The Nuclear Energy Agency Identifies Future Challenges
Facing Nuclear Regulators
competition and deregulation in the electricity sector are changing
the playing field and creating new challenges for nuclear regulators.
The major challenge will be to ensure that economic pressures do not
erode nuclear safety. In order to maintain regulatory effectiveness,
they will have to adapt to an increasingly market-oriented environment
and integrate new considerations into their working relationships with
operators. Regulators will also have to respond to pressure for greater
openness and more effective interface with the public, media and parliaments.
These are the
main messages that the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Committee on Nuclear
Regulatory Activities are addressing to the governments of its Member
countries in Future Nuclear Regulatory Challenges, just published
The report identifies
a number of issues which are likely to create future challenges for
regulators. The report separates these into technical, socio-economic
and political issues; organisational, management and human aspects;
and international issues. Some of the issues have the potential to affect
the majority of regulators and are therefore particularly well-suited
to international co-operation.
that may present significant new regulatory challenges in the future
are mostly related to the ageing of nuclear plants, components and structures;
analytical techniques and documentation; rules and standards; and technology.
Other technical issues with potential regulatory impact include plant
backfitting and plant life extension, maximising output from existing
reactors, and decommissioning plants.
and political issues which will require regulatorsí attention include
deregulation of the electricity market, privatisation and restructuring
of companies in the electricity supply sector, and staff reductions.
managerial and human-resource issues that present significant future
challenges include regulatory effectiveness, licensee responsibility
and staff training.
issues with potential regulatory impact concern the development of co-operation
among safety authorities, including in those countries where regulatory
organisations need to be strengthened.
The report concludes
that over the next ten years, six major challenges could potentially
affect the majority of nuclear regulators and warrant special attention.
- coping with
ageing nuclear plants;
safety margins during more exacting operating modes;
- ensuring that
operators fully assume their safety responsibilities;
- ensuring that
staff are well-trained and that a critical mass of knowledge is preserved.