Islamabad: Senior international nuclear experts Friday concluded a 12-day Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency that reviewed Pakistan’s regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety.
The mission reviewed the effectiveness of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) in regulating the safety of the use of nuclear and radioactive material. The authority’s mandate covers nuclear power plants, research reactors, waste management facilities, radiation source applications and facilities, decommissioning activities and transport of radioactive material.
The team made recommendations and suggestions to the PNRA and the Government to help them strengthen the effectiveness of Pakistan’s regulatory framework and functions in line with IAEA Safety Standards.
“PNRA has a well-established regulatory and legal framework that is based on IAEA safety standards. It conducts effective regulatory activities for nuclear power plants, including licensing, inspection, enforcement, lessons learned and emergency preparedness,” said Liu Hua, IRRS mission Team Leader and Vice Administrator of China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration.
PNRA Chairman Anwar Habib said the authority would seriously consider all recommendations and suggestions provided by the Mission.
“We believe that these will further improve our work and effectiveness, enhancing the confidence of our stakeholders, including the Government and the public,” he said.
The 21-member review team comprised experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Korea, Lithuania, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine and the United States, as well as four IAEA staff members and one observer from Japan. The Pakistani Government had invited the mission, which included site visits to observe inspections, an emergency exercise and interviews and discussions with PNRA staff and other organizations.
The main observations of the IRRS Review team included the following:
PNRA is an independent and competent regulatory body, empowered with the full scope of regulatory powers required by the IAEA standards, and is provided sufficient resources; and
The legislation and associated regulations provide a binding legal framework for nuclear and radiation safety in Pakistan.
Good practices identified by the IRRS team included:
The Government’s willingness to provide PNRA with sufficient financial resources;
A comprehensive national education system to support the nuclear programme, and a well-developed PRNA training programme to maintain staff technical and regulatory competence during a rapid expansion;
The development and implementation of a national public awareness programme for nuclear and radiation safety.
The mission also identified issues in need of attention or improvement, including the following:
The IAEA Fundamental Safety Principles should be fully incorporated into the Pakistan safety framework and the primary responsibility for safety should be clearly assigned;
The legal responsibilities and obligations with respect to the financial provisions for the management of radioactive waste, spent fuel and decommissioning should be clearly stipulated;
The National Radiation Emergency Coordination Centre at PNRA should be modernized;
Regulations and regulatory guides that take the latest IAEA Safety Standards into account should be finalized and issued.
The final mission report will be delivered to the Government of Pakistan in about three months.
Pakistan has three operating nuclear power reactors and two nuclear power reactors under construction at one site. It also has a large variety of nuclear installations and radioactive source users including research reactors, radioactive waste treatment, and medical and industrial applications.
The IRRS missions review a broad spectrum of the nuclear legal and regulatory framework, resulting in recommendations to improve compliance with the IAEA safety standards and suggestions for further possible enhancement of the regulatory framework.
This is done through consideration of both regulatory technical and policy issues, with comparisons against IAEA safety standards and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere. IRRS missions are designed to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the national nuclear regulatory infrastructure of States, while recognizing the ultimate responsibility of each State to ensure safety in this area.
The IAEA encourages countries that have hosted initial IRRS missions to invite follow-up missions two to four years after the initial missions.
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