The IAEA shared with Member State representatives its revised guidelines on Operational Safety Review Missions (OSARTs) at an event on the sidelines of its 60th General Conference today.
The revised guidelines include 15 operational safety review themes and reflect lessons learned from the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
“The staff operating nuclear power plants should be prepared to mitigate severe accidents and scenarios to minimize any potential consequences,” said Vesselina Ranguelova, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA. “The prime responsibility for the safe operation rests with the operating organization whose staff has to be qualified in order to implement adequate safety measures for both normal operation and accident conditions.”
OSART missions provide advice and assistance to Member States in improving the safety of nuclear power plants during commissioning, operation and the transitional period to decommissioning.
Since 1982, the IAEA has conducted 188 OSART missions, with 128 missions in Europe, 30 in Asia, 18 in North America, eight in South America and four in Africa. Review areas have included leadership and management for safety, training, operation, maintenance, radiation protection, chemistry, emergency preparedness and response, accident management, human technology and organization interactions, among others.
Follow-up missions, which typically take place 18 months after the initial mission, evaluate progress in resolving previously identified suggestions for operational safety improvements. More than 95% of recommendations and suggestions in the last 10 years have been implemented, Ranguelova said.
In 2015, Canada invited an OSART mission to review one of its nuclear power plants, Bruce Power. Based on the review, the IAEA released a report in 2016, which was communicated to the public, employees, communities and interested stakeholders. It identified 10 good practices, five recommendations and 12 suggestions, according to James Scongack, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Bruce Power and a speaker at the event.
“The OSART mission provided Bruce Power with a unique opportunity to communicate and engage openly with the public, communities and other interested stakeholders to build increased confidence in the safe operation of the facility,” Scongack said. “OSART missions are an important tool to build public confidence in the safety of nuclear power.”
The importance of a safety culture
Based on its safety guidelines, the IAEA defines a strong safety culture as a framework of characteristics and attitudes that make safety considerations a key priority in the development of a nuclear power programme.
“A culture of safety is dependent on leadership and management principles that rest on a clear acceptance of responsibility for safety,” said Helen Rycraft, Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA.
Rycraft, who shared with Member States IAEA’s new publication on Leadership and Management for Safety, maintained that as the responsibility for safety rests with the person or organization responsible for activities that give rise to radiation risks, it is of paramount importance that such facilities demonstrate the leadership and management necessary to foster a strong safety culture.
The new OSART guidelines were revised in 2016 with financial support from the European Commission under the Peaceful Uses Initiative.
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency.