IAEA Board of Governors
7-11 September 2015
Statement by HE Mr David Stuart, Resident Representative to the IAEA
Agenda Item 3: Nuclear Safety
Thank you Madam Chair,
Australia welcomes the report of the Director General, Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety. We also welcome the report on Progress in the Implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and its Supplementary Information. The work of the Agency in this field remains of high importance to Australia and we thank DDG Flory for his introductory remarks, as well as the detailed briefing session provided by the Secretariat on 31 August.
The past year has seen three significant milestones in the Agency’s work on nuclear safety, particularly in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in 2011. Four years ago, the Agency instigated the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety to refocus international efforts in this important area and identify lessons learned from the accident. The report on Progress in the Implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and its Supplementary Information document shows that substantial progress has been made in addressing the twelve programmatic areas under the Plan. We also note that this will be the last such report on the Action Plan as its remaining activities are integrated into the Agency’s normal program of work. As we have indicated previously, Australia sees this as appropriate and necessary to ensure that the lessons learned over the past four years are appropriately reflected into the Agency’s work, and ultimately used to improve the international nuclear safety framework. We take this opportunity to thank all those involved in implementation of the Action Plan over these past four years for their hard work.
The second milestone is the release of the Director General’s report on the Fukushima accident. As we noted in June, this report, along with its five technical volumes, represents a thorough, objective and factual analysis of the causes and consequences of, and lessons learnt from, the accident. We again encourage all Member States to use the report’s findings as part of their efforts in continuous improvement of nuclear safety.
The third nuclear safety milestone this year was the Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety held here in Vienna in February 2015, leading to the adoption of the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety. By adopting this important document, the Contracting Parties to the CNS reconfirmed their commitment to the CNS as the preeminent international legal instrument for promoting a high level of nuclear safety worldwide. We encourage all Member States using or considering using nuclear power to become parties to the CNS, as well as implement the principles outlined in the Vienna Declaration in their national legislative and regulatory frameworks.
While these milestones are significant, they should be seen as steps on a continuing path. There can be no complacency when it comes to nuclear safety. In this regard, we look forward to the Secretariat continuing to keep Member States informed of developments in nuclear safety as a matter of priority.
The Agency’s safety standards remain 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 eleven safety standards that were issued in the reporting period, as well as the approval by this Board of six revised Safety Requirements in March 2015. We note and encourage the continuing efforts of the Commission on Safety Standards and the four Safety Standards Committees to review the Safety Guides in a prioritised process.
Australia continues to place a high importance on the safe and secure use of radioactive sources. 125 States have now made a political commitment to the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, with 94 states also committing to the Supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources. Given the wide use of radioactive sources, we encourage more Member States to commit to the Code.
One area of particular concern to Australia is the long-term management of disused sources. We are therefore pleased to note that the Secretariat held an open-ended meeting last October to discuss that issue, with a follow-up meeting planned for December this year.
Our delegation also takes this opportunity to note the work of INLEX on the issue of insurance of high-activity radioactive sources. The international community has been deliberating for some time now as how to best handle indemnity issues arising from possible accidents with such sources. At its meeting in May this year, INLEX recommended that licences for high-activity radioactive sources include a requirement that insurance or other financial security be obtained by the licensee. Australia is currently considering how to implement this recommendation and we encourage other Member States to make similar efforts.
We note that the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage – the CSC – came into force in April this year and we congratulate those Member States whose ratification of the Convention made this possible. Australia played a pivotal role in the development and adoption of the CSC and was one of the first to sign it. We believe that the CSC is a central element of a future global nuclear liability regime. Although Australia does not utilise nuclear power we are considering ratification of this important Convention.
Australia also notes that the Agency continued its collaboration with the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) on, inter alia, the assessment of public exposure from nuclear facilities. We encourage the Agency to continue its collaboration in this regard, in particular in relation to UNSCEAR’s finalisation of its report on radiation exposures from electricity generation
Australia continues to support the Agency’s role in promoting safe management of radioactive waste. We were an active participant in the Fifth Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention held here in Vienna in May, where we were awarded a “Good Practice” for the continued development of a novel waste form, Synroc. Specifically, Australia is currently building 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, it will further demonstrate the viability of Synroc as a modern, stable, low-volume waste form.
Australia is also continuing its assessment of potential sites for a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility for the disposal of low and intermediate level waste. As part of this process, Australia is currently engaging with the IAEA on the possibility of conducting one of the first ARTEMIS peer review service missions. Australia has been and remains a strong supporter of the IAEA peer review services as a means for improving nuclear and radiation safety, and we look forward to benefiting from the IAEA’s expertise in this new service.
As a leading supplier of uranium, Australia recognises the importance of establishing good practice in uranium mining. In this capacity, we will continue to actively participate in bodies such as the International Working Forum for Regulatory Supervision of Legacy Sites, the Uranium Mines Remediation Exchange Group, and the joint NEA-IAEA Uranium Group. Australia will also again co-host a side-event meeting of the Vienna-based Friends of Responsible Uranium Mining initiative during next week’s General Conference, on the topic of “Meeting Challenges of Competing Stakeholders’ Expectations”. The event will take place on Wednesday, 16 September, and we invite interested representatives from all Member States to attend this event.
With these comments, the Australian delegation takes note of the Director General’s reports on Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety and on the Implementation of the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and its Supplementary Information.
Thank you, Madam Chair.