The Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP) has appointed Dr Allison M. Macfarlane of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as its new chair. Dr Macfarlane replaces André-Claude Lacoste, former chair of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (Autorité de sûreté nucléaire, ASN).
Dr Macfarlane, who was sworn in as chair of the NRC on 9 July 2012, began her duties with the MDEP on 15 March, chairing the MDEP Policy Group meeting at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland in the United States.
Mr Luis E. Echávarri, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), which acts as the Technical Secretariat for the MDEP, welcomed Dr Macfarlane to the programme. He was pleased to note that "Dr Macfarlane's appointment as chairman of the MDEP will ensure that the valuable work of the programme will continue unabated, after several years of strong leadership under Mr Lacoste. The importance of the MDEP to the enhanced safety of new nuclear reactor designs and the effectiveness of the regulatory process is reflected in the significant interest which has been shown in the programme by its 11 member organisations and its new associate member the United Arab Emirates."
"I am honoured to assume the chairmanship of the MDEP as the group continues its important efforts to strengthen global nuclear safety through collaboration on new reactor designs and broadly-applicable technical issues," Chair Macfarlane said. "The MDEP benefits from each member country's unique perspective, and I look forward to working further with each of them in the coming months."
Dr Macfarlane holds a doctorate in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor's of science degree in geology from the University of Rochester. Prior to beginning her term as NRC chair, Dr Macfarlane was an associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University. From 2010 to 2012, she served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, created to make recommendations on a national strategy for managing the country's high-level radioactive waste.
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 designs.
MDEP membership includes the nuclear regulatory authorities of Canada, China, Finland, France, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The nuclear regulator of the United Arab Emirates is an associate member.
The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) acts as the Technical Secretariat for the MDEP. The International Atomic Energy Agency participates in the generic activities of the programme.
The MDEP pools the resources of these 12 nuclear regulatory authorities for the purposes of 1) co-operating on safety reviews of designs of nuclear reactors that are under construction and undergoing licensing in several countries, and 2) exploring opportunities and potential for harmonisation of regulatory requirements and practices. It also produces reports and guidance documents that are shared internationally beyond MDEP membership (see related link below). The MDEP is a unique forum with growing influence on new nuclear reactor projects.
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NEA membership consists of 31 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 sound and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It strives to provide authoritative assessments and to forge common understandings on key issues as input to government decisions on nuclear energy policy and to broader OECD analyses in areas such as energy and the sustainable development of low‑carbon economies.