IAEA Board of Governors – U.S. Statement on Nuclear and Radiation Safety

IAEA staff, diplomats, journalists and others prior to the opening session of the September 2019 IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Vienna, Austria, September 9, 2019. (USUNVIE)

U.S. Statement on Agenda Item 3: Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety

As delivered by Ambassador Jackie Wolcott
Vienna, September 9, 2019


Thank you, Madam Chair,

The United States takes this opportunity to thank the Acting Director General for his report and commend him and the Secretariat for the work the Agency has accomplished this past year in the field of nuclear safety. We endorse the Secretariat’s recommendation that the Board of Governors consider and take note of this report.

We welcome the comprehensive report on Nuclear and Radiation Safety, which accurately describes the wide range of activities undertaken in accordance with the Agency’s mandate and priorities defined by Member States. This report is an important complement to the Nuclear Safety Review that serves as a forward-looking document with trends and priorities that will help the Secretariat inform Member States about focal areas for improving nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety in the future. We consider the Nuclear Safety Review, when taken together with the Agency’s Medium-Term Strategy, the report on Nuclear and Radiation Safety, and IAEA Programme and Budget documents, to be an effective vehicle for communicating progress and priorities for the next year. As such, we do not believe that an additional document, process, or program is needed to satisfy requests to define a “nuclear safety strategy and programme of work.”

Madam Chair. We again highlight the need for the realization of a global nuclear liability regime consistent with the International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability recommendations and call upon our fellow Member States to become party to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.

We acknowledge and commend the Secretariat’s efforts to encourage more Member States to become party to safety-related conventions, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident. We encourage the Secretariat to continue reflecting on new and innovative methods to more effectively promote the aforementioned Conventions.

Madam Chair. Last week, a powerful hurricane caused devastating destruction and a tragic loss of life in The Bahamas. We express our deepest sympathies to those who were impacted by this overwhelming storm, which serves as a somber reminder of the destructive force of extreme weather events. The track of this hurricane later threatened three nuclear power plants on the eastern coast of the United States, from Florida to North Carolina.

Because of the robust design and construction of U.S. facilities, we remained confident in their ability to withstand the impacts of severe winds, heavy rains, and massive surges of seawater. We also want to highlight our emphasis on safety as demonstrated by proactive measures taken by operators, regulators and local response teams in advance of this storm. Comprehensive plans were already in place to safely shutdown the reactors before hurricane-force conditions reached any facility. We are proud of the men and women that activated emergency response centers, checked emergency equipment and supplies, and implemented staffing plans to ensure enough operators, engineers, and inspectors were on site if roads became inaccessible. We believe that these efforts are just some of the safety-focused activities that exemplify the principles and objectives of the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

Thank you, Madam Chair.