Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Austria
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Agenda Item 3a: Measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety

IAEA Board of Governors: 11 September 2017

Statement by Dr Kath Smith, Alternate Resident Representative to the IAEA

Agenda Item 3a: Measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety

 

Thank you Chair,

Australia welcomes the report of the Director General, Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety.  The work of the Agency in this field remains of high importance to Australia and we thank DDG Lentijo for his introductory remarks.

 

Chair,

The Agency's safety standards are a major part of a rigorous international nuclear safety framework for the application and use of nuclear energy and technology. To this end, Australia welcomes the two Safety Requirements and two Safety Guides that were issued in the reporting period. Australia encourages the continuing efforts of the Commission on Safety Standards and five Safety Standards Committees. We also endorse the concept and work of the Interface Group, responsible for dealing with safety-security interface issues in the IAEA Safety Standards Series and the IAEA Nuclear Security Series documents.

Australia welcomes the close collaborative relationship between the Agency and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and the Agency's involvement in the activities of the International Commission on Radiological Protection and encourages the Agency to continue this valuable engagement.

 

Chair,

Australia strongly supports the Agency's role in promoting the safe management of radioactive waste.  We were honoured that the CEO of our regulator ARPANSA, Dr. Carl-Magnus Larsson, was invited to be the Chair of the IAEA International Conference on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management which was held in November last year. The conference was attended by 276 participants from 63 countries, and underlined the importance of: national planning for radioactive waste management including post-accident waste management; operational safety; safety culture; the optimisation of radiation protection systems; and communication between regulators’, operators and all other interested parties

In line with our leading role in radioactive waste management, Australia is planning to build the first industrial-scale facility for the treatment of liquid intermediate level waste arising from the production of molybdenum-99. When this facility comes on line in 2019, it will further demonstrate the viability of Australia’s Synroc technology as a modern, stable, low-volume waste form.

The Australian Government is continuing its community consultations and the assessment of potential sites for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility for the disposal of low level waste and for the storage of intermediate level waste. In this context, Australia is in discussion with the Agency about the appropriate time for an ARTEMIS peer review focused on aspects pertinent to the proposed facility.

More broadly, Australia acknowledges the important role played by the Agency's peer review services in ensuring nuclear safety world-wide.  We appreciate the ongoing work to improve its effectiveness and efficiency of these services. Australia will receive a full-scope Integrated Regulatory Review Service ‘IRRS’ mission in 2018, with the participation of not only the Commonwealth regulator ARPANSA, but also regulators from each of our six states and two territories.

 

Chair,

Australia commends the efforts of the Agency in encouraging Member States to become Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (the CNS). We also commend the Agency for its successful organisation of the Seventh Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the CNS, in March-April 2017. Australia was pleased to note that the majority of Contracting Parties, including Australia, reported that they currently reflect the principles of the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety in their activities. Australia was pleased to have four areas of good performance recognised during the Review Meeting.

Australia supports the Agency's engagement with other relevant international organisations including the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the World Association of Nuclear Operators, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and the World Nuclear Association.

Australia participated in the IAEA International Meeting on Application of the Code of Conduct on the Safety of Research Reactors in May 2017 and is happy to support the Agency's wider work in the area of the safety of research reactors. To that end, we look forward to hosting an Agency Workshop entitled ‘Safety Reassessment of Research Reactors in Light of Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Daiichi Accident’ in December this year.  The Workshop will be held in conjunction with the 18th Conference of the International Group on Research Reactors.

Australia notes that around the world there are many projects to construct, deploy and sell small, medium-sized nuclear reactors and transportable nuclear power plants. Consequently we are pleased to note that the Agency has been conducting work to assess the applicability of current guidance to these types of reactors and has established a Small Modular Reactor Regulators' Forum. We look forward to the outcomes of such work.

 

Chair,

Australia endorses the Agency's ongoing work and activities on safety in uranium mining and processing, decommissioning and environmental remediation. In this context, we were pleased to make significant contributions to the development of the draft Safety Report entitled Occupational Radiation Protection in Uranium Mining and Processing Industry that was submitted for publication in April 2017.

Australia also is actively supportive of the Agency’s work on emergency preparedness and response (EPR). We participated in the Convex-3 exercise in June 2017, and found it to be useful for testing national radiological emergency procedures. We will promote best practice emergency response and preparedness in our region by hosting a regional workshop on revised safety requirements in Melbourne in October 2017. Australia acknowledges Indonesia’s proactive attitude to EPR, in being the first country to have an Emergency Preparedness Review Mission against the new GSR Part 7 in September 2016.  We were pleased to participate in that mission.

 

Chair,

Australia strongly supports the Agency’s work in the field of civil liability for nuclear damage, and the work of the International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability (INLEX). We welcome references in the Director General’s report this year to both the topics and outcomes of INLEX’s deliberations. We look forward to this practice continuing in future years.

 

Chair,

With these comments, the Australian delegation takes note of the Director General’s report on Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety.

 

Thank you, Chair.