FAQ

Can nuclear technologies be safely managed in developing countries?

Answer

All countries having already nuclear programs or embarking on them are parties to the Nuclear Safety Convention. They all request safety review services to evaluate the safety of their installations, they exchange openly operating experience and co-operative agreements. They give transfer of technology and training courses especially on safety and security. They all participate in meetings for continuously improve safety; regulators do the same in order to harmonize their approach.

Background

The existing worldwide fleet of nuclear power plants is located in both developed, developing countries. At present all nuclear countries have ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety, an international instrument of great value for continuously improving safety of all the nuclear installations. Through its obligations, its peer reviews every 3 years and its incentive character, the Convention has demonstrated an increase of the level of safety in all contracting countries. The review itself is based on IAEA safety standards as a reference level and on results of international “peer reviews” by international organisations (IAEA safety review services for example).
Peer reviews can be conducted on the regulatory organisation, on design (general ones or specific aspects like siting, external events, defence in depth etc), on commissioning of NPPs, on operating installations NPPs or fuel cycle facilities, on safety culture, on ageing management and periodic safety reviews, on transport, on decommissioning, on wastes conditioning and treatment, and on wastes storage and disposal. The reviews rely on safety standards and on recognized good practices as references for judging the safety. The review team is composed of peer experts coming from various countries.
New reactors have included many safety aspects in their design features while in the existing reactors these are covered by added technical or administrative measures. A good example is a core catcher or equivalent for beyond design accidents called severe accidents.
Finally, for ensuring safety at all stages of the life time of a reactor, general and specialized safety training courses have been developed for educating all the engineers and workers needed for the new redeployment of nuclear energy. On the job training as well as simulator training is a current practice and will continue to be essential.
In the countries themselves, the regulator has to establish strong regulations, inspection programmes announced or not, and to have the power to take sanctions (even shutdown of reactor) or measures to maintain a high level of safety, in full independence from the builder, the operating organisation and from the government.
Agreements for co-operation with other countries are also an excellent tool for exchanging information, safety good practices and experience.
 
All the described facts ensure in all countries a high level of safety.
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