The IAEA's Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) has completed a 10-day review of the UK's Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
The review focused on areas not looked at during previous missions including: waste management; decommissioning; radioactive sources; radiation protection and lessons from Fukushima.
The IRRS findings show the UK has made "considerable progress" since reviews in 2006 and 2009, IAEA said. The 15-member review team identified areas of good practice and also made recommendations aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the UK's regulatory framework.
"The staff of ONR is clearly dedicated to their mission to secure the protection of people and society from the hazards of the nuclear industry. I am confident that ONR will use the results of this mission to further enhance their regulatory programmes,"
said Bill Borchardt, mission leader and former executive director of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
IRRS cited examples of good practices include: engagement with prospective licensees, the spelling out of detailed ONR guidelines and their application in the regulatory assessment, and the use of radioactive waste management cases that describe how safety and environmental performance will be assured for all waste streams.
The mission also identified areas in need of attention or improvement.
"ONR should continue to ensure that it has the necessary human resources to fulfil its statutory obligations, review its training programme and develop a timetable for the full integration of its organisation," IAEA said.
The review team also urged ONR to "fully implement" its integrated management system to include all requirements to manage the organization and promote and support a strong safety culture.
It said that the government, together with devolved administrations in the UK should continue to implement policy and develop strategies for all radioactive waste streams, and that it should review the implementation of legal arrangements and ensure that all organizations, with responsibility for safety, involved in decommissioning activities and in the management of radioactive waste, are held accountable.
Finally, the IRRS team suggested that ONR should review its approach to authorising decommissioning plans and its guidance for decommissioning.
A full report is due to be released in January 2014, which ONR said it intends to make public.
Reflecting on the visit, ONR's chief executive John Jenkins said that the mission's comments are "testament to ONR's expertise, dedication and openness."
Photo: Members of the IAEA IRRS Team and ONR counterparts photographed during the IRRS UK Follow Up mission exit meeting at the ONR headquarters in Liverpool (Source: IAEA)