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ONR joins international safety review mission to Sweden

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has joined a mission to Sweden to evaluate their regulatory infrastructure against IAEA required safety standards.

Donald Urquhart, ONR's Executive Director of Regulation, is part of a 23-strong team visiting the Scandinavian country during the next two weeks for an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS).

Commonly known as an 'IRRS mission', Donald is representing the UK with a group of similar technical experts, drawn from different Member States and personnel from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to assess Sweden's framework for nuclear safety.

Other countries taking part in this mission are the USA, Canada, Lithuania, Switzerland, Pakistan, Spain, The Czech Republic, Argentina, South Africa, Belgium, France, Denmark, Romania, Slovenia and Germany.

The IRRS mission is examining Sweden's practical arrangements for regulating its nuclear facilities and radiological activities against relevant IAEA safety guidance and standards.

Donald is leading a review focusing on the Swedish authorisation processes, including nuclear operating facilities, radioactive waste management, decommissioning, industrial, medical and public and worker exposures.

A formal report will be written and handed over to the Swedish regulatory authorities at the end of the mission, and the findings later published on the IAEA website.

It will feature a series of suggestions for improvements, good practices identified, and recommendations to help the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority to improve its regulation and address any gaps in compliance with IAEA requirements.

The intergovernmental organisation expects IAEA member states to implement all recommendations identified by the mission team.

States that request and then host IRRS missions are encouraged to invite a follow-up mission within four years to review progress implementing the suggestions and recommendations.

Donald said: "I'm really looking forward to assisting the Swedish regulatory community, but also to learn from their good practices for the benefit of ONR.

"I'm also delighted to be able to support the IAEA in ensuring its safety standards are delivered in Sweden.

"I welcome working with senior regulators from many different countries to build my own and ONR's network and learning from colleagues on the mission."

ONR's leading role in this mission to Sweden demonstrates our strong standing within the international nuclear community and we welcome the invitation to show our support for this crucial IAEA function.

IRRS missions are not viewed as inspections, but constructive exercises helping countries maintain full compliance with global nuclear regulations and promulgate good practices so regulators can achieve even higher standards.

Donald and others are working closely with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority during their time in Stockholm while his colleagues are also spending time in the field visiting licensed nuclear sites, observing the regulator's inspection processes.

In 2019, the UK had its own IRRS mission with many good practices recognised at ONR, regulatory bodies and relevant UK authorities highlighted within the subsequent 2020 report.