EU nuclear security on track

14 June 2012

A review of nuclear security across the European Union (EU) has identified an extensive set of good practices and has urged member states to continue their efforts and cooperate both within the EU and further afield.

The EU's technical response to the Fukushima accident of March 2011 took two tracks: The first tackled safety through the program of stress tests performed on a plant-by-plant basis; The second dealt with security in relation to "theft, sabotage, unauthorised access, unauthorised movement of nuclear material or other malicious act." This was carried out by the Ad-Hoc Group on Nuclear Security (AHGNS), whose report has now been published. It is focused on methods for security evaluation, preventive measures and protection of nuclear power plants with the aim of sharing good practices and improving general security principles.

In its final report to the European Council, the AHGNS has identified 32 good practices covering the areas of national legal and regulatory framework, national security framework, design basis threat, nuclear security culture and contingency planning which it says should apply to all member states. It has also drawn up a list of main conclusions and recommendations, chief amongst them being recognition of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material as the most important multilateral instrument addressing nuclear security. It urged all EU states that have not yet ratified the amended convention to do so as soon as possible.

Sharing is key

The report recognised the "essential and central role" of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in strengthening the global nuclear security framework, and exhorted EU member states to make full use of IAEA services and publications in their national practices as well as encouraging the regular use of IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions. Security issues relating to cyber threat should be included in such missions, the AHGNS noted.

The sharing and implementation of best practices identified through IPPAS missions should be encouraged internationally, taking account of confidentiality requirements. Moreover, cooperation between EU member states and their non-EU neighbours must be encouraged, the report concluded, noting that "The cross-border nature of any nuclear incident is a strong motivation for close cooperation and exchange of information between countries."

Finally, the AHGNS called on EU member states to continue to work on nuclear security with continued inter-state cooperation and information exchange, and says the European Nuclear Security Regulators Association, established in 2004, should be considered as an important body for enhancing nuclear security.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News