operational safety performance reviews of nuclear power plants. Mr Lentijo met with, Ms Kristine L. Svinicki, Chairman of the US NRC, Mr Stephen G. Burns and Mr Jeff Baran, Commissioners of the US NRC, and Mr Victor McCree, US NRC Executive Director for Operations.