IAEA Board of Governors Meeting: 7-11 March 2016
Statement by HE Mr David Stuart, Resident Representative to the IAEA
Agenda Item 2
Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety
Thank you, Chair,
Australia appreciates the important work completed under the “IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety”. We acknowledge both the protracted effort this has entailed and the many important outputs produced. These include:
- the reviewed Safety Requirements for: Nuclear Power Plants, the Storage of Spent Fuel, and Emergency Preparedness and Response;
- the reports on the “lessons learned” from the Fukushima Daiichi Accident, which are based on the Agency’s analysis of a formidable amount of technical data; and
- the Director General’s comprehensive report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, supported by five Technical Volumes.
With regard to the 2016 Review findings on research reactor safety: Australia has enjoyed the research and public health benefits of a well-run, active and productive research reactor program for over 60 years. We endorse, and have been active participants in the Agency’s activities to improve Research Reactor safety, including missions, conferences, expert meetings and the development of publications and standards.
Additionally, to ensure our national nuclear safety infrastructure and practices remain aligned with international good practice, Australia has requested and the IAEA has agreed to organise two review missions to Australia. In 2017, the IAEA will coordinate an ARTEMIS mission to Australia which will undertake an integrated review of Australia’s radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning and remediation programs and then in 2018 the IAEA will coordinate an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission. This will be Australia’s third IRRS mission following reviews in 2007 and 2011.
Australia continues to see management of ageing research reactors as a high priority, both to ensure nuclear safety and to provide sustainability of the global supply chain for medical radioisotopes. The findings of the Agency’s 2016 Review indicate that due to limitations in human and financial resources, some research reactor organizations have not yet addressed the relevant lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Australia strongly urges all Member States which own, operate or regulate research reactors to ensure that research reactor organisations have appropriate and sufficient monitoring oversight, maintenance programs, and resources to provide for their safe and reliable operation over the long term.
Australia also encourages all Member States that operate nuclear power reactors to ratify the Convention on Nuclear Safety, if they have not already done so.
Our delegation notes that the Review again highlights the safety risk posed by disused radioactive sources at the end of their useful life. We are pleased that the Review finds that, ”return to supplier” through contractual arrangements made at the time of acquisition is now the norm, but the report also points to the ongoing problem of management of sources for which such agreements do not exist or where return is not possible because of the lack of suitably certified transport containers or similar issues.
To this end, Australia is pleased that the Agency organised a second open-ended meeting in December 2015 to discuss the development of guidance for implementing the provisions of the Code of Conduct (on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources) in relation to the long term management of disused sources. We look forward to the third meeting in late June, and to the supplementary guidance to the Code of Conduct. We also look forward to the Open-ended Meeting of Technical and Legal Experts to Share Information on States’ Implementation of the Code of Conduct and its Supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources, which will be held in late May.
Our delegation notes with approval the Agency’s response to Member States’ increased interest in strengthening national and regional emergency preparedness and response capabilities. Australia is a registered user of the Unified System for Information Exchange in Incidents and Emergencies (USIE) emergency communication platform, has registered its national assistance capabilities in the IAEA Response and Assistance Network (RANET) and participates in national and regional emergency preparedness and response exercises. We encourage other Member States to benefit from these useful platforms.
Australia also notes with approval the Agency’s initiatives to improve management of the interface between nuclear safety and security. As the Agency points out, nuclear safety and security have the common goal of ensuring the protection of people, society and the environment, but sometimes their plans for implementation differ.
Australia continues to see the entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) as a priority and encourages countries to ratify the Amendment, if they have not already done so. We congratulate Cote d’Ivoire for depositing its instrument of approval of the Amendment, and look forward to further good news on this front.
Australia notes that the Agency recognises Computer Security as one of the safety-security interface areas, and is pleased, that in 2015 and 2016, it has been able to provide Australian experts to assist Agency efforts to develop guidance in this area.
Another significant dimension of promoting nuclear safety is the work of the Agency and INLEX to facilitate the establishment of a global nuclear liability regime, as called for in resolution GC(59)/RES/9. We also welcome the entry into force of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for nuclear damage on 15 April 2015, and look forward to wider adherence to the modernised conventions on nuclear liability in the years to come.
- acknowledges the comprehensive suite of nuclear safety guidance documents that the Agency has developed;
- endorses the Agency’s plans for the ongoing revision, improvement and augmentation of that suite of documents;
- notes with approval the establishment of a new Emergency Preparedness and Response Standards Committee (EPReSC); and
- encourages the Agency’s activities to ensure the integration of its Safety, Security and, Emergency Preparedness and Response guidance documentation.
As a final point, nuclear safety is the responsibility of us, the Member States, so we encourage all Member States to renew their commitment to implementing all of the IAEA Safety Standards and to utilise the Agency-coordinated reviews of implementation of the Safety Standards relevant to their national programmes.
With these comments, the Australian delegation takes note of the Director General’s Safety Review 2016, GOV/2016/2.
Thank you Chair.