International nuclear safety centre

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    • There are 436 nuclear power reactors in operation worldwide, and over 50 reactors are under construction. Large number of countries without any previous nuclear experience considers implementation of nuclear power programmes in the next decade. There is also a strong interest among countries currently operating nuclear power reactors to maintain these reactors in operation and extend their licenses to 60 and even to 80 years. These are changes that will require, despite nuclear power has proven be safe and economic, enhanced and continuing attention to safety that must be maintained in the years ahead.

    • Especially important is the safety assessment capacity as the primary means for decision making in support of design, licensing and operation activities. Bearing in mind public concerns about nuclear risks and with increase in the demand for nuclear energy comes the need to increase global safety assessment capacity for new nuclear power plant, and the need to assist Member States in the applications of integrated safety assessment approach in order to reach informed safety decisions based on IAEA safety standards

The General conference resolution number GC(53) 27 on nuclear installation safety urges the Secretariat to continue its effort to develop services and tools that support Member States in promoting the safety of existing and new reactor designs. Also, resolution GC (53) 70 supports the Secretariat’s continued focus on developing sustainable educational and training programmes.

The International Nuclear Safety Assessment Centre (INSAC) was established at the end of 2009, to support States with established nuclear programmes as well as those considering starting new nuclear power programmes. INSAC works with them to strengthen their nuclear safety infrastructures though technical support and capacity building, providing leadership and management of nuclear safety, based on a structured, integrated approach.

Again the General Conference in 2010, resolutions GC(54)RES/7 (6, 8 and 9) recognized and encouraged the Agency to continue its effort in facilitating the developments of Member States’ nuclear safety infrastructure.

INSAC is a channel to unify and expand nuclear safety technical assistance efforts based upon some of the recently developed knowledge and capacity building activities within the Division of Nuclear Installation Safety, for example:
- Centre for Advanced Assessment Tools (CASAT) - Launched in 2006-2007 as a platform for transfer of advanced safety assessment knowledge and tools based on IAEA’s Safety Standards. CASAT has broadened networking and collaboration capabilities with a flexible software system tailored to support and sustain long-term projects and safety assessment activities including the development of simulator training and advanced techniques for knowledge transfer and capacity building
- GRSR - In September 2007 the Division of Nuclear Installation Safety (NSNI) has developed a Generic Reactor Safety Review (GRSR) process to provide Member States with an early evaluation of safety cases of these reactors against the IAEA Safety Standards. GRSR has been implemented successfully in both advanced and conceptual reactor design evaluation. Over the past two years a total of six reactors have been reviewed thus far. Currently, this methodology is being transformed into training programme for self-application by Member States. philosophy
- SAET - In 2008 resources were allocated for the development of the Safety Assessment Education and Training Programme (SAET) to provide advanced and a comprehensive safety assessment training and capacity building programmes for Member States.


The statute of the IAEA authorise to foster the exchange of technical information on the peaceful use of atomic energy and to encourage the exchange and training of experts in the field of safety. The review mechanism of the Convention of Nuclear Safety is a corner stone of the Agency approach in enhancing openness, transparency and cooperation between Member States. More recently, June 2009, the European Union has adopted and published the Nuclear Safety Directive which is mainly based on the IAEA Safety Fundamentals.

    • This centre of excellence will further expand IAEA capacity building effort, enhance its support to Member States in harmonizing safety assessment approaches worldwide and be a hub for safety review and advisory services.

    INSAC’s overall objective is to support States capacity building efforts based on the Agency safety standards. through:

  1. Facilitating the application of safety standards through the validation of technical bases;

  2. Providing support to States in education, training, and methods and tools for the technical evaluation of safety cases;

  3. Facilitating comprehensive IAEA advisory and review services.

  4. Providing networking systems ensuring effective knowledge and information sharing, coordination and collaboration; and

  5. Supporting States in implementing a sustainable nuclear power programme based on a strong foundation of safety, security and international legal instruments.





    The INSAC capacity building programme uses an integrated and phased-approach based on the individual State’s needs, to include: planning, implementing, measuring, and analyzing feedback (Fig.1). Through the above objectives, INSAC can assist embarking States early in the NPP selection process with understanding and determining the impacts of various technologies along with the regulations that impact each design. Also, these objectives are flexible enough to facilitate INSAC assisting States in any phase of the NPP process.

    Within the IAEA, INSAC services and activities are part of the IAEA primary capacity building systems, which include: the Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF), Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network (GNSSN), Global Safety Assessment Network (G-SAN) and the International Seismic Centre (ISSC). In addition, INSAC coordinates and collaborates with State education and training programmes, technical and scientific support organizations (TSOs) and the experts’ community to efficiently and effectively strengthen States’ capacity building efforts.

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Gap analysis

Advisory mission

Assessment of need

Review/Evaluation of effectiveness of the programme

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Design of programme and recommendations based on IAEA Safety Standards

Development and Implementation

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FIG. 1 A Generic Model for Capacity Building


The mandate of the INSAC is to support Member States in the development of safety infrastructure through the development and application of advanced nuclear safety assessment capacity, training, tools and services. INSAC provides a platform for promoting harmonization, sustainability and knowledge management of nuclear safety assessment. Moreover, it will help in maintaining effectiveness and continuous improvement of Member States national safety infrastructure.

