IAEA Audit Of Sweden Shows Strengths

An International Atomic Energy Agency audit in Sweden found the country has a “comprehensive regulatory infrastructure” designed to keep its nuclear operations safe and secure.

Forsmark NPP in SwedenWith an international team of experts on the ground, the UN’s IAEA said Sweden also had room for improvements in their nuclear operations protocols. “The team … identified areas for possible improvements, such as ensuring that the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) … has sufficient qualified staff to fulfil all statutory and regulatory functions,” the IAEA said.

The IAEA team spent 12 days in Sweden from November 14-25. The mission was formally requested by the Swedish government and hosted by SSM. The inspection was a follow up to a prior safety audit conducted by the IAEA in 2012 with a follow up review that occurred in 2016.

The team, comprising 18 senior regulatory experts from 16 Member States as well as three IAEA staff members, reviewed the regulatory oversight of facilities and activities and exposure situations. The team also accompanied SSM staff during their inspections and oversight activities at the operating Forsmark nuclear power plant (NPP), the Ågesta NPP under decommissioning, the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory, the Gems pet cyclotron facility, the Cyclife laboratory and a hospital in Västerås.

Sweden has six nuclear reactors in operation in three plants, with a total installed capacity of 6885 MW(e), contributing 30.8% of total electricity generation in Sweden.

The team acknowledged Sweden’s steady commitment to nuclear safety and security. “SSM is a competent, independent regulator whose staff are committed to deliver SSM’s statutory obligations effectively,” said IRRS team leader Scott Morris, Regional Administrator for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The team also held meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Environment and with the management of Vattenfall, the licence holder for NPPs.

Among the strong points in Sweden’s safety and security methodology, the team lauded the transparency on data and doses for various medical procedures available to any interested party, including the public, proactive communication with the public and annual safety assessments to identify new issues and trends.

While a final report is expected in three months, the IAEA also noted areas of potential improvement, including establishment of a national strategy addressing competence needs, taking into account the possible expansion of nuclear power, improved coordination between SSM and other national authorities and further development of expert services in the event of a nuclear or radiological emergency.

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