An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said the Netherlands, which includes one nuclear power plant, 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 its nuclear plant at Borssele, in the country’s southwest. However, the country has supportive and ancillary projects that fall under IAEA review. 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 percent 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 found that since 2014, the ANVS has taken positive steps to integrate previously separated regulatory groups into one "independent and well-functioning organization that has a clear strategy and improved communication." Improvements also included development of an integrated management system, creation of a "strong safety culture" and progress developing inspection planing and emergency strategies.
"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.”
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.
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