The control room of the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, Phase 1, China. (Photo: P.Pavlicek/IAEA)
In most countries the nuclear safety infrastructure is diverse and complex, because nuclear technologies are used in various sectors — such as health, food production and distribution, water management, construction, shipping, electricity and the environment — and each sector has its own methods of sharing nuclear safety knowledge and its own repository of information. This could make it difficult for states to obtain consolidated information and to share it with international counterparts when necessary.
To facilitate the centralization and selective sharing of national nuclear safety information, the IAEA is helping countries create knowledge repositories under the internet-based Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network (GNSSN).
For example, four IAEA experts recently visited China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) in Beijing, to advise on the establishment of the country’s repository within the GNSSN. China has 27 nuclear power reactors in operation, 24 under construction, and more about to start construction, and needs assistance in creating cooperative mechanisms to share knowledge and expertise nationally, regionally and internationally.
Five other countries — Cameroon,Côte d’Ivoire, Malaysia, Morocco and Tunisia — are also receiving similar assistance. And recently, Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine and the USA developed their national knowledge platforms with portions that can be accessed by counterparts in other countries. These publicly-accessible areas provide specific national information about:
- Radiation and nuclear facilities and activities
- Responsibilities and functions of the government
- Responsibilities and functions of the regulatory body
- General country information
- Review missions
- International legal instruments
- Event reporting and feedback
- Stakeholder information
- Global nuclear safety and security regime
- National collaboration
The GNSSN is specifically designed to house these national information repositories, as it provides the best mechanism for experts to exchange and share nuclear safety and security information easily and quickly on a common, collaborative internet-based platform. In line with the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, the GNSSN, as a knowledge network, is part of an integrated IAEA methodology for capacity building and contributes to enhancing international cooperation and dialogue in the field of nuclear safety and security.
The IAEA is also putting its own vast stores of nuclear safety information on GNSSN, ensuring that what is eventually available to all countries is as comprehensive and helpful as possible. This is one of the key issues that occupied the GNSSN Steering Committee meeting that was held from 7 to 8 May.
“Eventually we would like for these nuclear knowledge platforms to include data from the national and international community, national stakeholders, and other UN organizations that are all involved in nuclear safety in some capacity,” said Yassine Chaari, IAEA Nuclear Safety Officer. And with requests flowing in from Asiatic and African countries, it’s expected that by the end of the year there will be 20 completed platforms reflecting the contribution and regulation of nuclear science and technology in Member States.