Fukushima lessons discussed

03 September 2012

Representatives from over sixty countries met at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) headquarters in Vienna last week to analyse the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan and to discuss the lessons learned from it. Their findings could lead to amendments to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS).

Second CNS meeting at IAEA - Aug 2012
Participants discuss the lessons learned from Fukushima (Image: IAEA)

The contracting parties to the CNS agreed at a review meeting in 2011 that they would convene an extraordinary meeting in 2012 to review and discuss lessons learned so far from the Fukushima Daiichi accident and to review the effectiveness of the provisions of the CNS. Review meetings are held every three years. The extraordinary meeting - held 27-31 August - was attended by more than 600 participants from 64 of the 75 contracting parties.

The CNS entered into force in October 1996 with the objectives of achieving and maintaining a high level of nuclear safety worldwide, to establish and maintain effective defences in nuclear installations against potential radiological hazards and to prevent accidents having radiological consequences. There are 75 contracting parties to the convention, including all countries with operating nuclear power plants.

Opening the meeting, IAEA director general Yukiya Amano said: "This important meeting will be closely watched by the global nuclear community. I know you will make good use of this opportunity to consider further measures to strengthen nuclear safety throughout the world in the light of the lessons which we are still learning from the Fukushima Daiichi accident."

He said, "The accident may have faded from the international headlines, but it is essential that all of us - member states, the IAEA and other key stakeholders - maintain our sense of urgency and our commitment to implementing the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety in full. Much work remains to be done and we must not relax our guard."

Prior to the meeting, the countriers submitted national reports addressing the lessons identified from the accident and subsequently reviewed each other's reports. During the first two days of the meeting, participants discussed a range of nuclear safety-related topics including severe accident management and recovery, reactor design, emergency preparedness and response, and post-accident management, as well as international cooperation.

In order to make further progress to strengthen nuclear safety, the countries encourage networks of operators, regulatory bodies, international organizations and technical support organizations to cooperate on the lessons learned from the accident. The parties also decided to establish an 'effectiveness and transparency' working group with the task of reporting to the next review meeting on a list of actions to strengthen the CNS and on proposals to amend, where necessary, the convention.

"As was learned from experience with the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents, full analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi accident could take several years," the IAEA noted. The contracting parties agreed that they should continue to discuss what is learned from the Fukushima accident over the next several review meetings.

The IAEA member states will review implementation of the IAEA's Action Plan at the agency's General Conference later this month, while the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in December will provide another opportunity to share knowledge and lessons learned from the accident.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Filed under: IAEA, Fukushima response