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Integrated Regulatory Review Service Mission to the United States

Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) is a service offered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to compare a member country’s nuclear regulatory approach against international safety standards and good practices.

The review process began in 2007 when the NRC requested this regulatory peer review to demonstrate its strong commitment to nuclear safety, continuous improvement, critical self-assessment and information-sharing with the international community. 

The review is carried out in three phases:

  1. a self assessment (conducted in 2007 and 2009);
  2. a peer review onsite (October 17–29, 2010);
  3. a follow-up peer review (18-24 months following the peer review).

As the host regulator, the NRC began phase two in October 2010 by providing to the IRRS team a detailed self-assessment of 10 core subject areas covering U.S. nuclear reactor safety regulations and their relationship to IAEA safety standards. The IRRS team provided an independent peer review of the self-assessment, interviewed NRC staff, examined documents and observed NRC inspectors conducting inspection activities. The IRRS team drafted a report outlining its observations and recommendations at the conclusion of the visit. In March 2011  the IRRS provided the final IRRS report from the October 2010 peer review onsite visit.

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About IAEA:

The IAEA was set up as the world´s "Atoms for Peace" organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

The IAEA´s mission is guided by the interests and needs of Member States, strategic plans and the vision embodied in the IAEA Statute. Three main pillars - or areas of work - underpin the IAEA´s mission: Safety and Security; Science and Technology; and Safeguards and Verification.

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About the IRRS Peer Review:

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service offers missions to countries for reviewing regulatory issues and assessing their regulatory infrastructure development against international safety standards and good regulatory practices. The mission’s dual technical and policy reviews examine a country’s complete national regulatory infrastructure. The IAEA organizes an international team of experts to review legislative frameworks; management operations; and regulatory requirements and activities, including licensing, review, assessment, compliance, and rulemaking.

A country hosting an IRRS mission first self-assesses its approach and compares it to IAEA safety standards, using the IRRS guidelines and associated questionnaires. The host country uses the self-assessment to identify its strengths and areas for improvement in both its regulatory framework and regulatory practices. The IRRS mission team, consisting of up to 20 international senior regulators, independently peer reviews the host regulator to evaluate the self-assessment and the regulator’s planned actions. The IRRS mission concludes with a followup meeting 18 to 24 months after the team visit to review the actions taken as a result of the mission.

The IRRS benefits both the regulators and the reviewers through the exchange of information on nuclear regulatory organizational structure and practices. IAEA also witnesses how its recommended safety standards are taken into consideration by nations that follow their own unique national standards.

IAEA has conducted IRRS missions in the United Kingdom, Romania, France, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, and China. Reviews have been requested and are planned for Pakistan, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Korea.

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IRRS Peer Review in the United States:

The IRRS peer review of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will take place October 17–29, 2010. During these 2 weeks, the NRC will share information on its strong commitment to nuclear safety and continuous improvement with the international community through critical self-assessment.

This is the NRC’s first IRRS mission; however NRC representatives have participated in other countries’ missions. The U.S. has provided staff to participate in 11 IRRS missions to other countries.

Although an IRRS mission normally examines all aspects of civilian nuclear regulation, the team’s visit to the NRC will focus solely on the operating power reactor program, including a review of processes for travel, budget, internal controls, and staffing. The review will be divided into 12 subject areas, or “modules,” along with four white papers on additional topics for discussion.

The peer review team will include 22 guests who will be divided into groups to attend various lectures and activities. The team includes 1 team leader, 1 deputy team leader, 13 peer review team members, 4 IAEA staff members, and 3 observers.

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IRRS Peer Review Team Leaders:

Team Leader:

  • Jukka Laaksonen, Director General, Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland

Deputy Team Leader:

  • Kunihisa Soda, Senior Advisor, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Japan

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IRRS Modules:

  • Core Modules
    • Module 1: Responsibilities and Functions of the Government
    • Module 2: Global Nuclear Safety Regime
    • Module 3: Responsibilities and Functions of the Regulatory Body
    • Module 4: Management Systems of the Regulatory Body
    • Module 5: Authorization
    • Module 6: Review and Assessment
    • Module 7: Inspection
    • Module 8: Enforcement
    • Module 9: Regulations and Guides
    • Module 10: Emergency Preparedness and Response

  • Thematic Modules
    • Module 11a: Periodic Safety Review
    • Module 11b: Feedback of Operating Experience

  • Optional Module
    • Module 12: Interfaces with Nuclear Security

  • Elective Policy Issues
    • Transparency and Openness
    • Long-Term Operation and Aging Management of Nuclear Facilities
    • Human Resources and Knowledge Management

  • White Paper
    • U.S. Approach to Enhancing Safety

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012