Sweden says nuclear safety research is underfunded

2 October 2018

Critical areas of nuclear safety research are currently underfunded and education programmes relating to radiation safety are in jeopardy, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) concluded in a study for the government published on 25 September. These are some of the root causes of a vulnerability in the knowledge management system," said SSM Director Anneli Hällgren. SSM said national coordination “is a prerequisite for maintaining competencies over the long term in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection”.

In December 2016, SSM was tasked by the Swedish government to look into long-term knowledge management, including the prerequisites for maintaining national competence in the Authority's area of responsibility, identifying key stakeholders' assumptions for recruitment of staff, identifying sources of research funding, and finding ways to collaborate on future areas of investment. Hällgrend said understanding the knowledge management framework for securing competence in the areas relating to radiation is difficult. "The areas of nuclear safety and radiation protection have mixed characteristics, and the areas of knowledge are spread amongst several scientific disciplines."

If today's and tomorrow's competence needs are to be met, SSM said this “presupposes strengthening the system for knowledge management in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection”. This will require:

  • A comprehensive national strategy with coordinated efforts for achieving a higher level of effectiveness in the knowledge management system;
  • Increased funding for a critical core of research environments to ensure an ongoing and minimum level of scientific expertise  in parallel with increased funding for related research environments;
  • Formalised interaction between stakeholders in the system for central government research funding;
  • Guaranteeing availability of education programmes critical to society in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection.

SSM said several stakeholders should perform informative action and run campaigns for the purpose of attracting students so that they enrol in nuclear safety and radiation protection programmes, and choose occupations in the field.

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