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SEED - Where Nuclear Safety Starts

A ShakeCast image of an earthquake that struck on 30 January 2014, 838.9 km from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station south of Los Angles, California in the USA.

For M. Waqas Sherani, of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, having the IAEA's input on where to build the country's nuclear power plants, is a big advantage when it comes to safety.

Through its Site and External Events Design (SEED) review service, the IAEA's International Seismic Safety Centre (ISSC) gives Member States recommendations and guidelines on how best to evaluate a potential building site based on the proposed nuclear power plant's ability to withstand natural disasters and other hazards.

According to Sherani, receiving the Agency's unbiased opinion on nuclear power plant sites in Pakistan has increased public confidence in the activities of the nuclear power sector, and has increased the knowledge and confidence of the country's internal experts. Pakistan has three nuclear power reactors online and another two are under construction.

SEED review services, provided to Member States at their request, involve IAEA experts visiting sites where nuclear installations may be built, evaluating their suitability, and analyzing the steps that Member States have taken to decide on current sites, all checked against the IAEA safety standards and recommendations.

"I think the work that the International Seismic Safety Centre is doing is wonderful, because if our site is safe, then our people are safe," says Sherani. The ISSC monitors and researches extreme events (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, forest fires, etc.) that could affect nuclear power plants.

Egypt, which has had numerous IAEA site evaluations since the country first seriously began pursuing nuclear power in 1979, considers these services quite beneficial.

Soheir El-Hemamy, Chairman of Radiation Control in Egypt's National Nuclear and Radiological Authority, says it's very useful for the country and its nuclear regulatory body to have the experience of the IAEA and its partners at their disposal. "The IAEA has highlighted problems with our site." And the Agency has also helped Egypt understand how to account for possible changes in the surrounding environment so that nuclear power can be operated safely.

Hand in Hand with Member States

The International Seismic Safety Centre (ISSC) has conducted more than 430 site and external hazard evaluation missions since 1980.

The IAEA draws experts from the global nuclear community, representing established Member State regulators and utilities as well as from various nuclear technical and scientific organizations to assist in carrying out SEED missions.

For example, Canada, with its 19 operating nuclear power reactors and more than 50 years' experience in nuclear power, continues to be an active participant in SEED missions and assists the ISSC in preparing and vetting IAEA Site Safety Guides.

Andrei Blahoianu, of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, says his country not only contributes to the ISSC, but receives benefits from the interaction as well.

Canada uses information from the IAEA to update its safety and regulatory documents, taking the work Canadian nuclear experts do in the international sphere into the national arena.

Sherani, El-Hemamy, and Blahoianu were among 100 Member State representatives attending the five-day Plenary Meeting of the International Seismic Safety Centre's Programme in Vienna from 27 to 31 January 2014.

Last update: 26 Jul 2017

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