Sunday 11 March 2012 marks the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the east coast of Japan. One year on, the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are increasing their mutual cooperation to maximise nuclear safety efforts around the globe.
The two organisations are revising their memorandum of understanding in light of the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident, and will be stepping up their efforts to share expertise and knowledge between operators and governments. There will be greater coordination between WANO peer reviews and IAEA OSART missions, in which international experts assess the safety of individual nuclear power plants, and discussions are underway to examine further areas to improve information sharing. This is in addition to the other work each organisation is doing to reinforce nuclear safety worldwide.
Laurent Stricker, Chairman of WANO, commented:
"While the terrible events of last year had a major lasting impact on the industry, they have also served as the catalyst for huge change. WANO has shifted from primarily focusing on accident prevention, to an emphasis on both prevention and mitigation, and has redoubled its efforts to promote excellence in nuclear safety in each and every plant across the world. All nuclear plants have carefully analysed their ability to withstand and respond to both design basis and beyond design basis events since Fukushima, and improvements have already been made to severe accident management and emergency preparedness. This work will continue over the coming months and years."
IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano said:
"The IAEA is delighted to strengthen its coordination and cooperation with WANO. One of the lessons of Fukushima is the need for strong and effective communication between governments, regulators and nuclear operators. The IAEA's Action Plan on Nuclear Safety underlines the need for all stakeholders to work together to put these lessons into practice as tangibly and swiftly as possible, to deliver concrete results. By working more closely together, we can help to ensure that practical experience is properly shared to reinforce nuclear safety everywhere."
Stricker and Amano agreed that further lessons would continue to be learned from the Fukushima accident, as they were from earlier accidents such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, and that strong cooperation between WANO and the IAEA would be a vital element in this process.