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ONR joins fellow international regulators in Germany

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) represented the UK at the 53rd International Nuclear Regulators Association (INRA) meeting in Germany.

Mark Foy, ONR's Chief Executive and Chief Nuclear Inspector, and Paul Dicks, ONR's Director of Regulation for Sellafield, Decommissioning Fuel and Waste, were part of the biannual gathering for heads of regulatory bodies to provide updates and share experiences on current issues.

INRA is made up of nine member countries - Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the United States.

The association, established in 1997, exchanges regulatory policy, good practice and emerging challenges to further nuclear safety and security standards on a global level.

The meeting heard from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) about the ongoing conflict within their country.

This allowed INRA members to consider areas of potential joint effort, coordination, and the impact of conflict on nuclear safety.

International engagement is important to ONR's regulation as it seeks to influence the development of global standards and guidance for nuclear safety, security and safeguards, enhancing its reputation as a world-leading regulator.

One of the meeting's key themes focused on decommissioning and dismantling, with INRA members sharing their differing regulatory frameworks and approaches, recognising the importance of public and stakeholder participation, involvement and consultation.

To support this discussion, INRA members visited the Phillipsburg Nuclear Power Plant (KKP), close to Karlsruhe.

For 32 years, between 1979-2011, electricity was produced via its boiling water reactor and also from its pressurised water reactor which operated for 35 years between 1984-2019.

Both plants are now being decommissioned and dismantled since 2017 and 2020 respectively.

For the INRA meeting's second topic, members discussed the importance of building trust and confidence through early and continued engagement.

Mark Foy said: “The biannual INRA meetings provide an excellent opportunity to enhance working relationships between the heads of a number of the world’s nuclear regulatory bodies as we discuss the potential future challenges facing national regulators and the industry.

“This was a unique chance to see the progress of decommissioning and prompt dismantling of the Phillipsburg Nuclear Power Plant.

"It was also an opportunity to understand how the operators and regulators in Germany establish effective relationships to ensure that necessary steps are being taken to ensure safe and secure stewardship of these sites and their hazards as they progress broad dismantling programmes.

“INRA recognises the need to continue to explain regulatory judgements and decisions, particularly with dutyholders, government, and interested communities on local, national and international levels to inspire stakeholders and to build and retain trust and confidence.

“Connecting with like-minded regulators who are progressing similar programmes of work, throughout the life cycle of nuclear facilities, and exploring options for closer working and collaboration, was also particularly timely for us."