The harmonisation of the regulatory framework – the need for a “common language”

The recently published document “WNA Cordel – A Framework for International Regulatory Efficiency to Accelerate Nuclear Deployment” represents a significant step forward in the efforts to achieve the harmonisation of the Regulatory Framework which is recognized as being an essential condition for promoting development at an international level of a fleet of standardised designs acceptable in multiple countries around the world.

Among the suggestions made, we particularly note that which suggests “develop a common vision for success and objectives.” This involves in particular an effort by the Regulators in terms of “Processes and methodologies for joint review activities” and in particular through “Continuous efforts towards the development of common safety objectives, requirements, and expectations”. Likewise, a series of actions is suggested to industry (reactor vendors and licensees) which range from “Ensure that their reactor designs are sufficiently mature so that the design substantiations submitted to national regulators are complete, enabling efficient application of the regulatory assessment process” to the “Technology demonstrations to develop required justification”. International organizations are invited to support the actions listed above.

This is perhaps implicit in the recommendations formulated, but the success of the actions envisaged requires a prerequisite which must be recognised as being important, if not essential, and formulated in an explicit manner. It is that of the development of a common language which makes dialogue between the different stakeholders easier.

While it is perfectly true that the main principles underlying nuclear safety are shared by everyone, it is equally true that the interpretation of these principles can differ significantly. The sometimes subjective vision/representation that one may have of the installation must give way to a vision that is as objective and unambiguous as possible so that the evaluation can easily be shared. This materialises in what, a few years ago, was described as a “paradigm shift” which is one of the objectives that Nuclear 21 has set itself in the discussions undertaken, whether internally or as part of the projects in which we participate.

The bases of this language, which are, among other things, the fruit of reflections carried out over several years, in particular within the framework of consulting activities carried out at the IAEA and the GenIV – Risk and Safety Working Group, are sketched in our document.

Mr. Gian-Luigi Fiorini