Nuclear safety in EU gets strong boost by commitment of nuclear regulators

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Source: European Commission

Nuclear safety regulators from all 27 EU Member States have reached agreement on steps to further strengthen nuclear safety, radioactive waste management and decommissioning arrangements in EU. These areas are under the jurisdiction of individual countries and as part of their continuous self improvement drive they are seeking better ways to learn from each other. At the meeting of the European High Level Group on Nuclear Safety and Waste Management on Friday, 30th May 2008, all delegates (mainly nuclear regulators) have committed themselves for further improvements, viz: All member states are already signatories of Nuclear Safety Convention and nearly all of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, which set basic rules for arrangements in these areas. EU participating Member States regulators have committed themselves to openly exchange all the information emerging from the review process under these conventions. In addition, common lessons learned will be sought to enhance nuclear safety or radioactive waste management arrangements in all EU Members States based on eventual findings in each of them.
  • EU Members states regulators will invite IAEA peer review teams to thoroughly review arrangements in their regulatory bodies and seek areas where lessons can be learnt from international best practice and identify areas of good practice. IAEA peer reviews (called IRRS) are well established processes, which are initiated voluntarily by the reviewed country. By their decision last Friday, EU Member States regulators have made such invitation mandatory by common agreement. It was recognised that completing such a programme across all Member States may take some years given the resources available to the IAEA and the worldwide need. Hence, it was also agreed that in the meantime all Member States would undertake a self assessment against the IAEA standards, inviting suitable experts from other EU Member States as appropriate.
  • Regulators have agreed to working together to further improve radioactive waste and spent fuel management practices in the EU, to strengthen co-operation, and to monitor the enhancement of the financing of decommissioning safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. In the months to come discussions in the High Level Group should be held on establishment and implementation of radioactive waste management plan in all EU Member states.
  • Regulators agreed to improve the transparency of their work and make it more open to the general public. In the months to come a web page should be established on EU level simplifying the access to relevant data about nuclear safety in all EU Member States.

Nuclear regulators have also discussed the implications of any potential EU common rules in their area. International conventions and safety standards require responsibility for nuclear safety on individual countries including the establishment of an appropriate regulatory system. Such regulatory systems already exist in every EU nuclear Member State. It has been recognized that the EU citizen should be guaranteed that the best nuclear safety standards and a responsible management of radioactive waste are implemented everywhere in Europe. The High Level Group has initiated a detailed study to find pros and cons of potential other common arrangements to inform any future decisions.

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