atw - International Journal for Nuclear Power | 04.2019


atw Vol. 64 (2019) | Issue 4 ı April



The Key Role of the IAEA’s Integrated

Regulatory Review Service in Improving

Nuclear Safety

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responding to member state needs and making the

Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) more effective and efficient, David Senior, head of the agency’s

regulatory activities section, and Hilaire Mansoux, head of the regulatory infrastructure and transport safety

section, told NucNet in an interview.

Feedback from member states over the past five years has

been used in the development of updated IRRS guidelines

on the preparation and conduct of missions, which will be

published soon and see the implementation of further

improvements to the service

The IRRS helps IAEA member states strengthen and

improve their national regulatory framework and infrastructure

for nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and

transport safety. In line with other safety related peer

review services offered by the IAEA, the IRRS supports

member states in applying IAEA safety standards. The

IRRS began in 2006, when the IAEA integrated several

existing regulatory review services.

IRRS teams evaluate a state’s regulatory infrastructure

for safety against IAEA safety standards, which provide the

fundamental principles, requirements and guidance to

ensure nuclear safety. The standards serve as a global

reference for protecting people and the environment and

contribute to a harmonised high level of safety worldwide.

The teams compile their findings in reports that provide

recommendations and suggestions for improvement, and

note good practices that can be adapted for use elsewhere

internationally to strengthen safety. Mission reports

describe the effectiveness of the regulatory oversight of

nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety

and highlight how it can be further strengthened.

States that have requested an IRRS mission prepare by

conducting a “self-assessment” using an IAEA-developed

methodology and software tool. During preparations, the

IAEA and the host country meet to agree on the scope

of the mission, including by defining which regulated

facilities and activities will be reviewed.

In October 2018 the IRRS held its 100 th mission, to

Hungary, where experts carried out an eight-day follow-up

mission to review the country’s implementation of recommendations

and suggestions made during a 2015 visit.

According to Mr Senior and Mr Mansoux, the service

helps member states by identifying opportunities for

improvement, but also allows countries to learn from one

another because the results of missions are shared through

mission reports and “lessons learned” workshops.

By judging the mission against IAEA safety standards,

the service has brought about greater harmonisation of

regulatory practices amongst member states. The agency

sees the informal exchange of experience between expert

reviewers and regulatory staff across the world as another

valuable learning opportunity.

The IRRS carries out from nine to 12 missions a year

and is being used increasingly by countries that do not

have a commercial nuclear power programme but are

thinking about starting one.

The service has established itself as the “preferred

choice” for EU member states who must complete a peer

review every 10 years to comply with the bloc’s nuclear

safety directive, Mr Senior and Mr Mansoux told NucNet

In response to requests from member states, the IAEA

can also offer combined IRRS and Artemis missions. Artemis

is the Agency’s integrated expert peer review service for

radioactive waste and spent fuel management, decommissioning

and remediation programmes. It is intended for

facility operators and organisations responsible for radioactive

waste management, and for regulators, national

policy and other decision-makers.

The first combined IRRS-Artemis mission was recently

conducted in Spain. The combined mission approach option

aims to exploit the synergies between the respective reviews.

The IRRS is also available to countries that do not have

commercial nuclear power and do not have plans to introduce

it. The service helps them regulate the use of radiation

sources in industry, medicine, agriculture and research.

Mr Senior said: “High standards of nuclear safety can be

achieved through a culture of continuous improvement, and

all countries – including those with extensive experience –

can use the IRRS to improve and demonstrate closer alignment

of their national arrangements with IAEA safety


“In short, all countries need to regulate nuclear and

radiation safety, and the IRRS programme helps them do

so in line with its safety standards,” he said.Some countries

have a well-established regulatory infrastructure, based on

decades of experience, to regulate all types of installations

and activities. Other countries are just establishing a legal

and regulatory framework for safety.

“Regardless of the approach to nuclear regulation and

the maturity of the arrangements in each country, there is

always room for improvement,” Mr Mansoux said

The IAEA safety standards are continuously evolving to

reflect developments including feedback from the IRRS

missions, and it is a continuous process to ensure that

the national regulatory infrastructure is in line with the


Challenges remain, said Mr Senior and Mr Mansoux,

particularly those associated with ensuring adequate

financial and human resources, and the independence of

the regulatory body.

NucNet was speaking to David Senior, head of the IAEA’s

regulatory activities section, and Hilaire Mansoux, head of

the regulatory infrastructure and transport safety section.



The Independent Global Nuclear News Agency

Editor responsible for this story: Kamen Kraev

Avenue des Arts 56

1000 Brussels, Belgium

Inside Nuclear with NucNet

The Key Role of the IAEA’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service in Improving Nuclear Safety

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