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IAEA Trains Young Professionals in Nuclear Infrastructure Development

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(Video: A. Silva, M. Klingenboeck/IAEA)

An IAEA Training Course has helped junior and mid-career professionals from 12 Member States to gain a better understanding of what it takes to build the infrastructure for a new nuclear power programme. 

The 17 participants attending this course came from governmental organizations, regulatory bodies, future owner/operators of nuclear power plants and educational institutions in countries considering nuclear power as an option, and countries that are actively preparing for the introduction of nuclear power. The course included lectures by IAEA and external experts, group exercises and country case studies from operating programmes as well as from participants’ country programmes.

“This training event had two primary objectives,” explained Oscar Acuna, Programme Management Officer in the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation. “First, we are supporting Member States in taking a knowledgeable decision before they start a nuclear power programme. And second, for countries that have already made a decision, we provide support in nuclear power capacity building to develop the necessary competencies and organizations.”

First, we want to support Member States in taking a knowledgeable decision before they start a nuclear power programme. And secondly, once the decision is taken, the IAEA supports nuclear power capacity building in Member States to develop the necessary competencies and organizations.”

The comprehensive agenda of the IAEA Training Course on Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development, held from 2 to 11 May 2018 in Vienna, focused on the IAEA Milestones approach, a holistic three-phase process that supports the development of a new nuclear power programme and involves 19 nuclear infrastructure issues, to be addressed in each phase of programme development.

These nuclear infrastructure issues include such topics as establishing a national position which reflects broad political support of a country’s intent to develop a nuclear power programme, setting up legal and regulatory frameworks, preparing measure to ensure nuclear safety and security, developing the necessary human resources, deciding on funding and financing for the nuclear power plant project, and stakeholder involvement, an overarching theme of the training course.

“One of the most important non-technical challenges is to gain adequate public acceptance for nuclear power,” said Dohee Hahn, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Power. “This issue is discussed at national and international levels, including this particular meeting.”

The roles and responsibilities of the three key organizations, i.e. government, regulatory body and owner/operator, which play a fundamental role in ensuring that a new nuclear power programme is implemented in a safe, secure and cost effective way, as well as related IAEA services for nuclear newcomer countries, in particular the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) service, were also discussed in depth. INIR is a holistic peer review to assist Member States in assessing the status of their national infrastructure for the introduction of nuclear power. The review covers the comprehensive infrastructure required for developing a safe, secure and sustainable nuclear power programme.

To learn more about the specifics of an INIR mission was of particular interest to several participants. “I am part of the team preparing an INIR mission to Saudi Arabia in July this year,” said Zaid Al Shareef from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. “The most useful parts for me were the details about the INIR mission, the conditions for each issue and the interaction with IAEA experts and participants who already hosted INIR missions. I have learned many key concepts of nuclear infrastructure development that I did not get just from reading the guidance documents; the experience and interaction with experts were very helpful and useful.”

Pawel Pytlaczyck, from Poland’s Ministry of Energy, added: “The course has helped us to fill gaps, and the exercises have shown us what is expected from a country when preparing for an INIR mission or for the Self-Evaluation Report that precedes a mission.”

“Kazakhstan hosted an INIR mission in 2016,” said Akbota Amanzholkzyz from the country’s Ministry of Energy. “What I’ve learned in this training course will help me to contribute to addressing the recommendations provided by the INIR mission.”

The course agenda also included a visit to the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre, where participants learned about emergency preparations and response considerations in case of a nuclear incident, as well as a technical tour of Austria’s Zwentendorf nuclear power plant, built in the 1970s but never put into operation. It is now used for training and demonstration purposes.

“This is the first time we held this basic training course on nuclear power infrastructure development at the IAEA in Vienna,” explained Jose Bastos, from the IAEA Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section and Director of the training course. “This has enabled us to bring in many IAEA experts to give lectures and discuss with the participants any issues and their questions in detail”. In the past, similar training courses were hosted by Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the USA.

“It is also the first course that had multiple donors,” Bastos added. The course was supported by extra-budgetary funds from the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the USA. It was organized under the IAEA technical cooperation mechanism as part of the project on ‘Supporting Knowledgeable Decision-making and Building Capacities to Start and Implement Nuclear Power Programmes’.

The course has helped us to fill gaps, and the exercises have shown us what is expected from a country when preparing for an INIR mission.
Pawel Pytlaczyck, Ministry of Energy, Poland

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