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Topnews, Statements

05. March 2018

STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE/GOVERNOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 5 MARCH 2018, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 2: STRENGTHENING THE AGENCY’S ACTIVITIES RELATED TO NUCLEAR, RADIATION, TRANSPORT AND WASTE SAFETY

Chairperson,

South Africa associates itself with the statement delivered by the African Group, and the Group of 77 and China respectively. My delegation would like to make the following statement in its national capacity.

Chairperson,

South Africa welcomes the 2018 Nuclear Safety Review Report and commends the Secretariat for the activities undertaken during the period under review to support Member States’ efforts in strengthening the safety of nuclear, radiation, transport and waste.

The 2018 Nuclear safety report alludes to an increasing demand by Member States for the Agency’s review and advisory services across all safety areas. Like most countries, South Africa greatly values and appreciates these services. As may be recalled, in 2016 at our request, the IAEA conducted an Integrated Regulatory Review Service Mission (IRRS) in order to review our country’s regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety.  We are pleased that good progress is being made in implementing the recommendations of this mission.

To expedite the implementation process, South Africa has included specific activities in the new IAEA Technical Cooperation National Projects focussing on among others, the IAEA Expert Missions to Regulatory Bodies, as well as scientific visits and fellowships in order to strengthen the regulatory framework.  IAEA experts have recently been conducting training and advice to the staff of our National Regulator on Integrated Management System and Inspection Training Programmes.  More IAEA Expert Missions are planned in 2018 and in future to improve the Public Communication Programmes; strengthen the regulatory framework for remediation and review Safety Culture and comprehensive Regulatory Training Programmes.  We understand that peer review services, and their sustainability, largely depend on the availability of experts from Member States. That is why we are pleased that South African experts continue to be part of various Missions to other countries and will continue to do so in the future.

Chairperson,

South Africa also appreciates the Agency’s programme for Long Term Operation (LTO) and ageing management of nuclear installations. According to the Nuclear Safety Report 2018, at the end of last year 50 percent of the 448 nuclear power reactors currently in operation are 30 to 40 years old. In 2024 our own nuclear power plant (Koeberg) will reach 40 years. We have thus developed a programme for the long term operation (LTO) of Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.  Accordingly the LTO programme for Koeberg includes the IAEA SALTO Missions. In this regard, in 2015 the Koeberg Pre-SALTO Mission was conducted and the next Pre-SALTO Mission is scheduled for 2018.

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 life.  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, and with the support of the Agency, has developed specialised skills in the area of the 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.

Chairperson,

One other important area of interest noted in the Report is the support provided by the Agency to Member States to develop and or strengthen their regulatory effectiveness in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety, and in emergency preparedness and response. In our continent the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA) was established in 2009 in order to strengthen and harmonise radiation and nuclear safety and security regulatory infrastructures in its Member Countries and to serve as an effective platform for the exchange of regulatory experiences and practices among the nuclear regulatory bodies. South Africa coordinates three Thematic Working Groups of the NRBA relating to Nuclear Power Plant Licencing, Transport and Emergency Preparedness and Response. Thus we appreciate the dynamic engagement between the Agency and FNRBA in the aforementioned areas and broadly, the commitment as stated in the Report by the Agency to assist FNRBA Member States in developing a project roadmap that addresses matters encountered by regulatory bodies in Africa.

Given the number of new countries, around 30, that are actively considering or planning a nuclear power programme we welcome the support provided by the Agency and the work carried out in the area of nuclear safety infrastructure for embarking countries. We are pleased to see such support for countries in Africa. On our part we have also started providing training fellowships to potentially embarking countries through the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme.

Chairperson

Without the valuable work carried out by the IAEA Commission on Safety Standards and the six Review Committees the IAEA would not be able to issue the safety standards which as we all know provide a system of Safety Fundamentals, Safety Requirements and Safety Guides for ensuring safety. Our experts and officials actively participate in these committees. We appreciate the opportunity provided to an expert from our National Nuclear Regulator to have chaired the IAEA Transport Safety Standards Committee up to 2017.

Let us also welcome the positive progress by the Agency in translating the technical elements of the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety into relevant IAEA Safety Requirements, taking into account the lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi incident.

Finally, South Africa looks forward to the 6th Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management which is scheduled to take place in May this year (2018) under the Presidency of South Africa’s Head of the National Nuclear Regulator.

Chairperson,

With regard to item 2b: “Draft Safety Requirements: Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, 2018 Edition”, as a Member State, South Africa acknowledges that transport safety has a  global span of control so that regulations provide for harmonised standards from country to country. Its importance cannot be over emphasised as a common basis impacting not only on transboundary movements, but also on safety concomitant with marine, road and aviation transportation. South Africa, having been party to the review and update of the 2012 Edition, and having consulted with its national regulatory bodies and relevant governmental departments involved with transportation, supports the approval of the Draft 2018 Edition. In consideration of the foregoing matters, South Africa sees no known impediment why it cannot adopt the standards, once it has been approved by the Board of Governors.

With these remarks, my delegation takes note of document GOV/2018/4.

I thank you.

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