An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said the Netherlands has significantly strengthened its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety since 2014 and particularly by establishing a single independent regulatory body.
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team concluded on 26 November an eight-day follow-up mission to review the Netherlands’ implementation of recommendations and suggestions made during the initial IRRS mission in 2014. This follow-up mission was conducted at the request of the Government of the Netherlands, hosted by the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) and supported by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).
IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national nuclear regulatory infrastructure, based on IAEA safety standards and international good practices, while recognizing the responsibility of each country to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.
The Netherlands operates one nuclear power plant at Borssele, in the country’s southwest. The Netherlands also has another nuclear power reactor in permanent shutdown, a fuel enrichment plant, a radioactive waste storage facility and two operating research reactors, one of which produces 30% of the world’s medical isotopes. The national regulator authorizes the use of radioactive materials by some 1,000 licensees for industry, medicine and research.
The scope of the follow-up mission covered the same regulated facilities and activities reviewed in 2014. The team observed that the Government, following recommendations made by the initial mission, has consolidated regulatory functions under the ANVS and provided sufficient resources for regulating nuclear and radiation safety. Previously, the regulatory functions had been spread among several ministries.
The team also noted a strong commitment from the Government and the ANVS for continuous improvement and adherence to IAEA safety standards.
"The team was impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of the ANVS staff in their approach to regulatory oversight,” said team leader Andrej Stritar, Director of the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration. “The ANVS’s functions are continuously improved and kept in line with the best international practice.”
In addition, the team was requested to review activities covered by IAEA safety standards relevant to special arrangements for the transport of nuclear material which was not included in the initial IRRS mission. The team observed that the Netherlands makes such arrangements with a commitment to safety and following relevant IAEA safety standards.
The team found that since 2014, the ANVS has taken positive steps to:
ㆍSuccessfully integrate previously separated regulatory groups into one independent and well-functioning organization that has a clear strategy and improved communication.
ㆍDevelop an integrated management system and foster a strong safety culture.
ㆍMake significant progress in developing and implementing inspection planning and emergency preparedness and response.
“To continuously improve safety is the guiding principle for Dutch operators, facilities and regulators,” said Jan van den Heuvel, Chairman of the ANVS Board. “We continue to seek ways to improve the way we work, together with partners. Many valuable findings from this mission will take us up to the next level.”
“I have great confidence in the strength of our joint efforts to promote safety,” said Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands. “And I am delighted that the positive findings of this report reaffirm this confidence, we keep working together this way to ensure and continuously improve nuclear safety and radiation protection.”
The team also said that regulatory requirements for the end state of decommissioning was an area in need of further development.
“The mission has demonstrated that the Netherlands places a high priority on ensuring its framework and infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety is effective in protecting public health and worker safety,” said David Senior, Head of the Regulatory Activities Section at the IAEA.
The 12-member of IRRS team comprised senior regulatory experts from Argentina, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom as well as three IAEA staff members.
The final mission report will be provided to the Government in about four months. The Government plans to make the report public.
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