An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission said Singapore is committed to maintaining and strengthening its regulatory framework for radiation safety and noted areas which would benefit from further enhancements.

This was the first IRRS mission to Singapore concluded its nine-day visit on 19 October. It was conducted at the request of the Government of Singapore and hosted by the National Environment Agency (NEA) which regulates radiation safety.

The team, comprising 12 senior regulatory experts from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, as well as three IAEA staff members, reviewed the regulatory oversight of facilities and activities using radiation sources, including waste management and decommissioning, emergency preparedness and response, and occupational, medical and public exposure control.

“The legal and regulatory system is well established for safety of radiation sources,” said the IRRS team leader Ritva Bly, Principal Adviser at the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. “Further efforts are needed to update safety regulations to be fully in line with IAEA Safety Standards and to further enhance regulatory activities.”

Singapore has no NPPs but utilises radioactive sources in medical, industrial and research applications. During the mission, the team accompanied NEA during its inspections and oversight activities at industrial and medical facilities, including the largest hospital in the country, Singapore General Hospital. The inputs from the mission will help guide the strengthening of radiation safety practices,” said NEA CEO Luke Goh.

The IRRS team identified a number of areas of good performance that could serve as a model of implementation for other countries, such as:

  • Singapore’s active participation in IAEA initiatives and technical committees, and regional and global networks and associations, related to radiation safety, despite its limited scope of licensable activities.
  • The NEA’s transparent regulatory activities supported by Singapore’s modern information and communications technology infrastructure.

The IRRS team made several recommendations and suggestions to improve the regulatory system and the effectiveness of the regulatory functions in line with IAEA safety standards, including:

  • Establishment of a national policy and strategy for safety and for the management of radioactive waste.
  • Establishment of a regulatory framework for existing exposure situations such as exposure to natural background radiation.
  • Further coordination of the authorities that have responsibilities for safety.
  • Continuous building of competences for personnel with responsibilities in the area of safety.

Recommendations and suggestions for NEA included:

  • Continuous improvement of legislation and regulations on radiation safety to align them with international safety standards.
  • Continuous building of competences for personnel with responsibilities in the area of radiation safety.
  • Further development of regulatory activities with application of the graded approach such as improvement of the emergency preparedness and response regulations.

The final mission report will be provided to NEA in about three months. Singapore plans to make the report public.

Image: Singapore General Hospital, one of the medical facilities visited by the IAEA's IRRS team (courtesy of Thomson Adsett Architects)