IAEA urges nuke regulators enhance safety regulations

The International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems closed here Thursday, urging nuclear regulators worldwide to stress more of the safety regulations than post-accident emergency measures. The conference, organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is the first major event specifically devoted to nuclear regulatory systems since the nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

More than 250 senior nuclear safety and security regulators from 40 member states and five international organizations. In his opening remarks, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said strengthening nuclear safety is a continuous process and there should be no complacency in safety matters. Amano proposed specific actions in some key areas including enhancing regulatory measures and addressing the challenges in managing the radioactive waste and spent fuel.

IAEA would support new members in establishing and strengthening their regulatory framework, and international cooperation on emergency management should be enhanced, he added. Tero Varjoranta, president of the conference, said substantial efforts and resources have been invested to understand what happened, and why, in the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and "stress tests" have been carried out in all nuclear power plants in the world.

However, Varjoranta noted that regulators don't have a systematic way of collecting, analyzing and sharing regulatory experience, hence the need for a "regulatory operating experience program" should be considered. He also stressed the importance of communication, coordination and consistency in national and international responses to emergencies.

Varjoranta said regulators should implement the relevant IAEA Safety Standards, especially the requirements on development and implementation of predefined generic and operational criteria. "Regulators should also facilitate the preparation and conduct of national stress test of emergency management utilizing harmonized scenarios developed by the IAEA and engaging stakeholder at all levels," he added. "Regulators should report results in a transparent manner."

Varjoranta also said that the IAEA is requested to organize another regulators' conference to review the progress of this meeting as well as to discuss and assess possible new regulatory issues. He added that the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, ENSREG, would host the next international conference on effective nuclear regulatory systems, in 2016.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the largest since the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1986, was a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

Philippines News agency