Enhancing global nuclear safety was the focus of an international conference held on 8 April 2014 in Tokyo, Japan, by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in co-operation with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Japan.
High-level experts from nuclear regulatory authorities in France, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States reviewed international developments in nuclear safety since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in March 2011, as the international community works to strengthen nuclear safety at the global level. Speakers also included experts from the OECD/NEA and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría spoke about sound energy policies for economic and social development and insisted on very high levels of safety as the first condition for using nuclear power. NRA Chairman, Dr. Shunichi Tanaka also stressed the importance of the independence, technical capability and transparency of the regulatory authorities, as well as a strong safety culture.
Dr. Tanaka indicated that 17 nuclear power reactors were currently being reviewed by the NRA based on new regulatory requirements in order to determine their suitability for restart. He also noted that new guidelines for emergency preparedness and response were being developed.
NEA Director-General Luis Echávarri highlighted the role of international co-operation, noting that, "A little more than three years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, the NEA continues to assist the authorities of Japan in their nuclear safety and recovery efforts as well as to facilitate international co-operation on nuclear safety and radiological protection." Through this co-operation, nuclear safety can be further enhanced worldwide, thus enabling countries that wish to do so to make use of low-carbon, baseload nuclear energy supplies.
Conference participants discussed in detail various elements for improving nuclear regulatory regimes, a key aspect of ensuring that nuclear power plants are operated safely and prepared for extreme events.
The OECD/NEA international conference on global nuclear safety enhancement is the latest initiative by the NEA to consolidate international knowledge and expertise in the field of nuclear safety and to evaluate lessons learnt from recent experience. In 2013, the Agency produced the comprehensive report, The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: OECD/NEA Nuclear Safety Response and Lessons Learnt. Conference proceedings are in preparation and will be provided online.
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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.