The IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety concluded five days of deliberations at the organization's headquarters in Vienna on 24 June 2011. The Conference was called to identify lessons learned from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan that was caused by an earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.
Under its President, Ambassador Antonio Guerreiro of Brazil, the Conference included an address by the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and an opening day message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, presented by Mr. Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament. In subsequent plenary sessions, Ministers and heads of delegations delivered national statements.
The Conference adopted a Ministerial Declaration that called for improvements in global nuclear safety. The Ministers asked the Director General to prepare a draft Action Plan to address issues related to nuclear safety, emergency preparedness and response and radiation protection of people and the environment, as well as the international legal framework.
Director General's Action Plan
For his part, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano stated that the five-day Conference "achieved its main goal, which was to pave the way for an enhanced post-Fukushima global nuclear safety framework."
He said he was encouraged by the fact that his proposals for improving global nuclear safety enjoyed widespread support from Member States.
These five proposals were: to strengthen nuclear Safety Standards; to systematically review the safety of all nuclear power plants, including by expanding the IAEA's programme of expert peer reviews; to enhance the effectiveness of national nuclear regulatory bodies and ensure their independence; to strengthen the global emergency preparedness and response system; and to expand the Agency's role in receiving and disseminating information.
The Director General will now prepare a draft Action Plan on the way ahead, taking into consideration the views expressed by Member States. The Action Plan will be submitted to the IAEA Board of Governors and General Conference in September.
Working Group Summaries
The United Kingdom's Chief Inspector for Nuclear Installations, and the Team Leader of the International Fact-Finding Mission, Dr. Mike Weightman, presented the Mission findings. He also chaired the working group session on the preliminary assessment of the accident and actions for safety improvements.
Measures to strengthen emergency preparedness and response were discussed in the working group chaired by Alumanda de la Rosa, Director of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.
The global nuclear safety framework was considered in the working group chaired by Richard Meserve, Chairperson of the International Nuclear Safety Group.
The Chairpersons' summaries of all of the working groups' deliberations can be accessed here.
Conference President Guerreiro said the summaries would prove useful for the Director General in preparing the report on the Ministerial Conference and the draft Action Plan, as requested by the Ministerial Declaration.
In his concluding remarks, the Conference President, Ambassador Antonio Guerreiro of Brazil, noted that a wide range of practical ideas for improving global nuclear safety in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident had been discussed.
Member States encouraged the IAEA to review and strengthen its Safety Standards in all relevant areas. They stressed the importance of systematic safety reviews of all existing nuclear power plants, with particular emphasis on external natural hazards.
The IAEA was encouraged to undertake more regular and systematic peer reviews of the safety of nuclear power plants, national emergency preparedness and response, as well as the nuclear regulatory framework.
There was a call for the IAEA's role in nuclear incidents and emergencies to be broadened to widen the scope of information and assessments shared with Member States, international organizations and the public. Member States noted the need to enhance the worldwide emergency preparedness and response framework, as well as the IAEA's role in that framework. Greater interaction between the major players in the nuclear arena - operators, regulators and vendors - was also considered important.