Global nuclear safety meeting under way

28 March 2017

Significant progress has been made in strengthening nuclear safety across the world, and the need to maintain a robust nuclear safety culture is now universally recognised, delegates to the Seventh Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) were told yesterday. The meeting is taking place at the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Yukiya Amano and Ramzi Jammal, in the centre of the picture, at the opening of the review meeting (Image: D Calma/IAEA)

The CNS guides participating states operating nuclear power plants to maintain a high level of safety by setting international benchmarks in nuclear installation siting, design, construction and operation, financial and human resources, safety assessment and verification, quality assurance and emergency preparedness. The convention entered into force in October 1996, and has 80 contracting parties. They are required to report on implementation of their obligations under the convention at review meetings held every three years.

Opening the meeting, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano reviewed safety initiatives implemented in recent years including the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, adopted after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, and the 2015 Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety.

"After the Fukushima Daiichi accident, countries with nuclear power programs took vigorous steps to reassess all aspects of safety and some countries reformed their regulatory systems. IAEA activities related to the Action Plan are now being implemented through the agency's regular work," he said.

Amano said the IAEA would continue to focus on regulatory effectiveness, safety culture and capacity-building, and that it would give increased attention to issues such as the safety of radioactive sources used in industry, health care and other non-power applications. He said every country using nuclear technology had a responsibility to create a robust framework for safety and security. "This is a national responsibility that cannot be outsourced. But effective international cooperation is also essential," he said.

The president of the review meeting, Ramzi Jammal, who is Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission executive vice-president, said increased participation and transparency were his primary objectives for the meeting. For the first time, all national reports will be posted on the CNS public website 90 days after the review meeting, unless specifically requested otherwise. "Our commitment to transparency can be demonstrated by each contracting party proactively posting their national report, as well as their questions and answers report, on the public CNS website," he said.

He said the meeting would provide contracting parties with a first opportunity to discuss plans and actions following the release of the IAEA Director General's Report on the Fukushima Daiichi Accident in 2015.

"The next two weeks offer us the opportunity to renew and refocus our collective commitment to global nuclear safety," Jammal said. "Focusing on continuous improvement and learning from each other is essential to avoiding complacency."

The Seventh Review Meeting runs until 7 April.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News