International Regulatory Cooperation: It Works!

April 18, 2013

By Heather Kleb
Vice President
Canadian Nuclear Association

What happens when you bring together nuclear regulators from 50 countries for a week-long conference in Ottawa? An approach to regulatory oversight that is impressively consistent and rigorous, including in how they responded to the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

I was very impressed by how thorough the regulators were in their response to Fukushima. Clearly they have been sharing a lot of information, the same way that the nuclear industry has been sharing our lessons learned from Fukushima.

Since the tsunami struck Japan two years ago, the nuclear industry has been working to ensure that safety standards and policies reflect current findings. Canada’s nuclear companies thoroughly assessed our own systems and operations to confirm their safety. We looked at back-up power systems and assured ourselves that our energy facilities could withstand tsunamis and other natural disasters.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), in its Fukushima Task Force Report, shared our view that all Canadian nuclear power plants are safe, and designed to withstand Fukushima-like conditions. Interestingly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that CNSC’s Fukushima response was prompt, robust and comprehensive, and an example for other regulatory bodies.

I hadn’t realized until this conference just how closely our regulators work together. I was encouraged to see that regulators from countries with lengthy nuclear experience are more than willing to help countries with newer nuclear programs to develop their own effective regulatory frameworks.  I was also pleased to hear from other regulators that the CNSC is widely recognized as “one of the top regulators in the world”.

The nuclear energy industry is an international community. We all feel the impact of events at other facilities, and we all share the same desire to make our industry safer.

The more we can share and communicate, the better we will be.

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