In a Nov. 1 post on the New York Times , Matt Wald discusses a recent visit to U.S. nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The international nuclear watchdog was in the United States for two weeks at the invitation of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a peer review.
After visiting plants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the delegation of 14 experts from around the world said that that United States has “a transparent licensing process that accepts input from the public citizens and environmental reviews, and ensures that key documents are publicly available.”
Beyond receiving such a positive preliminary review, this visit of the delegation is an important act to support good will towards cooperation in international transparency. NRC Chairman Gergory Jaczko, was quoted in Wald’s post, as saying:
“The team’s visit sends an important signal internationally – this sort of examination of a nation’s regulatory system can advance the cause of nuclear safety not just in one nation but across the globe.”
This component of international review and promotion of safety standards is an important piece in the international nuclear regime. While the agency has no official mandate to inspect reactors in the United States, this level of cooperation is essential to promote international standards. It remains in the best interest of nuclear industry and the regulators throughout the world that they “look over one another’s shoulders.”
A shared responsibility for safety and regulation is important, and Wald as points out, the IAEA is heading to Romania, South Korea, Switzerland, and Poland in the coming months for a similar review.