(1) Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) As of March 2017, there are eighty-one contracting parties and sixty-five signatories to the CNS. In March 2017, Myanmar and Niger became signatories to the convention. Montenegro acceded to the convention on 3 March 2017, and its entry into force is expected soon. (A) Seventh Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the CNS The contracting parties to the CNS met at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, from 27 March to 7 April 2017 for the seventh Review Meeting of the contracting parties to the CNS (summary report is available at < https://www.ns.iaea.org/downloads/ni/safety_convention/7th-review-meeting/17-08671e_cns7rm2017_08.pdf>). The meeting witnessed the highest level of participation to date by contracting parties. Seventy-seven of the eighty contracting parties participated. The summary report states that, among the contracting parties, thirty-two have nuclear power plants (NPPs) in operation; a further two have NPPs under construction; and forty-six have no NPPs. All of the contracting parties except Libya submitted their national reports. Twenty-one of the contracting parties, at the time of the Review Meeting, had made their national reports publicly available on the IAEA website; several other contracting parties also published their national reports on their national public websites. National reports available at the IAEA website are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States. As per the stated practice, ‘all National Reports will be posted on the IAEA website 90 days following the adjournment of the Review Meeting unless an objection is received from a Contracting Party in respect of its National Report’ (<https://www.ns.iaea.org/downloads/ni/safety_convention/7th-review-meeting/17-08671e_cns7rm2017_08.pdf>). The tentative schedule for the eighth Review Meeting in 2020 was also agreed to during the meeting. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, while delivering the opening statement, observed that: [e]very country that uses nuclear technology has a responsibility to create a robust framework for safety and security. This is a national responsibility that cannot be outsourced. But effective international cooperation is also essential. The IAEA has a vital role to play in enabling countries to share experiences and best practices. During the presentations of individual country reports and subsequent to the Country Group discussions, a list of good practices, areas of good performance, challenges and suggestions were identified. The Country Groups identified a total of four good practices, 228 challenges, fifty-five suggestions, and 188 areas of good performance. (B) Follow-up from the Sixth Review Meeting in 2014 In the summary report for the sixth Review Meeting in 2014, contracting parties agreed to address the identified challenges at the seventh Review Meeting. These challenges are: how to minimize gaps between contracting party safety improvements; how to achieve harmonized emergency plans and response measures; how to make better use of operating and regulatory experience and international peer review services; how to improve regulators’ independence, safety culture, transparency, and openness; and how to engage all countries to commit and participate in international cooperation. At the Review Meeting, it was observed that most contracting parties with NPPs addressed these challenges both explicitly and implicitly in their national reports and through the relevant articles of the convention respectively. Importantly, the contracting parties agreed that ‘these challenges no longer need to be reported on as stand-alone items as they are addressed through IAEA peer review services and other instruments, and contracting parties are required to report on these matters as appropriate in their National Reports’ (for more information, see the seventh Review Meeting Summary Report, IAEA 2017). (C) Common Issues from Country Groups Discussions At the Country Group discussions, a number of common issues emerged. Key points and principal findings from the Country Group discussions as detailed in the summary report are reproduced below (full report available at < https://www.ns.iaea.org/downloads/ni/safety_convention/7th-review-meeting/17-08671e_cns7rm2017_08.pdf>). (i) Safety culture A number of contracting parties reported progress in developing approaches to oversight of operator safety culture in regulatory body processes. However, the contracting parties noted that systematic approaches to oversight of licensee safety culture and to the embedding of processes to promote and sustain the safety culture of the regulatory body itself are not widely adopted, and further strengthening of the guidance may be needed. The contracting parties encouraged the IAEA to continue developing guidance on regulatory body oversight of licensees and also, separately, on practices to promote and sustain the regulatory body’s own safety culture. (ii) International peer reviews One of the responses to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station accident was to increase participation in international peer reviews and the exchange of information. The reviews, based on existing peer review mechanisms, have covered regulators, plant operators, designers, and other organizations. Contracting parties noted that these reviews, although of significant benefit, can be resource intensive and need to be coordinated to ensure that they do not detract from the continuing attention that the regulatory body and operator must give to operational nuclear safety. Although such peer reviews are voluntary and remain outside the convention, one of the focuses of the seventh Review Meeting has been on the national reports and encouraging them to describe the peer review missions that have been held, their findings, and the action plans created in response and how they are being implemented. (iii) Legal framework and independence of regulatory body The contracting parties noted that establishing a legislative and regulatory framework that meets the obligations of the CNS remains a challenge for some contracting parties, especially for embarking and non-NPP countries. At the sixth Review Meeting, the contracting parties reinforced the fundamental principle of effective separation between the functions of the regulatory body and those of any other body or organization concerned with the promotion or utilization of nuclear energy. Some contracting parties reported that progress towards establishing effective separation of these functions remains an issue. (iv) Financial and human resources Several contracting parties identified challenges associated with the funding and resourcing of the regulatory body. These include the absence of legislation that provides provision for adequate financial resources to enable the regulatory body to recruit and retain personnel with the necessary competencies to deliver effective regulatory capabilities. (v) Knowledge management Difficulties facing regulatory bodies and operators in finding suitably qualified and experienced persons were also reported, and, in some countries, these are exacerbated by the demographic challenge, whereby significant numbers of experienced personnel are approaching retirement age. Measures taken to establish a robust knowledge management process that contributes to mitigating the impact of loss of