EU, IAEA extend cooperation in nuclear safety

22 September 2021

The European Union (EU) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have extended a 2013 agreement to cooperate on nuclear safety. Their cooperation has already led to over one hundred nuclear safety review missions, environmental remediation at former uranium sites in Central Asia and more effective radioactive waste management in Africa.

Massimo Garribba of the European Commission and Lydie Evrard of the IAEA (Image: C Silva Villareal)

Meeting on the margins of this week's 65th IAEA General Conference, the two sides extended their 2013 cooperation agreement on the safe management of radioactive waste, regulatory arrangements, safety reviews and assessments, emergency preparedness and response, environmental remediation and the development and application of IAEA Safety Standards.

"This joint decision today will help maintain the momentum we have built on our past joint achievements and we look forward to working with the EU to continue addressing global nuclear safety challenges together," said IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security Lydie Evrard.

Massimo Garribba, Deputy Director General of the European Commission's Energy Directorate-General welcomed the added value of the new agreement, and "looked forward to a further deepening of cooperation in nuclear safety, including in the field of peer review missions."

In June 2013, the IAEA and European Commission signed a new contribution agreement under the 2012 Annual Action Programme of the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation. Under the agreement, the EC agreed to make a contribution of EUR9.26 million to the IAEA, which would be used by the Agency's technical cooperation (TC) programme and by the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security (NS) to support nuclear safety projects. This contribution supported the EC's overarching goal of promoting nuclear and radiation safety around the world. It was to cover a total of 13 TC projects and 10 NS projects.

The EU has supported the development of peer review services like the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) and the Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS). In turn, these reviews have enabled compliance of EU countries with their obligations under the EU Nuclear Safety and Waste Directives. Since 2013, 116 IRRS missions and 12 ARTEMIS missions have been carried out to assess regulatory practices and radioactive waste and used fuel management.

In Central Asia, the IAEA has provided expert advice in environmental remediation to countries affected by the legacy of uranium mining. These legacy sites, operational until the 1990s, present a potential threat to the health of the local population and the environment.

In Africa, EU/IAEA cooperation enabled the implantation of projects to enhance the safety of research reactors and more effective radioactive waste management.

Countries in the Mediterranean that are not EU Member States received support to strengthen their coastal emergency preparedness and response arrangements in case of radiological emergencies, as well as the full control of radioactive sources during and after their operations, under what is known as the 'cradle to grave' approach.

Through EU funding, the IAEA has also successfully implemented the International School of Nuclear and Radiological Leadership for Safety. Courses were held in Brazil, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, training future leaders in nuclear safety throughout the world.

"Thanks to EU funding, the IAEA has responded to a high number of requests from countries looking for a tailored review of their national practices against the IAEA Safety Standards," Evrard said. "The follow up actions implemented by the countries we visited have contributed to improving global nuclear safety."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News