IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
Statements by Dr Kath Smith, Alternate Resident Representative to the IAEA
Agenda Item 2a: Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety
Agenda Item 2b: Draft Safety Requirements: Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, 2018 Edition
5 March 2018
Thank you, Chair.
Australia thanks Deputy Director General Lentijo for his introductory remarks to this agenda item and the Secretariat for the informal technical briefing it hosted on 12 February. We welcome the opportunity to comment on the Director General’s report Nuclear Safety Review 2018 (GOV/2018/4), which outlines the trends, issues and challenges in nuclear safety, the Agency’s efforts to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework over the last year and the priorities for 2018; and its identification of a set of general priorities for strengthening nuclear safety, as well as priorities for various thematic areas of the Agency’s work. Australia also welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft Safety Requirements: Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, 2018 Edition, as provided in document GOV/2018/3.
Australia is a contracting party to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Early Notification and Assistance Conventions. We endorse the objectives of and strongly adhere to the requirements of these Conventions and encourage other nations to do likewise. Consequently we are pleased to see that in 2018 the Agency proposes to continue to promote universal adherence to the international safety conventions.
Australia is honoured that Geoff Williams of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) was selected as one of the two Vice-Presidents of the 6th Review Meeting of the Joint Convention which will be held in Vienna from 21 May to 1 June. We recognise the enormous amount of work being done by Contracting Parties to peer review National Reports in advance of the Meeting, and look forward to the active participation of all Contracting Parties at the Meeting, especially to identify best practices in waste management.
Australia was pleased to see that the Agency has now completed the revision of all the Safety Requirements to take into account lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. We consider the Safety Fundamentals, Requirements and Guides to be living documents which should be periodically reviewed. We are also pleased that the Agency continues to assist Member States, upon request, to implement these documents.
Australia welcomes the draft Safety Requirements: Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, 2018 Edition, as provided in document GOV/2018/3. We actively participated in the development of the revised requirements and are satisfied with the outcome.
Australia supports the strengthening of the Agency’s peer review and advisory services and will be hosting its second full-scope Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission in 2018. This IRRS mission will also include participation by Australian States and Territories. Although this is second time that sub-national jurisdictions have been included in an IRRS mission, this is the largest multi-jurisdictional mission yet undertaken. Our States and territories are responsible for the regulation of the use of radioactive sources in industry, healthcare and education.
Australia recognises both the broad global interest in small and medium-sized or modular reactors, SMRs, and the interest several Member States have shown in transportable nuclear power plants. We note the work done by the IAEA to help identify, understand and address key regulatory matters associated with the deployment of SMRs. Australia also notes and attaches importance to the Agency’s work in the preparation of a strategic approach regarding transportable reactors and in that regard welcomes interaction between the IAEA and the IMO to define roles and responsibilities. Given that press releases suggest that the first transportable nuclear power plant will be commissioned in 2019, Australia requests that the Secretariat provide a briefing for Member States on their work in this area in the lead up to the June or September Board of Governors meetings.
Australia is pleased to note that the Agency finalized the Guidance on the Management of Disused Radioactive Sources, supplementary to the Code of Conduct on the Safety of Radioactive Sources which was approved by the Board of Governors and endorsed by the General Conference in September 2017. We believe this constitutes a great step forward for global safety and security. Our delegation also acknowledges the work the Agency does in promoting the Code of Conduct and in assisting Member States to implement the Code.
Australia has had an active and successful research reactor program for over 60 years, with our current reactor, OPAL, running safely and effectively for over 300 days for each of the last three calendar years. OPAL’s predictable performance allows Australia to reliably meet a substantial amount of the global demand for the medical isotope molybdenum-99.
The management of research reactors as a high priority for Australia, both to ensure nuclear safety and to provide security of the global supply chain for medical isotopes. Australia conducts periodic safety and security reviews of its research reactor and nuclear medicine and waste management facilities, to ensure compliance with international best practice, and strongly encourages other Member States to adopt this practice. In this context, Australia was pleased: to participate in the 4th triennial International Meeting on the Application of the Code of Conduct on the Safety of Research Reactors in Vienna, in May 2017 and, with the IAEA, organise and host the 18th International Group on Research Reactors (IGORR) Conference in December 2017 and a Regional Workshop on the Regulatory Inspection Programmes for Research Reactors in February 2018.
Our delegation notes the 2018 Nuclear Safety Review’s discussion of the ongoing demand from Member States for technical assistance and advice in strengthening national and regional Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) arrangements. Australia is a registered user of the Unified System for Information Exchange in Incidents and Emergencies (USIE) and has registered its national assistance capabilities in the IAEA Response and Assistance Network (RANET). We encourage other Member States to benefit from these useful platforms. Australia also participates in national and regional emergency response exercises and promotes the significant benefits such activities provide.
Australia endorses the Agency’s intentions: to implement an active exercise programme to test EPR at the international level; to further develop operational arrangements for notification, for reporting and for requesting assistance in an emergency; and to assist Member States in the implementation of IAEA Safety Standard GSR Part 7 Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency.
Australia considers that nuclear safety and security have the common goal of ensuring the protection of people, society and the environment. Consequently we were pleased to be informed that the Agency “Interface Group” has completed its work in identifying safety-security interfaces in 12 specified Agency publications and that the safety standards and security guidance committees are working to ensure that their current and future publications adequately address safety and security interface issues. Australia also notes with approval that the Agency has conducted two international workshops which addressed the interface between nuclear security measures and emergency response arrangements.
Our delegation notes the Review’s discussion of the activities of INLEX. In that regard, we welcome the Agency’s facilitation of the establishment of a global nuclear liability regime and its intent, upon request, to assist Member States in their efforts to adhere to and implement the international nuclear liability instruments. We also look forward to advice on the results of INLEX’s discussions in areas such as liability for radioactive waste disposal facilities and coverage of risks arising from the manufacture, use and storage of radioactive sources.
With these comments, the Australian delegation takes note of document (GOV/2018/4).
Thank you Chair.