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Regulatory Cooperation Forum Discusses Ways to Further Enhance Nuclear Safety


The annual IAEA Regulatory Cooperation Forum Meeting was held during 66th IAEA General Conference. (Photo: W. Li/IAEA)

Enhancing the sharing of regulatory knowledge and experience, as well as assessing global trends and circumstances that can impact nuclear safety, was the focus of the annual Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF) meeting. 

The RCF meeting held today on the margins of the 66th IAEA General Conference aims to strengthen nuclear safety globally, through promoting robust international cooperation and collaboration.

Newly elected RCF Chair Ramzi Jammal stressed the importance of leadership and collaboration in securing safety of nuclear power, particularly for those countries introducing nuclear power.  He also expressed his willingness and interest to support the RCF in enhancing the benefits provided to its members.

In her opening remarks, Anna Hajduk Bradford, Director of the IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety Division, reaffirmed the Agency’s continued support to the RCF and acknowledged the “valuable outcomes of this regulator-to-regulator cooperation.” Highlighting the value of IAEA peer review services, such as the Integrated Regulatory Review Service Mission (IRRS) – set up to help countries strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of their regulatory infrastructure for nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety – she said: “UAE and Belarus, which recently started their first nuclear power plants, have utilized the IRRS missions to further enhance their regulatory framework.”

Newly elected RCF Vice Chair, Faizan Mansoor, spoke about how Pakistan has utilized the IAEA safety standards and security recommendations for its regulatory framework. He also explained Pakistan’s recent support activities to regulatory bodies in embarking countries, with the IAEA, and showed willingness to continue such support.

During the session, representatives from Bangladesh and Egypt provided updates on their respective nuclear power programmes.

In his presentation, Satyajit Ghose, Project Director of the Nuclear Regulatory Infrastructure Development Project at the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA), explained that the national regulatory body is conducting regulatory oversight of the first nuclear power plant in Rooppur, for which construction began five years ago in 2017. He said that Bangladesh planned to host its first IRRS later this year. IRRS missions help countries strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of their regulatory infrastructure for nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety. He acknowledged the support from the RCF in capacity building efforts and expressed Bangladesh’s readiness to support other RCF members, through exchange of experiences.

Samy Soliman, Chairman Egyptian Nuclear & Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA), gave details of the regulatory review of the licensing for the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant. He highlighted the importance of the capability of the regulatory body to ensure its high level of safety is secured during the entire life cycle of a nuclear power plant.

The IAEA and the European Commission (EC) also provided updates on their respective assistance programmes, in which they are expanding their support to regulators in countries interested in introducing nuclear power. Ynte Stockmann, Project Manager in the Directorate-General for International Partnership (DG INTPA) at the EC, said that the EC remains committed to working together with partners to improve nuclear safety.

Kirsi Alm-Lytz, Head of the IAEA’s Regulatory Activities Section, highlighted the Agency’s support to countries embarking on nuclear power programmes, and provided information on related peer review services and handbooks that offer guidance on aspects such as site selection and site evaluation. She gave an overview of the Agency’s focus on facilitating the safe and secure deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs), through its SMR Regulators’ Forum and Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative (NHSI). “With the growing interest in SMRs as part of the future nuclear fleet of power plants, their regulation requires our attention,” Alm-Lytz said, adding: “The evolution of the RCF is important in response to these changing circumstances.” Alm-Lytz also attributed the RCF’s evolution to feedback from its members through a survey on the effectiveness of its programme and the implementation of the RCF strategic plan.

Towards improving nuclear safety worldwide

The RCF is a member-driven forum of nuclear power regulators, established in 2010 and comprised of countries with advanced nuclear power programmes, countries embarking on nuclear power programmes and countries with smaller programmes considering expansion. Its aim is to improve coordination for regulatory infrastructure development, sustaining a high level of nuclear safety that is consistent with the IAEA safety standards. It also aims to optimize resources among RCF members, the IAEA and other international support mechanisms/groups to ensure complementarity.

The RCF is open to all IAEA member countries. Senior regulatory body representatives take part in forum meetings along with representatives from the IAEA, the European Commission and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

RCF members are Bangladesh, Belarus, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, the European Commission, Finland, France, Ghana, the IAEA, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and Viet Nam. Observers to the RCF are Germany, Kenya and OECD/NEA.

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