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IRRS Mission 2019 gets underway

Today marks the start of a major international review of the UK's regulatory framework for nuclear and radiological safety.

Coordinated through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Mission sees a team of 18 independent experts from across the globe scrutinising the regulation of safety across civil nuclear, radiological sources and the transport of radioactive materials.

The Mission brings together senior nuclear regulators with the aim of identifying areas of good practice and opportunities for improvement.

This will be the fifth IRRS Mission to the UK, but the first 'full-scope' Mission - encompassing occupational radiological protections, nuclear safety, medical and non-medical exposures, public exposures and environmental protection, transport of radioactive material, and emergency preparedness and response.

During their visit, the expert team will carry out a wide-range of interviews and policy discussions and visit selected nuclear and radiological-related sites to observe inspection and other regulatory practices in the field.

The Mission was requested on behalf of the UK by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It is the culmination of months of preparation and collaboration between 15 regulatory bodies, five Government Departments and their equivalents in the Devolved Administrations.

The 11-day visit will be hosted and co-ordinated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

Dr Anthony Hart, ONR Deputy Chief Nuclear Inspector and Project Sponsor for the Mission, said: "Over recent months a considerable amount of preparatory work has been undertaken across the regulatory bodies and government departments to produce evidence for the Mission team. This included a detailed self-assessment of how well the UK meets IAEA standards and guidance.

"Like any detailed scrutiny of this kind, we expect the review will unearth areas for improvement alongside examples of good regulatory practice.

"Identifying areas of improvement will be beneficial to safety, enabling the UK Government and regulators to benchmark our current approaches and providing impetus to close any potential gaps.

"We look forward to working with the expert team to support our mutual desire to enhance nuclear and radiological safety in the UK and abroad."

The IAEA team will compile a report on the effectiveness of the UK’s regulatory infrastructure. The UK intends to publish the final report, subject to Ministerial agreement, in February 2020.