06. March 2017
STATEMENT BY DR JOHNNY THABO PITSWANE, DEPUTY RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 6 MARCH 2017, VIENNA
AGENDA ITEM 2 a: STRENGTHENING THE AGENCY’S ACTIVITIES RELATED TO NUCLEAR, RADIATION, TRANSPORT AND WASTE SAFETY:
(A) NUCLEAR SAFETY REVIEW 2017
South Africa associates itself with the statement delivered by the Ambassador of Algeria, H.E. Ms Faouzia MEBARKI on behalf of the African Group, and with the statement delivered by the Ambassador of Iran, H. E. Mr Reza NAJAFI on behalf of the Group of G-77 and China.
As one of the countries with nuclear facilities, South Africa attaches great importance to the issue of nuclear safety. It is in this context that we welcome the Nuclear Safety Review 2017 which outlines the key activities by the Agency in areas such as nuclear installations, radiation, transport and waste safety, including the management of the safety and security interface. In particular, my delegation welcomes the number of meetings and training programmes aimed at strengthening Member States’ efforts related to nuclear safety.
In this regard, South Africa is pleased to have participated in the First Meeting to Discuss Feedback from Contracting Parties to Improve the Review Process for the Joint Convention held in October 2016 and will also be participating in the Third Extraordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Joint Convention which will take place in May 2017.
My country welcomes the encouraging efforts undertaken by the Agency in promoting wider adherence to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, as well as fostering active participation in the peer review processes in these areas.
South Africa is a Contracting Party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), and will serve as one the rapporteurs of the Seventh Review Meeting on the Convention on Nuclear Safety which is scheduled to be held later this month.
South Africa continues to follow trends on various projects on the subject of spent fuel which have been initiated and led by the IAEA. Currently these projects are aimed at exploring the possibilities of a multinational approach in dealing with spent fuel. The benefits of the multinational approach is said to be in the main related to societal, financial, and ethical factors. However, it is vital that Member States uphold the ‘polluter pays principle’.
In this regard, Member States need to consider all important factors, including policy positions of Contracting Parties and the sensitivity of the subject before deciding on the adoption of a particular multinational approach on spent fuel and nuclear waste management.
My delegation welcomes the initiation of the Agency’s regional and international projects on the cradle-to-grave control of sealed radioactive sources, focusing on the management of sources at the end of their lifespan. My delegation also takes note of the Agency’s assistance to Member States that are actively pursuing borehole disposal as an option for disused sealed radioactive sources. South Africa through NECSA has specialised skills in the area of borehole disposal technology as well as in the mobile hot cell technology. In collaboration with the IAEA, South Africa has been able to provide valuable technical assistance and expertise in this area. It is in this context that South Africa participated in the Meeting on Sustaining Cradle-to-Grave Control of Radioactive Sources which was held in Slovenia in July 2016.
As indicated in the Nuclear Safety Review 2017, South Africa welcomes the establishment of an internal Peer Review and Advisory Services Committee aimed at assessing the overall structure of all review services offered by the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. My delegation supports the Committee’s efforts to identify appropriate methods of monitoring and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of relevant services. It is hoped that this envisaged approach will go a long way in strengthening and streamlining the assistance that the Agency can provide upon request in the areas of nuclear safety and security.
In continuing to strengthen its regulatory framework, South Africa had requested an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission. The IAEA team conducted its preparatory IRRS mission in June 2016, followed by the main mission which took place in December 2016. The recent IRRS Mission highlighted the need to ensure the effective independence of the regulatory bodies; and the need to harmonise the nuclear and radiological regulatory framework.
Addressing these common issues will ensure that the lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident are taken into account. The Peer Review under the Conventions and the various Missions such the IRRS should be done on a regular basis. This will ensure a common approach to global nuclear safety.
In an effort to promote nuclear safety a national level, my delegation is pleased to announce that South Africa hosted its first inaugural National Nuclear Regulatory Information Conference in October last year. The conference attracted more than 180 participants from both South Africa and abroad. The conference highlighted the importance of promoting nuclear safety regulation and creating a platform for key nuclear role-players to exchange information on safety and security related topics in both nuclear fuel cycle and radiation facilities.
In addition the South African National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) launched the Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Safety and Security (CNSS) in September last year, making it South Africa’s first applied research and training establishment dedicated to developing essential skills demanded by South Africa’s nuclear industry. This Centre is envisaged to have many benefits, and one of the most important is to maintain and improve the nuclear safety and security of the country’s nuclear facilities and installations.
The Centre is also expected to provide a positive contribution to some of the socio-economic challenges faced by South Africa. It will also assist in the creation of a centralized repository of nuclear knowledge needed to grow the needed pool of nuclear engineers and professionals in the country.
In this context, South Africa will continue to make effective use of all Agency training programmes and mechanisms for capacity building in all relevant nuclear fields and spheres.
With these remarks, my delegation takes note of document GOV/2017/3.
I thank you.