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PERMANENT MISSION OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

TO THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY

VIENNA  

Nuclear Safety

 

The United Arab Emirates is committed to the highest standards of safety and security in the development of its nuclear power programme.

 

Presented as one of the cornerstones of the “Policy of the UAE on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy,” this policy principle is reinforced by the country’s cross-cutting commitment to operational transparency and non-proliferation.

 

The decision to proceed with a nuclear power programme in the UAE was based on an extensive national advisory and consultative process, recognizing that the construction of nuclear plant in the country is a long-term commitment which poses specific requirements for a national nuclear power infrastructure and for participation in the international network on nuclear safety. The UAE has taken early actions to fulfil its responsibilities in line with nuclear safety as recommended by the IAEA.

 

 

One of the five specific policy goals presented in the UAE Nuclear Policy requires “the highest possible standards of safety and security” to be met by achieving the following attributes:

 

• Meeting the IAEA requirements and developing the highest regulatory standards;  

• Establishing a culture of safety that permeates and influences decisions and actions of all who are associated with the programme;

• Developing the necessary national human resources to sustainably support a nuclear programme;  

• Building robust “risk awareness” security arrangements to protect plants and facilities;

• Planning for long- term decommissioning.

 

 

Committed to meeting or exceeding the highest international standards for safety and security, the UAE intends to be a  global model for developing a programme based upon IAEA standards. The regulatory authority, FANR, relies on existing international standards, and on the example of recognized leading regulatory agencies around the world.

 

Support through international cooperation is also an important part of the plan to adopt the highest standards for safety. The UAE is party to a number of international conventions on nuclear safety.

 

In 1987, the UAE concluded two conventions on safety:

 

IAEA Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident

IAEA Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency

 

 

In 2009, the UAE became party to two major IAEA instruments on the safety of nuclear facilities and the safety of nuclear waste:

 

IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety

IAEA Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management

 

Since then, the UAE has prepared and submitted three national reports on compliance with the obligations of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, presented to the CNS Review Meetings and one Extraordinary Meeting:

 

1st National Report to the 5th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, April 2011

2nd National Report to the 2nd Extraordinary Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, August 2012

3rd National Report to the 6th Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, March-April 2014

 

Two additional National Reports were submitted to the IAEA in fulfilment of its obligations under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management:

 

1st National Report to the 4th Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management;

2nd National Report to the 5th Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, May 2015.

 

 

Developing and Maintaining a Programme-wide Culture of Safety

 

While it is clear the ultimate responsibility for safety rests with the operator, adoption of these international standards demonstrates that the UAE expects an adequate level of safety consciousness and acceptance of personal responsibility by all participants in the nuclear project. The safety responsibilities of all stakeholders are recognized, including those of Government authorities, vendors and regulators.

 

Coinciding with the start of construction, plans for hiring and training have been developed to ensure a well-trained and qualified staff is available well before the first nuclear power plant begins operation. Selected candidates from the UAE are enrolled in nuclear engineering programmes in the United States and other countries, and partnerships with local educational institutions have strengthened the potential pipeline for talented employees. Programmes for selection and training of operators, technicians and maintenance workers are in place and under continuoues development. Targeted hiring and recruiting efforts to staff the current organizations have attracted a wealth of experience in areas including nuclear operations, licensing, administration and project management.

 

The UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) was established on 24 September 2009. From its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, FANR oversees the nuclear sector in the UAE in line with the UAE Nuclear Law, Nuclear Policy, international treaties and international best practices. FANR is responsible for regulating the design, siting, construction, operation and decommissioning of all nuclear facilities in the UAE including nuclear power plants. It promotes the highest standards of nuclear safety, nuclear security and radiological protection.

 

FANR website: http://www.fanr.gov.ae

 

 

Emergency Preparedness and Response

 

With regard to emergency preparedness, great progress is being made in the development of facilities and the capability to manage the medical aspects of a nuclear emergency. In March 2015, the IAEA Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission was hosted by the UAE Government. The results of the mission concluded that the nuclear emergency preparedness and response framework in the UAE is being effectively built on an existing national crisis and emergency management structure that is clear, well-defined and has been tested. This all-hazard approach is a key to the future success of the UAE emergency preparedness and response programme.

 

 

Cooperation with the IAEA

 

The UAE enjoys close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and benefits from the Agency’s guidance in a number of key areas related to nuclear power, especially nuclear safety. Primarily, the UAE is developing its nuclear infrastructure through the IAEA’s Milestones approach, which provides phases that a country should reach to establish a complete and robust infrastructure. The UAE is currently in the final Phase of this approach, with plans for its first nuclear power plant Unit to be operational by 2017.

 

Under the auspices of the IAEA, the UAE actively participates in the Commission on Safety Standards (CSS), the Nuclear Safety Standards Committee (NUSSC) and the Radiation Safety Standards Committee (RASSC). It also hosts meetings to address important safety measures, such as the Nuclear Safety Standards Committee Working Group which took place in March 2013, in Abu Dhabi.

 

Through the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation programme, the UAE participates in workshops, training courses and receives technical assistance to enhance its safety features as well. FANR representatives have been involved in meetings for Strengthening Regional Nuclear Regulatory Authorities and Safety Culture, for example. At its first meeting for Project Coordinators, the UAE contributed to the design of the project, and put forth national priorities for activities to be held in the UAE within this project for the cycle 2014 – 2015. Other essential programmes in which the UAE is currently taking place in or will take place in in 2016 include areas such as infrastructure, emergency preparedness, and response and radiation safety.

 

Developments in the UAE programme’s radiation safety infrastructure include the commissioning of the Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory which will take place in 2015; the near-completion of radiation monitoring networks; and on-going progress on FANR and ENEC environmental radiation laboratories, a storage facility for orphan sources, dosimetry qualification, and education and training strategy.

 

As a method to evaluate the work that has been done so far and to receive valuable feedback on what improvements need to be made going forward, the UAE has hosted IAEA peer review missions. An IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR) was conducted in the UAE in January 2011 and an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission in December 2011. The follow-up IRRS mission was recently carried out in February 2015. During the follow-up mission, the team determined that 13 out of 14 recommendations reviewed and 30 of 34 suggestions reviewed had been effectively addressed and could be considered closed. This marks a commendable effort on the part of the regulator.

 

The UAE will continue to use these peer reviews to ensure that it is developing its programme with the highest standards of safety.

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