Nuclear Safety Standards Amped Up: IAEA Adjusts Safety Publications

Nuclear Safety Standards Amped Up

Ensuring safe and controlled use of nuclear technologies in various, global settings is the robust job of the IAEA. This year, the IAEA is changing its safety publications to make nuclear technology standards even more regulated.

Nuclear technologies: a hot topic phrase that holds global headlining weight. Many countries around the world use nuclear technologies for military, educational, agricultural, medicinal, and industrial purposes.The job of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to ensure the safety framework for these uses in various facilities and settings. This year, the agency made a major revision to its IAEA safety standards publication series.

The IAEA safety standards is a series of publications which outlines international recommendations for the protection of people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. These publications particularly outline safety procedures for the following activities: the operation of nuclear installations, transport and use of radioactive material, management of radioactive waste, and the application of radiation sources in medicine, industry, agriculture, education and research. The content is a result of collaboration between international governments and organizations to ensure global application.

The standards consist of a threefold series: the Safety Fundamentals, the Safety Requirements, and the Safety Guides. The Safety Fundamentals outlines the IAEA’s overall conceptual basis for the entire safety standards, noting fundamental safety objectives and principles. The Safety Requirements gives a more concrete overview of the conditions that must be met to ensure the protection of people and the environment. Lastly, the Safety Guides gives recommendations and guidance on how to comply with these requirements.  

This year’s structural revision of the IAEA safety standards outlines both general and specific requirements for nuclear technology use. It has seven General Safety Requirements applicable to all facilities and activities, and seven Specific Safety Requirements which are facility and activity specific.

“The new structure makes it easier for users to identify which standards apply to their facilities and activities,” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.

The revision has had numerous positive effects, including increasing their user friendliness, improved methods for collecting feedback, and strengthening standards and promoting their universal application. The Site Evaluation for Nuclear Installations of 2019 is the most recent completion of the set of requirements in line with the revised long-term structure. 

What’s more is the revision has improved the safety standards themselves. “This project entailed not only integrating new definitions and concepts in radiation protection and lessons learned in recent years, but also ensuring strengthened harmony among the standards, further integrating the various thematic areas covered in these publications,” said Dominique Delattre, Head of the IAEA’s Safety Standards and Security Guidance Development Section.

For explanations and definitions of the terms used in the Standards, the IAEA also published an updated version of its Safety Glossary for users. The online search tool, the Nuclear Safety and Security Online User Interface (NSS-OUI), lets users access and browse the contents of the Standards with ease and efficiency using keywords. 

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