A strong and independent regulator is the cornerstone of a safe nuclear power programme. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power accident in 2011 brought into sharp focus the need to further strengthen effective regulatory control and oversight. It also underscored the need to review existing national safety and security regulations and ensure their compliance with global safety standards and guidelines. These key issues will be addressed at next week’s International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems at IAEA headquarters.
Over 200 regulators and experts from all over the world will meet to exchange information and good practices to build and to further strengthen regulatory effectiveness as well as competences for nuclear safety and security.
“Nuclear regulation and its implementation is the responsibility of the State, shared by operators, users and national authorities,” said Gustavo Caruso, the Director of the IAEA Office of Safety and Security Coordination. As more countries become involved in the nuclear industry, sound regulations to strengthen safety and security assume greater significance.
National oversight and strengthening international cooperation
First and foremost, countries need to put in place an appropriate national legal infrastructure and regulatory bodies that will ensure the safe and secure operations of nuclear installations and handling of materials, including the use of radioactive sources and nuclear applications.
Having ‘watchful eyes’ to determine what is an acceptable level of safety, take appropriate actions to bridge the gaps, if any, and promote enhanced safety and security cultures, are important regulatory responsibilities.
The IAEA also provides support services to Member States’ regulatory bodies by organizing technical and policy dialogues, legislative and regulatory assistance, training, networking and peer reviews.
One of the IAEA support services —The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) — is also marking its 10th Anniversary next week.
The IRRS is designed to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the national regulatory infrastructure of Member States. The conference will provide an ideal opportunity to reflect on the over 70 IRRS missions conducted thus far and share lessons learned, experiences gained, and improve networks.
Ultimately, through this conference, participants will be able to provide feedback on the steps taken to strengthen the national regulatory bodies’ role through five interactive sessions covering:
- Regulatory lessons learned and actions taken
- Challenges in regulating nuclear installations
- Challenges in regulating radiation sources and radioactive waste
- Strengthening international cooperation
- Strengthening regulatory competence
In addition, a special panel will discuss the regulatory aspects and challenges of high level waste and provide an opportunity to interface with nuclear safety regulators groups, including: the Ibero- American Forum of Radiation and Nuclear Safety Regulatory Agencies (FORO), the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA), the Arab Network of Nuclear Regulators (ANNuR), and the Regulatory Cooperation Forum.
This conference is the fourth in a series of conferences on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems with previous conferences being held in Ottawa, Canada in 2013, in Cape Town, South Africa in 2009, and in Moscow, Russian Federation, in 2006. Further details concerning the International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems, such as the conference programme, can be found at the conference’s website here.