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Technical and Scientific Support Key for Strong Nuclear Safety and Security: IAEA Conference Opens

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Speakers at the opening session of the TSO Conference discuss the important role of technical and scientific expertise in ensuring nuclear safety and security in Brussels, Belgium, 15 October 2018.

Organizations play a supportive role in sustaining the nuclear and radiological safety and security infrastructure in many countries, working with the regulators. The importance of the work of these entities, known as Technical and Scientific Support Organizations (TSOs), and how the challenges they face can be addressed is the focus of an IAEA conference in Brussels this week.

The International Conference on the Challenges Faced by Technical and Scientific Support Organizations in Enhancing Nuclear Safety and Security: Ensuring Effective and Sustainable Expertise, taking place from 15 to 18 October, highlights initiatives to develop and strengthen the capability of TSOs. They are independent organizations that provide expertise and services to national regulatory bodies on scientific and technical issues related to nuclear safety and security.

Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, pointed to the diversity of TSOs in his opening remarks, noting that “there is no one-size-fits all” for the organizations. The conference will discuss the wide range of formats for the organizations and their cooperation with regulatory bodies, he said.

Jan Jambon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Security and the Interior of Belgium, highlighted that competent safety authorities – supported by TSOs –  are key to safe nuclear activities. “We need experts passionate about nuclear safety, experts that work day in, day out to make sure that nuclear technology works for the benefit of the people, without having to worry about accidents,” he said.

Michel Van haesendonck, Director General of Bel V, the Belgian TSO that conducts safety assessment for nuclear projects and host of the conference, outlined the work of his organization. “Our mission is to contribute towards protecting people and the environment against the danger of ionising radiation on the basis of experience built up over 50 years,” he said.

Other speakers at the opening session included Nestor Masriera, President of the Board of Directors of Argentina’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority and Michael Huebel, Head of the European Commission’s Unit on Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety. Following their opening addresses, Benoit De Boeck, President of the 2014 TSO Conference and Gustavo Caruso, Director of the IAEA’s Office of Safety and Security Coordination, gave keynote speeches.

The conference brings together 290 participants from both TSOs and regulatory bodies from 65 Member States and 5 international organizations. Throughout the event, 80 posters and 47 presentations will highlight specific areas within each of the six topical sessions and stimulate discussions among participants.

The IAEA holds an international TSO conference every four years to bring together a broad range of experts to evaluate actions to support TSOs. The conferences also provide a platform for participants to discuss ways to enhance international cooperation through IAEA safety and security networks, in particular via the TSO Forum.

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