A Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Regulation of Nuclear and Radiation Safety has been signed by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) of China, strengthening co-operation between both parties.

One of the goals of the co-operation will be to share experience on the effective regulation and oversight of nuclear safety, as well as best practices in licensing and oversight of civil nuclear facilities. The agreement also foresees co-operation on nuclear safety research, the development of international legal frameworks and the performance of analyses which are essential for the safe and environmentally friendly use of nuclear energy, NEA said.

The memorandum of understanding between the NEA and the NNSA represents the culmination of several years of growing collaboration between China and the Agency, and complements the Joint Declaration on Co-operation which was signed by the NEA and the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) in 2013. The CAEA is responsible for developing policies on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy as well as developing programmes, planning and industrial standards. It supervises and co-ordinates China’s major nuclear research and development projects and co-operates with international organisations. It represents China at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), NEA said.

"The MOU will further strengthen co-operation between the nuclear regulatory authorities of NEA member countries and the NNSA, as well as general efforts to continue enhancing nuclear safety at the global level," said NEA Acting Director-General Thierry Dujardin, adding that "it will also help deepen our respective knowledge and understanding of nuclear and radiation safety, not only as regards nuclear reactor safety, but also in the areas of radiological protection and radioactive waste management."

The NNSA establishes the principles, policies and regulations in China related to the safe use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Its responsibilities include licensing civilian use of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities, reviewing the safety performance of nuclear energy facilities, organising research on nuclear safety, examining the status of emergency planning and preparedness, and providing related public information, NEA said.

In the area of nuclear energy, China has been involved since 2006 in two programmes for which the NEA acts as Technical Secretariat. China is a member of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), an international research and development initiative for the next generation of nuclear energy systems. China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) participates in the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP), an international forum of nuclear regulators which is reviewing new reactor designs. In addition, China currently participates in two joint projects under NEA auspices, one on information sharing on occupational radiological protection and the other on mitigating hydrogen risks in nuclear power plants.

China is a major player in the nuclear energy field with 19 operational nuclear power reactors and a further 29 under construction. Additional units are planned in line with the country’s decision to increase its reliance on nuclear energy, NEA said.
NEA membership consists of 31 member countries. The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing, through international co-operation, the scientific, technological and legal bases required for a safe, environmentally friendly and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.