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National Strategies for Nuclear Safety Regulatory Competence Needed, Regulators Conclude at IAEA-Supported Meeting

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Participating regulators assessed the status of education and training for regulatory bodies, exchanged experiences and offered feedback during the meeting. (Photo: F. Nassif/IAEA)

Establishing a national strategy is a must to ensure a sustainable supply of competent, well-trained regulatory staff who can effectively oversee nuclear safety.

That was one of the key conclusions of the IAEA-supported Steering Committee on Regulatory Capacity Building and Knowledge Management, held 17-21 December 2018 in Vienna.  

Regulators from 27 countries assessed the status of education and training for regulatory bodies, exchanged experiences and offered feedback during the meeting, which was the committee’s 10th since its establishment in 2009.

A few countries have strategies and many others have begun working on them, but more work is needed, meeting participants noted. Without a strategy in place, there is a risk that regulatory bodies won’t find competent candidates to fill future needs. Meeting participants emphasized the need for regulators to support each other across borders, and encouraged the IAEA to continue offering general guidance and tailored assistance.

The IAEA established the Steering Committee to help regulators ensure that they have the competence needed to maintain a high level of nuclear safety, based on the IAEA Safety Standards.

“Qualified staff are the backbone of countries’ ability to uphold their national responsibility for nuclear safety and security,” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, during his opening speech. “Capacity building is key to strong nuclear safety infrastructure.”

Geza Macsuga, IAEA nuclear safety officer and the meeting’s scientific secretary, said the discussions were useful not only to the participating regulators, who shared their approaches to nuclear safety capacity building and knowledge management, but also to the Agency’s secretariat.

“The meeting helps us at the IAEA understand how we can further support Member States to have well-developed, competent regulatory staff in place at all times,” he said.

During the week-long meeting, IAEA experts updated the committee members on the services and tools the Agency offers in education and training in nuclear installation safety. The participating regulators shared good practices in regulatory competence management, training for leadership, priorities and challenges.

The meeting’s conclusions will contribute to the development of the IAEA’s approach to education and training in nuclear safety after 2020, when its current Strategic Approach to Education in Training in Nuclear Safety ends.

Training regulators

In 2018, the IAEA held more than 70 capacity building activities in nuclear safety for regulators from over 50 countries. Close to half of the activities took place in countries embarking on a nuclear power programme. For such countries, the Agency has developed standardized training material based on the IAEA Safety Standards and practical case studies.

The IAEA also offers  the a methodology and a software tool to carry out a Systematic Assessment of Regulatory Competence Needs to assist countries in self-assessing in the competence needs of their regulatory bodies, operators and other governmental organizations.

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