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Agenda Item 2: Nuclear and radiation safety: Nuclear Safety Review 2023

IAEA Board of Governors

Agenda Item 2: Nuclear and radiation safety: Nuclear Safety Review 2023

6 March 2023

Statement by H.E Mr Richard Sadleir, Governor and Resident Representative of Australia to the IAEA


As this is the first time I take the floor at this Board of Governors meeting, I wish to express Australia’s deepest condolences to all those tragically affected by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. We also praise the IAEA’s response.

Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Director General’s draft Nuclear Safety Review 2023.

The Agency’s key nuclear safety mechanisms are vitally important, and we welcome the Agency’s efforts to assist Member States to improve global nuclear safety.  Australia looks forward to the Joint Eighth and Ninth Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety later this month.  We are honoured that an Australian - the former CEO of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency -  will serve as Vice President of the Review Meeting and Chair of the Open Ended Working Group. This underscores our commitment to international cooperation in nuclear safety and to working constructively with Contracting Parties to further strengthen international approaches to nuclear safety.

Australia is pleased to be one of the Members States referenced in this year’s Nuclear Safety Review as supporting the ‘seven pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security of operational nuclear power plants during an armed conflict’ in relation to the situation in Ukraine. Australia was one of the first countries to contribute equipment to support nuclear safety within Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s unjust and illegal invasion. This a tangible demonstration of our unwavering support for Ukraine.

Australia is keenly interested in the application of Agency safety standards to emerging technology relating to small modular reactors and transportable or floating nuclear power plants. As a strong supporter of harmonising safety requirements, and regulatory and licensing approaches for SMRs, Australia welcomed the Agency’s development of the IAEA ‘SMR Platform’ and the launch of the Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative. We were proud to contribute to harmonisation efforts by hosting a recent regional workshop on SMR regulation.

The IAEA continues to have an important role in the planned release of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The IAEA’s independent and impartial task force assessing the Advanced Liquid Processing System discharge water relative to globally accepted nuclear safety standards is an important mechanism. We have full confidence in the science-based technical advice provided by the task force and welcome the IAEA’s ongoing role in independent oversight before, during and after the planned release of the treated water.

Every day across Australia – as in other Member States - radioactive devices and material are transported and used safely without incident, thanks to the adoption of the Agency’s safety standards and code of conduct.

In January this year, Australia’s responsible authority proactively reported a missing caesium-137 source suspected to have been lost during transportation. This category 4 source had dimensions of only 6mm by 8mm and was suspected to be within an approximately 1400 kilometre long search area in the remote Australian outback.

We are delighted by the safe and successful recovery of this ‘needle in a haystack’, through our well-coordinated emergency preparedness and response arrangements. The response relied on Australia’s people and technical capabilities – including CORIS360 – an advanced radiation imaging technology developed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.  

Though investigations into how the source was lost in the first place are ongoing, we are pleased that lost sources are very unusual in Australia due to our adoption of – and adherence to – the Agency’s Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material.

With these comments, Australia takes note of the draft Nuclear Safety Review 2023.