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ONR chairs panel at ministerial nuclear conference in USA

"A strong, independent regulator is an essential cornerstone to any successful nuclear programme," was the clear message from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) at last week's fifth International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century.

Mark Foy, ONR's Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, moderated a five-strong panel in Washington DC, USA, organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Last Friday's session, titled 'Enhancing Confidence: Effective Regulatory Oversight for the Future of Nuclear Energy', focused on global and national efforts to meet expectations for harmonised approaches and continued effective regulatory regimes to enable the safe deployment of advanced and future nuclear technologies.

Mark was joined by Rumina Velshi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Liisa Heikinheimo, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland, Chris Hanson, Chairman, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Jay Wileman, President and CEO, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

Referencing the UK government's proposals for a range of gigawatt and small modular reactor projects as part of the British Energy Security Strategy to reach a target of 24GW nuclear capacity by 2050, Mark spoke of the appetite among the international regulatory community to ‘do things differently’ and create conditions whereby new build projects can operate through a stable and progressive regulatory environment.

He also highlighted the critical role that ONR, and other regulators, have to help industry to work in ways that are safe, secure and sustainable, and which offer best value.

Also discussed was international collaboration between national regulatory bodies to harmonise approaches to licensing and assessment of new reactor technologies.

Mark said: "We have a critical role to play in helping to achieve predictability for the time, cost and quality of nuclear projects.

"With our unique overarching knowledge and experience of the industry, ONR is seeking ways in which we can help influence and inform, but with the underpinning requirement to act in the interests of public safety and security."

This ministerial conference in the USA followed similar events in Paris (2005), Beijing (2009), St. Petersburg (2013) and Abu Dhabi (2017).