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Sharing Best Practices: IAEA Holds First International School of Leadership for Nuclear Safety in Japan


Participants engaged in practical exercises at the IAEA School of Leadership for Nuclear Safety hosted in Japan. (Photo:M.Haage/Evolving Energy Consortium 2EC)

Participants from seven Asian countries at the first IAEA International School of Nuclear and Radiological Leadership for Safety hosted in Tokai University, Japan, gained thorough theoretical and practical understanding on leadership’s role in strengthening nuclear safety in practice. This included information on integrated management systems, systematic approaches to boost safety practices and processes at nuclear and related facilities.

“Leadership for safety needs to be demonstrated in daily work — it is not only for emergencies,” said Shahid Mallick, Head of the Programme, Strategy and Coordination Section at the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. “This School’s objective is to help build competence and increase awareness among our stakeholders.”

One of the core objectives of this IAEA leadership programme is that leadership for safety in nuclear and radiological environments is key to preventing accidents and mitigating their consequences, should they occur and attention to safety is paramount.  This School helps Member States mid-level professional in the nuclear field, to develop skills and knowledge in the domain of nuclear safety — the goal is to have this expertise throughout their career.

Twenty-nine professionals, including 13 women, from regulatory bodies, nuclear operators and technical organizations, participated in this intensive two-week programme. The course included presentations from IAEA experts on topics such as the human, technical and organisational factors in nuclear and radiation safety, emergency preparedness, the IAEA Safety Standards as well as how to strengthen nuclear safety in terms of processes and procedures within an organization.

"We should foster continuously leadership for safety because cultivating culture for safety is never end — like raising a child," highlighted Jun Hirouchi, a participant from the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency.

Expand knowledge and expertise

Participants discussed how organizations can adapt and ensure that processes and mindsets focus on the ‘Safety First’ principle to strength nuclear safety culture in all nuclear and related facilities, as well as understanding the problem and defining it.  The case studies and ‘leadership games’ enabled participants to think through situations, identify gaps and ways that could help an organisation improve its nuclear safety processes and mechanism.  The importance of communication and transparency were highlighted.

Reflecting the importance of this School, Karmolporn Pakdee, a Dissemination Officer at Thailand’s office of Atoms for Peace said: "Nuclear and radiological safety is so important. It needs everybody’s cooperation, we all need to be committed to it as a team through planning and systematic approaches that include the proper use of diverse tools and communication — only then can we bring nuclear and radiological safety to the public in every corner all over the world."

“At first, it was difficult for me to think separately of a “leader” and a “manager”,” said Risako Kegasa, a participant from the Hitachi-GE Nuclear Plant’s Engineering Department. “However, I finally understood the leader is not a position, but leadership is the method of thinking, communicating and organizing.”

One of the specific area of the course content is based on the IAEA safety standards, in particular the General Safety Requirements Leadership and Management for Safety (No. GSR Part 2). Participants analysed specific case studies involving scenarios such as unintended medical exposure, a nuclear power plant outage and leaks of radioactive material.

As part of the programme, participants visited the Naraha Remote Technology Development Centre, The TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Centre, the Collaborative Laboratories for Advanced Decommissioning Sciences and they were also given a tour of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.  

"This course aims to strengthen safety leadership across the region for decades to come,” said Mallick. “By applying what they learn here throughout their careers, the participants will contribute to improved nuclear and radiation safety in their countries.” 

The participants who attended this programme from 17 to 28 February were from Bangladesh, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. Other International Schools of Nuclear and Radiological Leadership for Safety this year will be held in Spain and in Greece in May, in Egypt in June, in Argentina in July, in India and in Mexico in November.

A pilot version of the school was held in November 2017 in Nice, France. The successful methodology was extended in 2018 in Mexico and India followed by various courses in Turkey, Pakistan, Brazil and Morocco in 2019.

Group discussion at the IAEA School of Leadership for Nuclear Safety hosted in Japan. (Photo: Nasir Afghan)

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