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An international assessment recommends ensuring radiation safety competence in Finland

An international assessment recommends ensuring radiation safety competence in Finland

16 Jun 2015 11:00
Press release

A peer review conducted by a team of specialists of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) recognized the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) as a reliable authority seeking continuous development. Further specification of legislation and the maintenance of radiation safety competence were identified as areas of development.

The supervision of the use of radiation and nuclear energy and the development of this supervision were evaluated in Finland for eight days in the beginning of June. This follow-up of the IRRS review determined how well Finland had fulfilled the recommendations made in 2012.

The reviewers stated that STUK had reinforced its supervisory operations and made significant progress by implementing 26 of the 29 recommendations given. The expert group felt that the work done in three years was a remarkable achievement and demonstrated Finland’s strong commitment to the implementation of the IAEA’s safety requirements.

“During the evaluation, we obtained proof of STUK’s international reputation as a credible authority with a genuine will to develop itself and others. The state of Finland has also implemented major improvements in the legal standing of STUK in order to promote its independence, although there are still important measures which need to be carried out”, says the head of the evaluation, Philippe Jamet, commissioner of the French supervisory authority (ASN).

The review group gave two new recommendations, one of which concerns ensuring radiation safety competence in Finland. This competence is currently under threat as STUK has ended most of its radiation safety research as a result of budget cuts. The team empasized the importance of state support to create a national radiation safety research programme and network in order to maintain a high level of competence in Finland also in the future. The other new recommendation concerned legal clarifications for the permissions required for taking nuclear facilities out of use.

Reinforcement of independent status still important

Although STUK’s mandate has been increased in recent changes of legislation, the review group found a further reinforcement of the independent status still important. “In order to improve the operations of the authority, the state of Finland should continue to reinforce STUK’s position as a supervisory authority in such a way that its operations are separate from such operators whose duties or objectives might impose an undue effect on STUK’s decisions”, Greg Rzentkowski, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Installation Safety explains further.

Other areas of development identified by the review group include the development of STUK’s management system in order to ensure a uniform method of operation in the supervision of the use of nuclear energy and radiation, a clearer division of responsibility between STUK and permit holders in terms of environmental supervision of nuclear facilities and mines as well as the development of communications in state administration in order to ensure harmonised crisis communications.

”A regular evaluation of development is important. External evaluation allows us to make sure that the required development takes place in time and in the right direction. Based on the results of the review group, we have been implementing the correct actions in Finland. The work still has to continue, however”, says Petteri Tiippana, Director General of STUK.

What is the IRRS review?

The International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA carries out integrated regulatory review services (IRRS) at the request of states in order to promote the efficiency of national nuclear and radiation safety supervision infrastructure. The review is done by a group put together by the IAEA, comprising experienced nuclear and radiation safety experts. They observe the work of the authority as well as technical and political factors and compare them against the safety standards set by the IAEA as well as good practices found elsewhere.

The actual IRRS review was held in Finland on 15–26 October 2012. The reviewers carried out an IRRS Follow up mission on 9–16 June 2015. The follow-up consisted of a review of the implementation of previous recommendations and suggestions made to Finland. The review team of nine people was led by commissioner Philippe Jamet of the French supervisory authority (ASN). The other experts came from the Czech Republic, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and IAEA staff.

In addition to meetings with STUK staff, the team interviewed the chairperson of STUK’s nuclear safety committee and specialists from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of the Interior. The final report of the workgroup will be published on the STUK website within three months.

The press release of IAEA 16.6.2015: IAEA Mission Reviews Finnish Regulatory Framework for Nuclear Safety
The press release of STUK 26.10.2012: IAEA International Expert Team emphasizes the importance of STUK’s independent role

Further information:
Director General Petteri Tiippana, tel. +358 9 759 88 200
Development Manager Kaisa Koskinen, tel. +358 9 759 88 322
Head of Public Affairs Kaisa Raitio, tel. +358 9 759 88 759

Nuclear safety
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