Paris, 16 September 2011
Over 120 nuclear regulatory and industry experts met in Paris on 15-16 September to discuss the accomplishments of the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP) and the future of global nuclear safety. The conference comes at a challenging time following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
Participants at the Second MDEP Conference on New Reactor Design Activities included senior management from national regulatory authorities, new reactor vendors and licensees, industry groups and nuclear standards development organisations.
Mr. Luis E. Echávarri, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), which acts as the secretariat for the MDEP, outlined the progress accomplished since the programme was established five years ago as well as "the concrete path to convergence in nuclear safety practices among regulators that this unique initiative is building".
Mr. André-Claude Lacoste, Chairman of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (Autorité de sûreté nucléaire, ASN) and MDEP Policy Group Chair, highlighted the benefits and added value that participation in the programme has brought to its members as well as to nuclear safety more generally.
Participants discussed progress made by the MDEP design-specific working groups examining AREVA's EPR and Westinghouse's AP1000 designs, and the issue-specific working groups on digital instrumentation and control safety systems, mechanical codes and standards, and vendor inspection co-operation.
Common positions have been produced on digital instrumentation and control safety systems as well as certain aspects of the EPR and AP1000 designs. The programme has also issued a vendor inspection protocol, which is made available to vendors subject to such inspections, and a review of The Structure and Application of High-level Safety Goals.
Representatives from the World Nuclear Association's (WNA) working group on Co-operation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing (CORDEL) led a discussion on industry initiatives and standardisation.
The potential expansion of MDEP membership was considered, as national regulators from India, the Netherlands, Turkey and Vietnam have expressed interest in joining. The MDEP Policy Group will consider countries pursuing near-term safety reviews and construction of new reactors for inclusion in MDEP activities. Decisions on individual country candidatures will be made in the coming months.
All participants concurred that this Second MDEP Conference has been crucial for sharing information internationally, across the public and private sectors, and for receiving input from the main stakeholders on the next steps of this unique multinational initiative.
The Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP) was launched in 2006 by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) with the aim of developing innovative approaches to leverage the resources and knowledge of national regulatory authorities reviewing new reactor power plant designs. The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) acts as the Technical Secretariat for the MDEP.
Current members include the regulators from Canada, China, Finland, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The MDEP pools the resources of these ten nuclear regulatory authorities to harmonise the safety evaluation of new reactor designs and constitutes an important programme for new nuclear reactor projects.