Operational Safety Review Team (OSART)

Conservative design, careful manufacture and sound construction are prerequisites for the safe operation of nuclear power plants.  The IAEA’s OSART programme assists Member States in strengthening the safety of their nuclear power plants during commissioning and operation, comparing actual practices with IAEA safety standards.

The safety of nuclear installations depends on several factors, for example: capable management, sound policies, procedures, processes and practices; the competence of commissioning and operating personnel; sound accident management and emergency preparedness; and adequate resources. The OSART programme considers these and other aspects in assessing a facility’s operational safety performance.

During an OSART mission a team of international experts conducts in-depth reviews of operational safety performance at a nuclear power plant. They review the factors affecting the management of safety and the performance of personnel. The focus of these OSART missions is on identifying gaps between plant operations and the requirements outlined in the IAEA Safety Standards.

While OSART reviews have a strong technical focus, the expert reviewers also identify safety culture and organizational issues. The scope of an OSART review is agreed between the IAEA and the host organization and can draw on the following fifteen review areas:

  • leadership and management for safety;
  • training and qualification;
  • operations;
  • maintenance;
  • technical support;
  • operational experience feedback;
  • radiation protection;
  • chemistry;
  • emergency preparedness and response;
  • accident management;
  • human-technology-organization interaction;
  • long-term operation;
  • commissioning;
  • transitional period from operation to decommissioning; and
  • the use of Probabilistic Safety Analysis for plant operational safety improvements.

OSART missions provide the host country and the relevant institutions – plant and utility management, the regulatory authority, other governmental authorities – with an objective assessment of the operational safety at the reviewed nuclear power plant compared with the IAEA’s Safety Standards. The reviews are not regulatory inspections or audits of national codes and standards. Instead, they represent a technical exchange of experiences and practices at the working level, aimed at finding opportunities for strengthening programmes, procedures and practices at the nuclear power plant that is being reviewed. The review is performed by interviewing personnel, reviewing documentation and conducting field visits to observe plant condition and adherence to expectations.

OSART missions begin upon request from the Member State and are carefully planned. Approximately one year before the mission is undertaken, the IAEA and plant management meet to agree on the scope, schedule, resources and logistical arrangements necessary to conduct the mission.

The mission itself lasts three weeks. At the end of the mission, the OSART team prepares a draft report for the plant management to review.  The approved report is issued within three months of the end of the mission and the IAEA encourages all host organizations to make it publicly available. Approximately 18 months after the OSART mission, a follow-up visit takes place. During this visit, a group of three or four team members evaluate the progress made in resolving the issues raised during the initial review.

The follow-up team determines the status of the plant response to the recommendations and suggestions and adds these to the final mission report. Recent experience shows that over 95 per cent of the team’s recommendations and suggestions have been implemented or satisfactory progress has been made by the time of the follow-up visit.

OSART mission teams are composed of an international, multidisciplinary team of experts. They comprise a reviewer for each OSART review area (primarily peers from nuclear power plants, but also from regulatory bodies or technical support organizations), a team leader and a deputy team leader from the IAEA.