Nuclear and radiation safety experts today concluded an eight-day mission to review the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), the country's nuclear regulator. At the request of the Australian Government, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assembled a peer-review team of five regulatory experts from as many nations and three IAEA staff members to conduct a follow-up assessment of an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission conducted in 2007.
This follow-up IRRS mission examined ARPANSA's progress in acting upon the recommendations and suggestions made during the 2007 IRRS mission and reviewed the areas of significant regulatory changes since that review. Both reviews covered safety regulatory aspects of all facilities and activities regulated by ARPANSA.
IRRS team leader Kaare Ulbak, Chief Advisor of Denmark's National Institute of Radiation Protection, said: "ARPANSA should be commended for the significant amount of efforts in addressing all the findings identified in the 2007 mission and for inviting this follow-up review."
The review team found that ARPANSA has made significant progress toward improving its regulatory activities, as most of the findings identified in the 2007 report have been effectively addressed and therefore can be considered closed. Complementing the ARPANSA strengths identified during the 2007 mission, the 2011 IRRS team noted the following strengths:
- Response to the Tepco Fukushima Dai-ichi accident;
- High level of in-house technical expertise in radiation safety;
- Recognition of the need and willingness to re-organize ARPANSA;
- Timely development of the national sealed source register in good coordination with other relevant organizations; and
- Creation of the Australian clinical dosimetry service and the national dose reference levels database.
The 2011 IRRS team also made recommendations and suggestions to further strengthen ARPANSA's regulatory system, including:
- Making full use of the opportunity to revise the ARPANS Act in 2012;
- Completing implementation of the reorganization of ARPANSA;
- Influencing enhancement of the national framework for nuclear and radiation emergency preparedness;
- Establishing a coordinating function for ARPANSA's Emergency Preparedness and response arrangements;
- Better utilizing the expertise within ARPANSA with respect to the regulation of patient protection; and
- Increasing ARPANSA's leadership role in the implementation of Codes of Practice in patient protection.
The IRRS team identified areas where the Australian Government should take actions to enhance the national regulatory infrastructure for nuclear safety and security. These include:
- Revise the ARPANS Act to take full account of international principles, recommendations and IAEA safety standards and guides; and
- Enhance the national framework for nuclear and radiation emergency preparedness by clearly identifying and assigning responsibilities to ARPANSA and other appropriate organizations.
Carl-Magnus Larsson, Chief Executive Officer of ARPANSA, said, "ARPANSA has benefitted from the IRRS mission using the contribution from senior regulators which has resulted and will certainly lead in further improvements in our regulatory system." He also encouraged other countries that are yet to have an IRRS mission to make use of the IAEA's services in the area of nuclear safety.
About IRRS Missions
IRRS missions are designed to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the national nuclear regulatory infrastructure of States, while recognizing the ultimate responsibility of each State to ensure safety in this area. This is done through consideration of both regulatory, technical and policy issues, with comparisons against IAEA Safety Standards and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere.