IAEA and WANO agree to closer ties

07 April 2017

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) have agreed to enhance cooperation to strengthen nuclear operational safety and to support countries that are planning or considering launching nuclear power programs.

Representatives of the two organisations met at a side event to the Seventh Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), the IAEA said yesterday. The convention is being held at the IAEA's Vienna headquarters and is due to end today.

"Our activities are complementary in nature and are bound by a common interest in keeping nuclear energy safe," Greg Rzentkowski, the IAEA's director of nuclear installation safety, said. "For example, we both respond to existing and emerging challenges such as the need for harmonised approaches to strong safety culture implementation for both operators and regulators as well as support to countries new to nuclear power."

WANO CEO Peter Prozesky said both the IAEA and WANO work to promote a strong safety culture in nuclear power, and both needed to work with newcomer countries and countries that are rapidly expanding their nuclear power programs, to ensure that new units will meet the same standards of excellence as existing ones.

"The IAEA has a stronger role to play in the early establishment of the capacity of a country to begin a new program, and WANO engages at the time that an operator has embarked on the build of a new plant," he said. "We collaborate to help prospective new-build players create the appropriate infrastructure, skills and processes that will ensure safe operation."

WANO is a non-profit member organisation that works to maximise nuclear power plant safety and reliability by enabling operators to work together to assess, benchmark and improve performance through mutual support, information exchange and the sharing of best practices. Every company in the world that operates nuclear power facilities is a member of the organisation, the strict external confidentiality policy of which encourages full and frank internal information exchange between operators, WANO said.

The IAEA is the intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in nuclear technology, and is an autonomous organisation under the United Nations.

Both bodies offer peer review services to nuclear operators. WANO's peer review program helps its members compare their operational performance against standards of excellence through an in-depth, objective review of their operations by an independent team external to their utility. The IAEA offers its members a wide array of review services, including its Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) program. This assists member states in strengthening the safety of their nuclear power plants during commissioning and operation, by comparing actual practices with IAEA safety standards and making suggestions for improvement where appropriate. OSART missions are carried out by international, multidisciplinary expert teams including peers from nuclear power plants, but also from regulatory bodies or technical support organisations.

Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA deputy director general and head of the agency's Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, said sharing resources and avoiding the duplication of effort was an "important enabler of more effective peer review services," while WANO chairman Jacques Regaldo said increasing the efficiency of reviews will be particularly important as the number of nuclear facilities worldwide increases. "By 2030, half of the nuclear power reactors will be based in Asia, and we will have many newcomers to nuclear power," he said. "There is real value for WANO to work together with the IAEA and others to help maximise the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants."

In 2012 the two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance their cooperation, including participation in each other's safety review missions, common working groups to provide emergency response support, and jointly organised workshops and meetings to facilitate the exchange of experiences, good practice and lessons learned among operators and regulators.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News