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ONR hosts climate change meeting with international regulators

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has hosted a meeting with fellow international regulators to discuss the implications of climate change on the nuclear sector.

The meeting between ONR, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the Dutch Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS), and Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) provided opportunities to share learning and discuss how each regulator considers climate change when regulating their industries.

Given the environmental similarities between the four nations, it is considered that there is significant benefit in sharing expectations and regulatory approaches, and comparing the maturity of the respective countries’ preparedness to withstand the potential consequences of climate change.

The meeting was chaired by Donald Urquhart, ONR’s Executive Director of Regulation. All types of nuclear facilities within participant countries were within the scope of the meeting, over all areas of regulatory authority (e.g., safety, security, environmental protection, continuity of supply).

The effect of climate change, and ensuring new and existing nuclear facilities remain safe and secure as a result, is a major topic for ONR. The discussion confirmed that this is also true for our fellow international regulators.

ONR actively engages with licensees about their consideration of climate change in nuclear safety cases, which should include conservatively derived allowances in their design basis for external hazards potentially affected by climate change.

The ongoing Chief Nuclear Inspector’s themed inspections on climate change will ensure effective regulation in this area, and meeting with European counterparts helps build greater knowledge to plan for the future challenges.

Nuclear sites must remain safe and secure from hazards, including rising sea levels and increasing temperatures. Aligning with national and international guidance, standards and good practice is vital for the effective regulation of climate change at each stage of a nuclear site’s lifecycle.

Donald Urquhart, ONR’s Executive Director of Regulation, said: “This was an important meeting with our counterparts in France, Belgium and the Netherlands for progressive discussions about regulating effectively in the face of climate change and protecting the nuclear industry from its potentially adverse effects.

“Sharing experiences and growing our international networks to collaborate on this global issue is essential in preparing the nuclear industry for the effects of climate change.

“We look forward to continuing to work with these regulators, and others, to continue to share best practice and experiences in this area.”

Philip Somers, Coordinating Specialist Inspector at ANVS, said: “It is very valuable to share experiences on the topic of climate change with the regulators of the UK, Belgium and France.

"Although we are all in close proximity of each other, the effects of climate change differ per country.

"The exchange highlighted differences as well as similarities in our approach. All in all, it was a very good start for further collaboration and exchanges on this topic.”