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IAEA Issues Revised Guidance Document for Countries Introducing Nuclear Power

Milestone Publications

Clearer guidelines for the division of tasks between operators, the regulator and the Government, a more detailed list of activities for the introduction of nuclear power, and a blueprint for coordination mechanisms among players, including during the initial phase of nuclear infrastructure development are among the recommendations in the updated version of the IAEA’s key guidance document for countries considering to introduce nuclear power.

The Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power, released today, updates the Agency’s first document published in 2007 under its Milestones approach, aimed at providing structured guidance and checklists to countries embarking on a nuclear power programme. There are about 30 countries around the world considering, planning or starting such a programme.

Developing a nuclear power programme is a major undertaking of at least 10 to 15 years. The aim of this publication is to help Member States better understand the associated commitments and obligations through thorough explanation. “Even if extensive foreign assistance is acquired, the overall responsibility for a nuclear power programme rests with the country and cannot be subcontracted,” said Marta Ferrari of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section.

Updating the guidelines involved a two-year internal and external review, she said. “We received over 600 comments from Member States and held several meetings to revise the document.”

Some of the changes in the guidelines relate to the initial phase of nuclear infrastructure development, when national authorities prepare documentation to form the basis of a Government decision on whether to introduce nuclear power. This assessment is best done in coordination with the involvement of national utilities and the nuclear regulator, the document explains, via a coordination mechanism.

Safety first 

The Milestones document underlines that the government, the owner/operator and the regulatory body should develop awareness of safety issues and maintain a safety culture throughout the entire nuclear programme, said Mike Weightman, former Executive Head of the Office for Nuclear Regulation in the UK and the Chair of the Technical Meeting in which experts from 30 Member States reviewed the draft updated guidelines.

“The Fukushima Daiichi accident generated further important lessons for both countries operating nuclear power and for the countries developing it,” said Weightman, who was also the leader of the IAEA’s fact finding mission to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the wake of the accident.

Since 2009, the IAEA has conducted 14 full and two follow-up Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions, based on the Milestones Approach, to countries introducing or expanding nuclear power. The practical lessons learned have been incorporated into this revision.

The original Milestones document assumed that countries would award contracts through a competitive bidding process. The updated version also takes into account that several countries use direct negotiations through intergovernmental agreements.

Since 2007, the IAEA has also published more detailed advice on many of the 19 nuclear infrastructure issues that are part of the Milestones. The guidance provided in the revised publication takes these into account as well as other IAEA publications, in particular the Establishing the Safety Infrastructure for a Nuclear Power Programme Safety Guide.

Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power” (IAEA Nuclear Energy Series NG-G-3.1 Rev.1) can be downloaded here or ordered from the IAEA at sales.publications@iaea.org.

Last update: 26 Jul 2017

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