experience were cited by some contracting parties. (vi) Supply chain This is a common major issue both for contracting parties that operate NPPs and those that are considering embarking on a nuclear power program. For those that operate NPPs, one common issue is the availability of components to replace those that are ageing due to the non-availability of identical replacement parts from original manufacturers, obsolescence, or developments in technology. Another common issue is the need to detect non-conforming, counterfeit, suspect, or fraudulent items received from suppliers before they are installed in the plant. A further issue is the number of original tests or inspections whose results are now being called into question, raising concerns over the adequacy and reliability of the manufacturing and quality assurance processes. The diminished number of suppliers holding nuclear grade certification is also an issue, as many have allowed their certification to lapse due to a lack of business and are not willing to undergo the recertification process. Access to manufacturers who are demonstrably able to meet nuclear standards is an issue that will become more challenging as international NPP construction activities increase and contracting parties carry out safety improvements to modernize their existing installations. (vii) Managing the safety of ageing nuclear facilities and plant life extension Several contracting parties reported challenges relating to the establishment of ageing management programs. This includes the identification and implementation of reasonably practicable safety improvements and the definition of technical assessment and regulatory requirements supporting decisions regarding continued operation. Issues include determining the scope of necessary upgrades (recognizing different technologies and situations including strategic factors); maintaining the design and licensing of the knowledge base during extended plant life times; and addressing technical challenges specific to the period of extended operation, including performing appropriate research. (viii) Emergency preparedness Contracting parties noted that there has been much work since the sixth Review Meeting to learn lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station accident and incorporate improvements into national emergency preparedness and response frameworks. Contracting parties agreed that an important area warranting continued focus is the development of harmonized approaches for cross-border emergency planning zone definition and management. There was also acknowledgement of the need to further develop emergency preparedness and response measures to take account of multi-unit and external hazard events. A number of contracting parties presented their severe accident management measures, which are described in their severe accident management guidelines and procedures. The use of existing IAEA standards and guidance, as well as multi- and bilateral arrangements to coordinate and exercise emergency preparedness and response capabilities, were also advocated. (ix) Stakeholder consultation and communication Contracting parties acknowledged that open and transparent communication with the public can enhance trust in the regulatory body. This can include involvement of the public in the development of policy and regulations regarding nuclear safety infrastructure. Outreach activities by operators in local communities could also enhance public understanding of the nuclear industry. Contracting parties further noted that communication of understandable, accurate, and transparent information to the public and the decision makers during emergency situations needs to be planned and carefully considered at a time where rapid access to social media information, which may be of questionable provenance, is now widely available. The president recommended that contracting parties take these issues into account when preparing their national reports for the eighth Review Meeting. (2) Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (Joint Convention) As of March 2017, the Joint Convention consists of seventy-five contracting parties and forty-two signatories. Jordan submitted its instrument of accession on April 2016, Lesotho on September 2016, and Niger on December 2016. These entered into force in July 2016 (Jordan), December 2016 (Lesotho), and March 2017 (Niger). Madagascar acceded to the convention on March 2017, and its entry into force is expected soon. The Joint Convention was adopted in Vienna on 5 September 1997 as the first legal instrument to address the issue of spent fuel and radioactive waste management safety on a global scale. The Joint Convention does this by ‘setting international benchmarks and creating a similar “peers review” process to the Convention on Nuclear Safety’ (for more detail, see <https://www-ns.iaea.org/conventions/waste-jointconvention.asp?s=6&l=40>). The sixth Review Meeting is scheduled for May 2018. (3) Post-Fukushima Safety Developments (A) IAEA Handbook: Health in Disasters The IAEA published a new handbook that helps doctors deal with social aspects of nuclear or radiological accidents. The handbook gives an overview of general radiation history and the circumstances of the release of radiological material in Japan, addresses risk perception, advises on how best to deal with psychosomatic symptoms, and helps prepare for, and cope with, disasters and risk communication along with legal and ethical considerations (<https://humanhealth.iaea.org/HHW/Latest/Health_in_Disasters/Handbook_Health_in_Disasters.pdf>). The goal, as stated on the IAEA website, is ‘to better prepare medical staff for the unexpected, including dealing with psychological symptoms of disasters.’ The chapters are: ‘Techno-Natural Disaster and the Role of Expertise’; ‘Disease, Illness, and Sickness: A Contested Boundary’; ‘Perception of Radiation Risk: The Ethical Dimensions of Coping with Disaster’; ‘Risk Communication’; ‘Social Determinants of Health’; ‘Professionalism, Law and Ethics’; and ‘Learning across Disaster: Rebuilding Health.’ (B) Technical Meeting on Operational Experience with Implementation of Post-Fukushima Actions in Nuclear Power Plants This technical meeting, organized during March 2017, provided a forum for experts from nuclear owner/operating organizations to share their experience and knowledge related to methods and strategies for the implementation of post-Fukushima actions at NPPs. Furthermore, the meeting discussed how such actions have been implemented and verified effectively (<https://www.iaea.org/NuclearPower/Meetings/2017/2017-03-27-03-29-NPES.html>). Further emphasis was put on collecting feedback and input on the IAEA’s upcoming publication of Review of Implementation and Sustainability of Post-Fukushima Daiichi Accident Actions at Nuclear Power Plants. The upcoming publication reviews the action taken, and action that will be be taken—subsequent to the Fukushima Daiichi accident—at NPPs and seeks to disseminate among member states good and effective practices for: decision making for modifications; implementing modifications; verifying modifications; and providing maintenance to ensure the sustainability of the modifications in the long term. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yearbook of International Environmental Law – Oxford University Press
Published: Dec 28, 2017
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