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IAEA Peer Review and Advisory Missions Help Member States’ Enhance Nuclear Safety and Security


Establishing, improving and strengthening national frameworks in nuclear safety and security were among the key issues discussed at the first virtual meeting on the peer reviews and advisory services held last month.  

Sixty-six delegates from 40 countries and the European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group (ENSREG) attended the meeting to review  IAEA nuclear safety and security peer review and advisory services and discuss the best methods for assessing and monitoring their effectiveness.

The IAEA supports its Member States in strengthening nuclear safety and security through the services it offers, which includes 17 different  peer reviews and advisory services.

“Nuclear safety and security are national responsibilities, and the IAEA helps its Member States to fulfil these by developing Safety Standards and Nuclear Security Guidance, and helping countries to implement these,” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security in his opening remarks. “So far, globally, we have provided more than 1200 review and advisory services and significant efforts are being made to further enhance these services. I would like to recognise here the great contribution of the Member States´ experts and peers in these missions.”

The virtual meeting was preceded by comprehensive video presentations made available on an IAEA dedicated web space, including a chat forum and sufficient space for commenting and raising questions, which were addressed by IAEA service owners.

During the active interactions on the IAEA services, countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and Sri Lanka shared their specific experiences on benefits and improvements needed to enhance the support being provided as well as challenges faced, such as the complexity of the self-assessment of the peer reviews and the coordination of multiple national agencies that play a role in the regulatory framework.

Support provided: snapshot of assessment

The peer reviews and advisory services offered by the IAEA aim to help countries in their application of IAEA safety standards and security guidance, which serve as the global reference for  achieving and maintaining a high level of nuclear safety and security in all applications of nuclear and radiation technologies, such as  energy generation, medicine, agriculture, industry and research. 

A team of independent experts review a relevant area of nuclear safety or security to assess its alignment with the IAEA safety standards or security guidance. Having views of external experts helps to identify potential improvements in the application of the relevant standards or guidance. It is also an exercise of mutual learning in understanding national approaches and measures in applying and observing the IAEA  safety standards and security guidance.  

Noting some of the complexities of hosting an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), Ryan Hemsley, Director at the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), said: “This mission provided great momentum and the catalyst to work on a uniformed regulatory framework, which has been decades in the making. It was a successful mission from our point of view, well managed and with an excellent team from all sides. However, we did face challenges with Australia being multijurisdictional, and several separate questionnaires and interviews were conducted to capture the radiation protection framework and regulatory set up, but this mission was a very welcome opportunity our country.”

Commenting on streamlined services, such as the first joint IRRS-ARTEMIS (Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation) mission in 2018 in which two separate peer reviews were combined into one mission to provide an independent evaluation, Javier Dies, Commissioner of the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council (CSN), said: “This has contributed to strengthening the regulatory framework in nuclear safety and radiation protection, as well as to improving the policy, strategy and management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in the country. Cross-teams were created throughout various stakeholders for the first time and it has increased the credibility of the nuclear regulatory system and the management of radioactive waste in the eyes of society.” 

During his presentation on a harmonized national regulation framework, Prasad Mahakumara, Director of the Radiation Protection and Technical Services Division in the Sri Lanka’s Atomic Energy Board (AEB), noted that: “Sri Lanka requested the IAEA to conduct an Occupational Radiation Protection Appraisal Service (ORPAS) in 2019 to identify and improve the shortcomings of the existing occupational exposure program, to improve its effectiveness as given in the IAEA’s Radiation Protection and Safety of Radiation Sources: International Basic Safety Standards and to receive an international insight of the radiation protection regime.”

Presenting the Czech Republic’s experience in hosting a successful combined Technical Safety Review (TSR) and Periodic Safety Review (PSR) mission at the Temelín Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in 2017,  Jaromír Macháček, a PSR senior expert at the  Temelín NPP  highlighted: “The scope of the review was tailored to our needs, and all matters were discussed openly and transparently during the expert meetings. We have experienced excellent cooperation with IAEA staff and the highly professional expert team.”  Several IAEA peer review and advisory services including Operational Safety (OSART), Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO), IRRS and the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) have on request been previously conducted in the Czech Republic. 

The Peer Review and Advisory Services Committee (PRASC) was established in 2016, with the objective of monitoring, assessing and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of all nuclear safety and security peer review and advisory services to IAEA Member States.

The meeting was held virtually on 29-30 June 2020.

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