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Opening Statement at 24th Commission on Safety Standards (CSS) Meeting

Vienna, Austria

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all here in Vienna today and to formally open the twenty-fourth meeting of the Commission on Safety Standards. Let me first thank the CSS for its efforts in achieving wider interest in and use of the Safety Standards worldwide as we observe today. The work and achievements of this Commission are vitally important elements for continuous improvements in the Global Nuclear Safety Regime, which in turn, support international efforts aimed at ensuring high levels of safety in mature nuclear programmes and those under consideration as ambitious new plans. The IAEA Safety Standards and their application, in particular the peer reviews and advisory services, both at national and international levels are essential components that support the harmonized implementation of other international instruments such as the Conventions on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention and the development of effective national safety infrastructures.

Future Challenges and Opportunities in Nuclear Safety and Security

Today, the nuclear community is faced with many new challenges in safety and security. As new nuclear power programmes emerge and existing programmes expand and mature, managing safety and security becomes a cornerstone of sustainable development. IAEA Safety Standards are among the key instruments for the sharing and application of knowledge among nuclear safety professionals worldwide. In order to prevent another serious nuclear accident or terrorist incident, which, should it occur, will erase the high expectation of nuclear power development worldwide, we need new thinking and a new approach adapted to the dynamically changing global situations. This is why I prefer to use the phrase "Vitae Nova" rather than "renaissance" which requires fresh insights, overcoming old mindsets and promoting modest but careful consideration rather than a simple revival of good old days. We still have significant room for further improvement of our safety management and culture in order to better meet the newly expanding and increasingly complex challenges of nuclear development and safety.

In consideration of the future of the IAEA Safety Standards programme, let me focus your attention for a moment on the recent report by the Commission of Eminent Persons on the future of the IAEA. This report contains many thought-provoking and important recommendations pertaining to the IAEA Safety Standards and their application. In particular, the Commission of Eminent Persons recommended, and I will quote, "over time states should enter into binding agreements to adhere to effective safety standards and to be subject to international peer reviews of nuclear safety." Such a vision may seem like a very long term and difficult vision at this moment; however, the fresh insights and the overcoming of traditional mindsets will enable us to work together to reach higher levels of safety through improvements to the Global Nuclear Safety Regime, particularly in light of the need to support the rapidly expanding "new entrant" nuclear power programmes. At this meeting, there will be a presentation of the recommendations of the Commission of Eminent Persons, and CSS views on these recommendations will be very useful as the agency is in the process of developing policies and programmes to address the recommendations.

The subject of new entrants to the Global Nuclear Safety Regime deserves specific mention. As highlighted not only in the report of the Commission of Eminent Persons, but also in the International Nuclear Safety Group (INSAG) Chairman´s letter to the IAEA DG, and I quote from his letter, "new entrants may have experience in constructing and operating large-scale industrial and infrastructure projects, they may not be fully familiar with the unique requirements of nuclear power and thus may not fully recognize the major commitments and undertakings that they must assume... each new entrant has sweeping and difficult obligations to fulfil in assuring the capacity for continuing attention to safety over the entire life of the facility..." These points are particularly significant and we must bear them in mind to ensure that the results of our work with safety standards in this area, including new safety guides, can be effectively applied not only in existing nuclear programmes, but also in emerging ones.

Recent and Upcoming Events Focusing on Safety Standards

I would like to take a few moments to mention three important upcoming and recent events:

    • First, the Senior Regulators´ meeting on Friday, the Third of October, during the 52nd General Conference;

 

    • Second, the upcoming Scientific Forum, also during the General Conference on the 30th of September and the first of October; and

 

  • Third, the recent meeting of responsibilities of vendor countries, recognizing the importance of involving vendors and component suppliers in the development of safety standards.

In each of these venues, IAEA Safety Standards will be or were central to the discussions among the many international participants. For the Senior Regulators´ meeting, the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the IAEA Safety Standards will be an opportunity to discuss the future of the Safety Standards in the long-term. In the programme, a presentation from the CSS is planned to introduce a panel discussion. In this regard, the CSS should discuss its role towards the promotion of a high level of safety worldwide, including new nuclear power countries, based on the application and continuous improvement of the Safety Standards.

