IAEA highlights effectiveness of peer safety reviews

29 August 2019

Nuclear facility operators promptly act on the findings of Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) missions, with over 95% of issues resolved or in satisfactory progress by the time of follow-up missions, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

An IAEA OSART mission to Spain's Almaraz nuclear power plant in February 2018 (Image: M Klingenboeck / IAEA)

OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by objectively assessing safety performance using the IAEA's Safety Standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate. Follow-up missions, usually conducted 18 months after the main OSART mission, are standard components of the OSART programme.

The IAEA said an analysis of the effectiveness of the OSART service, based on the 35 OSART follow-up missions conducted between 2012 and 2018, showed that plant operators act promptly on the mission findings.

The IAEA launched the OSART programme in 1982 and currently conducts six to eight OSART missions annually. It said it is continuously improving the programme by expanding the scope of the review, updating the review methodology, revising relevant IAEA safety standards and enlarging the pool of national experts to participate in the reviews. The IAEA also cooperates with organisations such as the World Association of Nuclear Operators to coordinate peer review missions and optimise the resources needed to host these.

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

OSART reviews are not regulatory inspections to determine compliance with national safety requirements, and nor do they attempt to evaluate a plant's overall safety performance. OSART missions are designed to assist nuclear operators in strengthening the operational safety of nuclear power plants through the identification of areas that could be improved and the formulation of corresponding proposals, the IAEA said.

"The strong commitment to improvement we find in follow-up missions illustrates just how effective OSART missions are in supporting Member States' work to enhance safety performance," said Greg Rzentkowski, director of Nuclear Installation Safety at the IAEA. "We encourage all Member States operating nuclear power plants to use this service, and in particular those that have not hosted a mission in recent years, to continuously improve nuclear safety."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News