Swedish regulator calls for national strategy

26 September 2018

National coordination is needed for long-term knowledge management in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has told the government.

The Ringhals nuclear power plant (Image: Vattenfall)

In December 2016, SSM was tasked by the government to look into long-term knowledge management. The investigation included studying the prerequisites for maintaining national competence in SSM's area of responsibility, identifying key stakeholders' assumptions for recruitment of staff, identifying sources of research funding, and finding ways to collaborate on future areas of investment.

SSM director Anneli Hällgren said, "Getting an overview of, and gaining control over, the knowledge management framework for securing competence in the areas relating to radiation are both difficult tasks. The areas of nuclear safety and radiation protection have mixed characteristics, and the areas of knowledge are spread amongst several scientific disciplines."

The SSM concluded that the system for knowledge management in nuclear safety and radiation protection needs to be strengthened in order for it to retain its competences.

To strengthen the knowledge management system, SSM says that a comprehensive national strategy is required with coordinated efforts for achieving a higher level of effectiveness.

"A number of areas of research that are critical to society are currently underfunded, and education programmes relating to radiation safety are in jeopardy," Hällgren said. These are some of the root causes of this vulnerability in the knowledge management system."

SSM said there needs to be increased funding for a "critical core" of research environments in order to ensure an ongoing and minimum level of scientific expertise. "Such expertise is to have insight into the activities and practices involving radiation conducted in Sweden," it said. This is in parallel with increased funding for related research environments.

SSM also called for formalised interactions between stakeholders in the system for central government research funding to guarantee that the relevant research environments are sustained. It also said the availability of nuclear safety and radiation protection education programmes that are "critical to society" should be guaranteed.

Several stakeholders should perform informative action and run campaigns for the purpose of attracting students so that they enrol in nuclear safety and radiation protection programmes, and choose occupations in the field, it added.

SSM submitted its report to the government on 24 September.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News