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Nuclear and Radiation Experts Receive Hands-On Training for Integrated Regulatory Review Service Missions


IAEA experts from nuclear and radiation safety regulatory bodies received practical guidance during an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service training course in March 2022. ( Photo: C. Villarreal Silva/IAEA)

Maintaining a strong pool of experts to support the IAEA’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) missions was the key objective of an IRRS training course hosted recently at IAEA headquarters. IRRS missions contribute to nuclear safety by providing an independent and thorough review of national regulatory frameworks across the globe.

“The interactive scenarios designed to simulate the process and activities of an  IRRS mission, the role of IAEA safety standards in identifying and formulating observations, how to conduct interviews and review documentation were among the key areas that the training course provided,” said Anna Hajduk Bradford, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. “This well-integrated capacity building effort enabled participants to have a comprehensive understanding of what an IRRS mission involves in ensuring safety at nuclear facilities.”  

Thirty-eight experts from nuclear and radiation safety regulatory bodies from 29 countries received practical guidance and training on participating in an IAEA IRRS review.

The course provided staff from regulatory bodies, who may not be fully familiar with the IRRS process, with hands-on training about the preparation and the conduct of such missions. Discussions also focused on the specific roles and responsibilities of the IRRS mission reviewers as well as on the integrated approach to the review of common aspects of a country’s national legal and governmental framework and regulatory infrastructure for both nuclear and radiation safety. “The participants who successfully completed the training course will likely be invited to take part as reviewers in future IRRS missions,” said Bradford.

IRRS is designed to help countries strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of their governmental, legal and regulatory framework for nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety, using the relevant IAEA safety standards as a basis. Its methodology includes a peer review for both technical and policy issues. IRRS missions aim to support countries in integrating regulatory requirements into national infrastructure and advancing the effective independence of regulatory authorities.

During the practical exercises, the participants were given guidance on the kind of information that should be provided as recommendations and suggestions to the host country for further enhancing nuclear and radiation safety regulatory oversight. A session on IRRS Mission Report writing involved discussion of highlighting good practices to improve safety.

Participants learned that in advance of an IRRS mission, the IAEA and the host country agree on the scope of the mission, including by defining which types of regulated facilities and activities will be included. “The review missions help assess national regulatory functions pertaining to multiple activities, including regulation of radiation safety, transport safety, nuclear security for controlled material and emergency preparedness,” said Bradford.

The interactive nature of the course included simulations of interviews with host country counterparts, team meetings, the formulation of observations and the drafting of a mission report, all of which gave participants a comprehensive understanding of the various aspects of an IRRS mission.

Here are some insights from participants:

IAEA experts from nuclear and radiation safety regulatory bodies at an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service training course hosted in March 2022. ( Photo: C. Villarreal Silva/IAEA)

Hanne N. Waltenburg, Deputy Director of Radiation Protection at the Danish Health Authority:

“The exercises are a valuable part of the training course, giving the opportunity to get a flavour of the different mission steps in cooperation with colleagues from different countries. The exercises give useful insights into transforming the observations gained from the advanced reference material and interviews into a mission report, thus providing for a better learning experience in combination with the course lectures.”

Jeff Stevenson, Senior Power Reactor Site Inspector at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission:

“The training course provides a very comprehensive overview of what an IRRS mission entails. It is well designed with excellent lectures that explained the various aspects of a mission combined with exercises that allowed the skills to be put into practice. The course demonstrated the importance of IRRS missions and their contribution to continual improvement of nuclear and radiological safety around the world.”

Andrej Stritar, former Director of the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration and one of the course instructors, who has participated in IRRS missions to China, Japan, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the United Arab Emirates:

“IRRS is a highly beneficial initiative due to the reciprocal learning dynamic of the missions. We see how others perform the same tasks that we do and learn from each other in this way.  Hands-on experience is an important part of being prepared for these missions and the interactive exercises in this course provide that experience.”

This training course was co-funded by the European Union and the United States of America.

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