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Now Available: Emerging Opportunities in Managing Nuclear Safety and Security Interface


Nuclear safety and nuclear security are two sides of the same coin: protecting human life, health and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. Safety deals with preventing accidental exposure to radiation, while nuclear security focuses on preventing the use of nuclear and radioactive material for malicious acts.

Given this close link, nuclear safety and security goals are most easily achieved when they are designed and implemented in an integrated manner, so that they re-enforce rather than compromise each other. While the responsibility for nuclear safety and security within a country rests with its authorities, the IAEA promotes international cooperation in this field.

The recently issued Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Security Interface: Approaches and National Experiences publication summarizes Member States’ experiences in and approaches to addressing the effective management of the interface between nuclear safety and nuclear security for facilities and activities.

“It is paramount that nuclear safety and nuclear security experts work together to establish robust and well-coordinated mechanisms within their facilities and organizations up to national level, to ensure that nuclear safety and security complement each other,” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.

The interface between nuclear security and safety include many aspects: the regulatory infrastructure; engineering provisions in the design and construction of nuclear installations; controls on access to nuclear installations; the categorization of radioactive sources; the management of radioactive sources and radioactive material, including spent fuel and radioactive waste products; the detection and recovery of uncontrolled sources; and emergency preparedness and response. The very early integration of nuclear safety with nuclear security into the design of a nuclear installation provides an opportunity to address the interface and potentially to prevent structural problems.

The publication draws attention to and provides a better understanding of the critical elements of this interface and highlights the challenges, opportunities and good practices for its effective management when planning and implementing different programmes and activities in the nuclear field.

There are a range of different approaches to manage this specific interface with the goal to mutually enhance both disciplines. In some countries, the responsibility for regulating nuclear safety and nuclear security lies within the same organization. Nuclear safety and nuclear security measures are designed and implemented in an integrated manner and nuclear safety and nuclear security expertise is used in the preparation of all regulatory guides. The ‘one organization — one culture’ approach, allows safety and nuclear security matters to be taken into account in all decision making and can take advantage of the synergies and avoid the adverse effects of conflicting regulations.

“Effective coordination between safety and security leadership is of particular importance to overcome the often competing interests of both disciplines,” said Elena Bulgova, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security. “This new publication represent consensus achieved among our key stakeholders.”

Some countries have a much wider concept of ‘national nuclear security’, where nuclear safety involves specific entities such as the regulatory body, technical support organizations and license holders, and other national bodies may be involved in nuclear security, for example the nuclear security authority, security forces, intelligence agencies and ministries for foreign affairs and defense.

“Under such an organizational set-up, coordination is even more important and this publication will be the foundation for developing an approach to enhance the IAEA’s support to Member States in this important area,” said Dominique Delattre, Head of the IAEA’s Safety Standards and Security Guidance Development Section. “It marks the commencement of a series of publications to share extensive experience on best addressing the interface.”

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