Nuclear Safety

Agenda Item 2 (a, b, & c) Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2009 GOV/2010/4

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting March 1-5, 2010

U.S. Statement

Ambassador Glyn Davies

Permanent Representative of the United States to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Office in Vienna

Mr. Chairman,

As this is my first time taking the floor, I would like to take the opportunity to welcome you.  Please be assured of my delegation’s full support and cooperation as we work together to advance all the important issues before this Board.

I would also like to extend condolences to those affected by the earthquakes in Chile. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the victims of this tragedy.

The United States welcomes the Director General’s draft Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2009.  As has been the case for similar annual Safety Reviews, this document provides a useful review of worldwide efforts to strengthen nuclear, radiation, transport, and radioactive waste safety and emergency preparedness.  In view of the increased worldwide interest in nuclear power and non-power applications, the IAEA’s role in nuclear safety takes on greater importance.

I want to highlight a few areas of particular interest to the United States in the realm of nuclear safety.   One issue is that of medical exposures to radiation – an area of significant and troubling growth over the past few years.  More than half of workers exposed to radiation on the job are related to the field of medicine.  As the use of radiological sources for medical imaging, diagnosis, and treatment increases, so does the importance of the IAEA’s training in the safe use of these sources.  The U.S. supports these efforts and encourages other Member States to also support and participate in the IAEA’s activities in this area.

The United States would also like to highlight the Agency’s work in encouraging the establishment of global and regional safety networks.   The demand for training and assistance with new nuclear power programs, new nuclear medicine facilities, and new uranium mining and milling activities increases every year.    To meet this demand, the IAEA has encouraged the establishment of national and regional knowledge networks.  The United States would like to commend the IAEA and other Member States for their establishment and support of networks such as the Asian Nuclear Safety Network (ANSN) and the Ibero- American Forum.   The U.S. would also like to welcome the establishment of the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA).

Structured interactions of this type among Member States are essential for increasing the effectiveness of the Global Nuclear Safety Network, coordinated by the Agency.   Another important way to strengthen nuclear safety culture is through conferences such as the Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems Conference held in South Africa in December.   The U.S. was pleased to chair this conference and we thank our South African hosts.  We strongly encourage such efforts to provide regular opportunities for nuclear regulators to meet and share ideas and experience.

With many new countries considering the development or expansion of nuclear power programs, it is essential also to maintain a strong focus on the safety of the existing fleet of operating reactors worldwide.  We look forward to the next Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety next year and strongly encourage all countries considering new nuclear power programs to become parties to that Convention.  We note that that all countries operating reactors are parties and urge the Islamic Republic of Iran, which may soon bring on-line a nuclear power reactor, to accede to the Convention and uphold the highest standards for nuclear safety.

I would like to say a few words about peer reviews, an excellent method for Member States to assist and learn from each other.  Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) missions, Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) missions, and the recently established Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions are all excellent ways for Member States to learn from industry and safety experts and receive advice about program improvements.  We support these types of reviews and encourage other Member States to participate in them.  We also commend the Agency for its effort to coordinate these review missions to ensure maximum benefit for Member States.  I would note that the U.S. will host an IRRS mission, focused on our operating reactor program, in October of this year.  We look forward to this opportunity to learn from international experts who will use the newly revised GS-R-1 to conduct their review.  We will also host the next OSART mission in the United States in 2011.

With the increased interest in both nuclear power and radiological sources, the work of the Agency’s Incident and Emergency Center becomes even more important.  The Response Assistance Network (RaNet) is a tool enabling Member States to draw on the response capabilities of other Member States during an emergency.  I would like to reiterate U.S. support for RaNet, and note that we have volunteered some of our capabilities for use in the network.  We encourage other Member States to join RaNet.  In addition, the Agency’s “train the trainers” approach to training emergency responders is effective and commendable.

My delegation wishes to repeat the importance of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, the CSC.   This convention was developed under the aegis of the Agency as the global nuclear liability regime.  It is meant to provide prompt and fair compensation to victims of a nuclear accident, remote as that possibility might be.  The CSC has a safety component, as it will ultimately provide for all suppliers to be involved in the international market and allow buyers to place a premium on safety features.   We encourage all Member States, whether they have nuclear power programs or not, to sign and ratify the CSC.  The Convention is important for Member States that do not deploy nuclear power reactors, as it gives them protection against damage that they would not otherwise have.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States would also like to take this opportunity to commend the work done by the Secretariat and contributors from Member States to the revision of an important Safety Requirements publication. The publication is entitled Governmental, Legal and Regulatory Framework for Safety.   The U.S. strongly supports the revised publication, which will delineate the governmental and legal framework for the establishment of an effective regulatory body, the keystone of a safe and secure civil nuclear energy program. Therefore, the U.S. concurs in the establishment of this draft Safety Requirements publication as an Agency safety standard, and in the authorization to the Director General to promulgate the Requirements and issue them as a publication in the IAEA Safety Standards Series.

With this, Mr. Chairman, the United States would like to reiterate its full support for the vital work of the Agency in the area of nuclear safety.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman