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France/Australia/civil nuclear safety

Published on September 13, 2011
Visit to Australia – Civil nuclear safety – Joint Franco-Australian statement¹

Canberra, September 11, 2011

Australia and France promote the responsible development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We have a bilateral agreement on nuclear transfers, which are governed by the highest safety, security and non-proliferation standards. Both countries are strongly committed to ensuring the safe use of nuclear power and safe transfer of nuclear materials. France is one of the world’s largest producers and users of civil nuclear energy. Australia is a major exporter of uranium and a significant manufacturer and exporter of radiopharmaceuticals.

Australia and France possess world leading research reactor facilities.

We value the strength of our existing bilateral research partnerships and the sharing of knowledge and expertise that they facilitate.

We acknowledge that those countries which have chosen to rely on nuclear energy pay close attention to the safe operation of their nuclear installations, which is primarily a national responsibility. We recognise that countries may have different approaches regarding the use and contribution of nuclear energy to their energy mix.

The events in Japan reinforce the vital importance of nuclear safety.

They confirm there is a continuing need to improve safety. We recognise the importance of learning from the Fukushima accident and its aftermath. We welcome the initiatives taken by many countries and at the regional level, by the European Union, to carry out comprehensive risk and safety assessments of their existing nuclear installations, and invite all other countries operating nuclear reactors to launch similar assessments as soon as possible. Such assessments should include accident prevention, emergency preparedness, crisis management and mitigation, and post-accident management. All together, these measures will contribute to strengthening the safety infrastructure worldwide.

We urge countries to complete periodic safety reviews, in particular through peer reviews, and to carry out assessments at every stage of a nuclear installation’s lifetime, building on experience. We reaffirm the high priority that we place on safety in the siting and design of new reactors, and the necessity of continuous improvement, learning from incidents and accidents that occur in the world.

We underscore the importance of international cooperation on nuclear safety, among governments, regulatory bodies, industry and research institutions. We are committed to promoting the highest levels of safety worldwide consistent with the principles of the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, through the strengthening of regional and international cooperation and training on safety practices, crisis management and transparency.

Efforts to improve nuclear safety will be assisted by the work already being undertaken by regulatory bodies, technical safety organisations and operators in networks and fora such as the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP), the Western European Nuclear Safety Regulators’ Association (WENRA), the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), the Asian Nuclear Safety Network (ANSN) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), as well as by the working groups on nuclear safety under the auspices of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). We recognize the positive role of these fora in the dissemination of best practices and lessons learned, and consider that such fora have an important role to play, together with the IAEA, for regions in which countries are considering the development of nuclear programmes.

We recognise the central role of the IAEA in the enhancement of nuclear safety worldwide, and we encourage countries to make use of the relevant capabilities, including regular peer review missions, of the Agency to help enhance the safety of their nuclear installations. We welcome the IAEA draft action plan, flowing from the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety of June 2011, and are committed to its swift adoption and effective implementation, and furthermore support all initiatives aiming at strengthening the global framework on nuclear safety. We also consider it important that serious nuclear or radiological events are subject to review by independent fact-finding missions conducted under the auspices of the IAEA, with results made available publicly, in order to promote public confidence and facilitate shared learning internationally.

We urge countries that have not yet done so to adhere to the relevant international conventions adopted under the auspices of the IAEA which are crucial to the international safety regime: the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident; the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency; the Convention on Nuclear Safety; and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.

We strongly recommend that countries embarking on or expanding nuclear programmes do so utilising the guidance and recommendations of the IAEA, including its ’Milestones’ approach to developing the necessary national infrastructure, addressing particularly the enactment of national legislation, the establishment of an independent regulatory body, retention of knowledge and expertise and emergency response planning and preparedness.

We also call on the IAEA to review the relevant existing IAEA standards to identify issues that may warrant examination and revision in light of the Fukushima accident and, in particular, to improve, as necessary, the relevant safety standards for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants in seismically hazardous areas, as well as in areas that might be exposed to other external events, taking into account their integrated impact. We will also consider a possible strengthening of the relevant conventions, including improving arrangements for reporting and mutual assistance. In this context, we look forward to the convening of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety in August 2012.

¹ Source of English text: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

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