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ONR attends US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's 36th Regulatory Information Conference

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) played an active part in the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 36th Regulatory Information Conference (NRC RIC) in Maryland.

ONR’s delegation was led by Mark Foy, its Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, who was supported by Paul Fyfe Director of Regulation – Security and Safeguards, Paul Shanes, ONR’s Professional Lead for Cyber Security and Information Assurance and Marc McBride, ONR’s Deputy Professional Lead on Leadership and Management for Safety.

The annual conference brings together thousands of participants from across the globe, including regulators, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, academia, industry, media and members of the public, to discuss a broad range of topics in the fields of nuclear safety security and safeguards.

The theme of this year's three-day conference was 'Adapting to a Changing Landscape', focusing on the most pressing issues in all countries' nuclear sectors and common regulatory challenges.

Within RIC technical sessions, Mark, Paul and Marc delivered separate presentations on Risk Informed Regulation, The Future of Nuclear Cyber Security and Leadership and Safety Culture which all provided insight into the work of ONR in these areas and its international work.

(From left - Fernando Franco Mattila, president of CSN and Chair of ENSREG Juan Carlos Lentijo, Mark Foy and Paul Shanes)

Earlier in the week, ONR signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the US NRC and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), a foundation to collaborate with fellow regulatory colleagues on the assessment of Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Modular Reactor designs.

ONR subsequently joined US NRC, CNSC, Tennessee Valley Authority, Ontario Power Generation and GE Hitachi, as the ‘Group of Six’, to discuss progress with joint regulatory assessments of the BWRX-300 technology and to agree the next areas of joint regulatory focus. Colleagues from the Polish National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA) and Orlen Synthos Green Energy also observed.

(The Group of Six)

Mark met with each of the US NRC’s commissioners during the week, including the NRC Chair, Chris Hanson.

Topics of mutual interest included meeting the industry and regulatory skills needs; agile, effective and efficient regulation, delivering timely decisions; implementing risk informed regulation; performance metrics; and Great British Nuclear.

Bilateral exchanges were held with counterparts from regulatory bodies in Spain, France Netherlands, Ukraine and Hungary with discussions on joint learning, future cooperation and mutual support.

(Paul Fyfe, left and Mark Foy)

In Mark’s role as Chair of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA), he met with the Chair of the European Technical Safety Organisations Network and with the Chair of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group to explore how to improve relationships and consider future options for formalising arrangements to better work together.

Mark said: "This was an engaging and stimulating event with vital conversations with international regulatory partners helping us to reflect and enhance how we deliver our mission to protect society in an ever-changing environment.

It provided a great opportunity for us to hear how we can help and support others, as many of our international colleagues face similar challenges to those we face ourselves.” The 36th Regulatory Information Conference welcomed more than 3,000 registrants during the three days, including participants from 53 different countries, reflecting the global reach and importance of the event.