Please allow me to make brief remarks regarding some specific CSS activities.

Long-term Structure and Road Map of Safety Standards

I welcome the adoption at the last CSS meeting of the CSS roadmap for the long-term structure of the IAEA Safety Standards. Such a plan allows for the finalization of a clear, consistent and integrated structure for Safety Requirements and the submission of a long-term list of Safety Guides with a manageable number of publications. It is important to emphasize that any reduction in number of Safety Guides should not result in a reduction of necessary recommendations. Notwithstanding, I believe that a manageable and user-friendly number of Safety Standards should result in better and fewer, at most 70 to 80, Safety Guides.

Achievements in Safety Requirements

I would like to highlight the achievement of the two Safety Requirements submitted for the meeting of the Board of Governors later this month. The first is related to the revision of TS-R-1 on the safe transport of Radioactive Material (the 2009 edition), and will achieve harmonization with other UN and modal transport regulations. With this revision, and in line with Board policy, it is anticipated that the frequency of future revisions will significantly decrease. The second is the new safety requirement on predisposal management of radioactive waste, which is the first thematic module of the long-term general safety requirements that implements the new format for safety requirements. I believe that these examples demonstrate the success and importance of the CSS in achieving continuous improvements to the IAEA Safety Standards.

One of the drafts submitted to this meeting is the Safety Requirements on safety assessment and, after its approval by the Committees, the Secretariat has made all efforts to prepare a version which complies with the CSS roadmap by adopting the new format for safety requirements. Therefore, we expect its endorsement with this new format so that this Safety Requirement would be already the second thematic module of the General Safety Requirements adopted, after the module on predisposal waste management endorsed at the last meeting. We are now revising GSR-1 on legal and government infrastructure also based on the same format.

Main Topics for the 4th CSS Term

I also welcome the establishment at the last meeting of a list of main topics for the 4th CSS term and look forward to advice from the CSS meeting on prioritization. In addition to the issue of the safety/security interface, which I will come back to, the topics identified relate to safety infrastructure, new design, new application, ageing and long term operation, medical application, mining expansion, natural sources, human and organizational factors. All should be addressed, and our draft plans for the 2010-2011 P&B already consider these issues.

Revision of the BSS

There will also be a status report on the revision of the BSS including discussion on the plan to incorporate the new format. I believe that this is an important undertaking that will represent a key milestone in implementing the long-term structure of the Safety Standards.

Safety and Security Interface

As I just mentioned, among the policy issues to be discussed, the safety/security interface remains an important one. As you are aware, the Safety Fundamentals states that "safety measures and security measures must be designed and implemented in an integrated manner." This was further highlighted in the conclusion of the last CSS meeting and in the letter from Mr. Lacoste to the IAEA DG. Specifically, the important aspect mentioned in this letter that is related to the CSS mandate is the verification that "the recommendations from the security series publications do not compromise safety." It will therefore be important for the CSS to discuss its advice on how to conduct this verification in the future and further steps toward more comprehensive integration in the long term.

Other Policy Considerations

Among the expectations for this meeting there are a number of other important policy issues to be discussed, including the involvement of stakeholders and the feedback mechanisms for continuously improving the safety standards. Again, I believe that continuous improvements with vigilance are vital to sustain the good performance in safety and security, and advice from the CSS on how to further improve IAEA Safety Standards and their application as effective global standards will be very useful in this regard and therefore, CSS activities remain always a "work in progress."

Closing Remarks

For my closing remarks, please allow me to take this opportunity to welcome Mr. Khammar Mrabit as the new Head of Safety and Security Coordination Section, succeeding Mr. Luis Lederman. Khammar brings to this assignment a wealth of technical and policy expertise from his more than twenty years with the agency and a high level of enthusiasm for ensuring the continued success of this programme. And last but not least, I wish, as usual, very productive dialogue again in this session.

Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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