IAEA notes strengthened safety inspections in Japan

21 January 2020

Japan has strengthened inspections as part of extensive efforts in recent years to improve its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) peer review mission has concluded. The team identified areas for further improvement, recommending measures on occupational radiation protection and transport safety.

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team today concluded an eight-day follow-up mission to review Japan's implementation of recommendations and suggestions made during a previous IRRS mission in 2016. The scope of the latest mission also included the responsibilities and functions of the government and the regulatory body, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). In addition, the team was also requested by Japan to review safety related to the transportation of nuclear material.

"Japan has made considerable headway. The NRA has taken many steps to enhance its regulatory programmes," said team leader Ramzi Jammal, executive vice-president and chief regulatory operations officer in the regulatory operations branch of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

The mission team concluded that the NRA had established an inspection programme with increased powers to access nuclear facilities, including the right to carry out unannounced inspections. In addition, it has introduced a systematic process to regularly review and update safety regulations and guidance documents. Regarding transport safety, the team noted that Japan generally implements regulations in line with IAEA standards, but recommended periodic exercises to test emergency response arrangements, as well as an extension of inspection programmes to cover all types of packages used to transport radioactive material.

Areas identified for improvement include that the NRA fully implements its new integrated management system and that it further strengthens its regulatory oversight of radiation protection for workers.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News