Senior international nuclear and radiation safety experts today concluded a 12-day mission to review the Netherlands’ regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety.
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team found that the Dutch counterparts were committed to regulating the country’s small but diverse nuclear programme and the use of radiation sources.
In its preliminary findings, the team welcomed a January 2014 decision to consolidate several regulatory authorities into a single, independent administrative authority, a move that will streamline a complex division of regulatory responsibilities among many administrations within several ministries. The team recognized this merger as a significant challenge for the country in the coming years.
“We found that Dutch regulators are committed to further improving their country’s regulation of nuclear safety and radiation protection,” said IRRS team leader Andrej Stritar, Director of the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration. “This commitment will be useful during the consolidation of their regulatory framework in the coming years.”
The Dutch Government had invited the review, which included interviews and discussions with regulatory staff and site visits to observe inspections. The mission team compared the Dutch regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety with IAEA Safety Standards.
Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp, who is responsible for the Dutch Nuclear Energy Act and related regulations, received the report during a meeting today.
“In setting up the new independent administrative authority, the ANVS, we will consider many of the findings from the self-evaluation, but above all we will take on board your recommendations and suggestions,” he said. (Read his statement here).
“The IRRS mission could not have come at a better time for the Netherlands. Your efforts will contribute to the way we shape the new organisation and prioritise tasks. This includes establishing and formalising procedures and improving legislation, but also improving how we communicate with the public.”
The IRRS team identified two good practices:
- The Netherlands’ strong system for protection from radiation in scrap metal; and
- The regulator’s initiative to create an international forum for nuclear regulators in countries that operate nuclear power plants manufactured by German companies, in light of Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power.
The mission identified some issues in need of attention or improvement, including the following:
- National policies on nuclear and radiation safety, radioactive waste management and financial provisions for decommissioning and disposal should be consolidated. The consolidated policy should emphasise sustainability of human resources;
- The new regulatory body should create a common safety culture among all its staff, to enable safety to be regulated in an integrated and coordinated manner. The management system should include systematic training and qualification of regulatory staff;
- The new regulatory body should be protected from undue political influence and have clear communication and cooperation among its different parts. In addition, it should be allocated sufficient resources;
- The regulatory body should further develop and periodically review regulations and guides to improve consistency, clarity and transparency. It should also strengthen the regulatory framework in the area of emergency preparedness and response, as well as patient and public protection, and
- Inspections should be systematically planned and prioritized and their findings effectively tracked and enforced.
The final mission report will be provided to the Dutch Government in about three months. The authorities have announced that they will make the report public.
The Netherlands has one operating nuclear power reactor, two research reactors, a fuel enrichment plant, a radioactive waste storage facility and a large number of radioactive sources in use in industry, medicine and research.
About IRRS Missions
IRRS missions are designed to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the national nuclear regulatory infrastructure, while recognizing the ultimate responsibility of each State to ensure nuclear safety. This is done through consideration of regulatory, technical and policy issues, with comparisons against IAEA Safety Standards, and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere.
More information about IRRS missions is available on the IAEA Website.