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Nuclear Safety Conference Opens in Vienna

Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety Opens

Delegates at the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

A five-day Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, convened by the IAEA in Vienna commenced on Monday, 20 June 2011. In the wake of the 11 March 2011 nuclear accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan that was caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, the Conference was called to identify the lessons learned from the accident and to strengthen nuclear safety throughout the world. In many countries, the accident and its aftermath have shaken public confidence in the safety of nuclear power plants.

Opened by its President, Ambassador Antonio Guerreiro of Brazil, the Conference will be addressed by the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, to be followed by Ministers and high-level officials delivering national statements.

Ministerial Conference

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano stated that, "The IAEA, with its broad membership and unrivalled expertise in all aspects of nuclear energy and nuclear safety, is the focal point for international follow-up to the Fukushima Daiichi accident."

The IAEA's Ministerial Conference will provide an opportunity to discuss, at the ministerial and senior technical level, broader issues relating to nuclear safety. The IAEA International Fact Finding Expert Mission's report will be presented to Ministers, offering a preliminary assessment of the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and recommending actions for safety improvements. The Conference will also discuss the IAEA's central role in nuclear safety issues and how best to mobilize the IAEA's unique breadth and depth of experience and expertise in coordinating efforts to ensure that the most robust nuclear safety standards are applied as broadly as possible internationally.

Working sessions will cover future actions for the continuous improvement of nuclear installation safety, the initial response to the accident, emergency preparedness and response, lessons learned in response to the accident and the way forward, as well as the global nuclear safety framework. A wide range of experts will participate in working sessions, including representatives from nuclear regulatory agencies, technical service organizations, international organizations and NGOs.

During the Conference, Ministers are expected to adopt a Declaration expressing their resolve to enhance nuclear safety around the world.

Post-Fukushima Nuclear Safety Framework

Looking forward to the Conferenc's outcome the Director General said, "The Ministerial Conference will be part of a lengthy process of establishing a comprehensive post-Fukushima nuclear safety framework, building on the valuable system that is already in place."

Background

The IAEA responded immediately to the accident: the Incident and Emergency Centre was activated, Director General Amano visited Japan, the IAEA Board of Governors was convened to discuss the IAEA response to the accident, a number of specialized expert missions were dispatched to Japan to assist in understanding the accident and to provide assistance and expertise, including, more recently, a 10-day Fact Finding Mission. Since 15 March 2011, the IAEA Secretariat has been providing regular briefings for Member States and the international media.

On 30 March 2011, the Director General called for a Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety, with broad support from Member States.

See Story Resources for more information.

-- By Peter Kaiser, IAEA Division of Public Information


(Note to Media: We encourage you to republish these stories and kindly request attribution to the IAEA).