Heads of the nuclear regulatory agencies of ten countries met this week at the NEA to discuss progress in an important international initiative, the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP). During the meeting chaired by Mr. André-Claude Lacoste, Chairman of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, the regulators agreed to enter a new phase of co-operation and launch a programme of work, including design-specific and issue-specific activities, where results are expected in the short term.
Design-specific activities will draw participants from nuclear regulatory agencies of countries which are actively reviewing, or preparing to review, a specific reactor design. Issue-specific cross-cutting activities will address specific regulatory and technical challenges like the codes and standards for nuclear power plant components, multinational vendor inspection programmes, and digital instrumentation and control standards.
Under the MDEP, nuclear regulators are aiming to enhance safety worldwide through increased co-operation. The enhanced co-operation among regulators will improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the design review process, aiming at increased convergence of regulatory practices. The participating countries retain their sovereign authority over all licensing and regulatory decisions at all times.
The regulators discussed the successful completion of the MDEP pilot project launched in 2006. The pilot project addressed the licensing basis for the review of new designs and component manufacturing oversight, concluding that significant benefits would be gained by continuing this multilateral effort.
The national nuclear regulatory agencies of ten countries participate in the MDEP, including seven NEA members. The current members are Canada, Finland, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus China, the Russian Federation and South Africa. The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has been invited to continue its support for the MDEP in its role as Technical Secretariat.
NEA membership consists of 30 OECD countries. The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing, through international co-operation, the scientific, technological and legal bases required for a safe, environmentally friendly and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The NEA also provides authoritative assessments and forges common understandings on key issues, as input to government decisions on nuclear energy policy and to broader OECD policy analyses in areas such as energy and sustainable development. The information, data and analyses it provides draw on one of the best international networks of technical experts.