U.S. Statement to the IAEA Board of Governors on Nuclear Safety

Nicole Shampaine, Chargé d'Affaires, U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, at the International Atomic Energy Agency Board Room.

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting,

September 11-15, 2017

Agenda Item Number 3(a) and 3(b)

Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear, Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety

Draft Safety Requirements: Safety of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities

U.S. Statement as delivered by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Nicole Shampaine



Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

As we are all aware, over the last two weeks, two powerful hurricanes hit the United States and I would like to thank Director General Amano and others for the condolences they expressed for the victims of these events. What is not widely known, however, is that these hurricanes passed in the vicinity of three U.S. nuclear power plants. These powerful storms brought severe winds, heavy rains, and massive surges of seawater along coastal locations in Texas and in Florida. But, because of the robust design and construction of U.S. facilities, we remain confident in their ability to withstand the impacts of these extreme weather events.


Mr. Chairman, I also want to highlight in this regard, the important role that our emphasis on safety played in this situation. This includes the proactive measures our power plant designers, our operators, and U.S. regulators took in advance of these storms. And, it includes the comprehensive plans we already had in place to safely shutdown the reactors before hurricane-force conditions reached any facility.


Although we mourn the devastation and tragic loss of life, we are very proud of the many men and women who 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. These critical efforts are just some of the safety-focused activities that exemplify the principles and objectives of the Convention on Nuclear Safety.


The United States takes this opportunity to thank the Director General for his report and to commend the Secretariat for the work the Agency has accomplished this past year in the field of nuclear safety. In particular, we take note of the Agency’s significant efforts to promote international cooperation and strengthen global nuclear safety through its peer-review programs such as the Integrated Regulatory Review Service and Operational Safety Review Team missions. We endorse the Agency’s recommendation that the Board of Governors consider and take note of this report.


We applaud the comprehensive 2017 Nuclear Safety Review, which accurately describes the wide range of activities undertaken in accordance with the Agency’s mandate and priorities defined by Member States. The Review stands out as a vital, forward-looking document with trends and priorities that outline the Agency’s focal areas for improving nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety.


We acknowledge and commend the Agency’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 Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency. We also urge the Agency to intensify its efforts in support of a global nuclear liability regime consistent with the International Expert Group on Nuclear Liability recommendations and we call upon our fellow Member States to become parties to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.


Finally, in anticipation of the next agenda item, we take this opportunity to support the approval of the Draft Safety Requirements for Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities. After having drawn on international expertise and comments from Member States, being approved by each of the standing Safety Standards Committees, and receiving an endorsement from the Commission on Safety Standards, it is clear to this delegation that these Draft Safety Requirements are ready to join the IAEA Safety Standards Series.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.