There are four main activities/programmes :

I. Applications of Safety Standards and their technical bases.

The safety standards provide very condensed information on nuclear safety issues. They are developed on a consensual basis from best practices and state of the art knowledge among number of experienced Member States. As such, the implementation by Member States who does not having past experience and adequate safety capacity might need support. Therefore, the IAEA needs to prepare documents containing materials (and training) that provide the background information on individual statements in the considered standards, applicability, technical information at the basis of the statement, interpretation, relation to other IAEA standards and documents, and references.

INSAC provides an enhanced platform for interpretation and application of IAEA safety assessment requirements to meet regulatory, technical support organisations and operational needs of Member States. This activity will include development of tutorials and conduct of courses that will provide for the new entrants countries in-depth understanding of the technical basis of IAEA safety requirements and guides. This is outmost important activity as many Member States are planning or are in process of implementing IAEA standards into their safety regulations. A web-based platform will be provided to MSs to facilitate exchange of documents and data in support of these activities and to submit their comments and suggestions on safety standard development.

II. Review and advisory services.

Safety assessment is key element of fundamental safety principles (SF-1, Principle 3) and covers whole life cycle of nuclear facilities. Safety assessments are performed at design stage, for site selection, during licensing and commissioning, during operations and decommissioning. Safety assessments have to address radiation risks in the present and in the long term (GSR-4). As such, safety assessments are very complex and multi-disciplinary activities requiring substantial investment in human resources, methods and time. Therefore, IAEA has prepared and is offering to its Member States services that provide support, review and advice in the field of safety assessment based on the IAEA safety standards.

This review and advisory services are especially important for the needs of new entrants, providing for the initial review and development understanding of comprehensiveness and completeness of safety cases presented by vendors and operators. These services help the countries to establish their own independent safety assessment capacity and infrastructure and assure harmonized approach to safety case reviews among Member States. These services do not reduce the safety responsibility of the new entrant countries nor any country or organization requesting such services. INSAC will assure that this activity and other review and assessment services NSNI provides will be integrated and coordinated for continuity of safety assessment over the life cycle of nuclear facilities.

Examples of key review and advisory services:

II.1 Generic Reactor Safety Review

INSAC facilitates to IAEA Member States a Generic Reactor Safety Review (GRSR) service which objective is evaluation of completeness and comprehensiveness of the design safety case. GRSR is conducted by international team of senior experts against selected and applicable IAEA Safety Standards. In principle, GRSR is based on IAEA Fundamental Safety Principles (SF-1) and Safety Requirements for Safety Assessment for Facilities and Activities (GSR-4). These Safety Requirements are high level standards addressing broadly the safety issues for nuclear installations and activities. The GS-R-4 requirements are generic and technology independent, therefore they are applicable at different stages of design evolution as well as to operating plants. The depth of the review and selection of requirements depends also on the design maturity, and available documentation. The IAEA has performed reviews of safety cases of mature designs, already under construction, through safety case of fairly complete designs to conceptual designs.

The aims of the review are to:

  • determine whether the design follows the IAEA Fundamental Safety Principles;

  • determine whether the safety requirements defined in GS-R-4 are being addressed in the design safety case and identify any that have been omitted;

  • for those requirements that are addressed, form a view on whether they are being addressed in a way that is consistent with the spirit of the IAEA requirements; and

  • for the safety requirements that are not being addressed or are partially addressed, form a view on their relative significance and highlight their importance to safety.

The GRSR service based on Safety Standards at the fundamental and requirements level, does not cover or substitute licensing activity, nor it constitute any kind of design certification. This service provides only for an early (before licensing) harmonized appraisal of safety cases made by vendors as a basis for an individual evaluation or the licensing process, which remains a sovereign activity of the Member States. Consequently, such safety evaluations, conducted against selected sets of Safety Standards, contribute to more effective management of subsequent activities within a global framework consistent with a harmonized approach to safety worldwide.

GRSR is an advisory service that provides the Member States entering nuclear power field an opportunity to develop focus on technical issues important to safety and to initiate planning and development of adequate safety assessment capacity including human resources development. This service includes training, if requested, in performance of technical and regulatory reviews of safety cases based on IAEA experience in conduct of GRSR reviews.

It is important to note that GRSR service is not singularly designed in support of regulatory authorities or TSOs, this service is also valuable to vendors and institutions developing new reactor concepts as it can provide advice on development of safety case early in the design to assure harmonized approach based on IAEA standards and international practices. The GRSR approach validity and benefits were demonstrated as it was applied to mature designs under construction, designs still in engineering phases as well as to conceptual designs.

II.2 Site Evaluation

Significant contributor to the risk associated with a nuclear facility could be the site of the facility. Therefore, in depth assessment of site characteristics relating to the safety of the facility shall be carried out. Such site evaluation determine whether a selected site is suitable for a facility and assesses the site from operational perspective. The site assessment is to be reviewed periodically over the lifetime of the facility. The assessment includes both the external hazards which may challenge the safety of the plant, and the characteristics of the site which influence the radiological impact of the installation on the environment. The site assessment is an important factor and provides input to probabilistic safety assessment of the facility.

The scope of this service includes all site-related issues; both natural and human induced hazards are considered, e.g. geology, tectonics, geophysical, seismology, seismic hazard assessment, meteorology, flooding, geotechnical engineering, hydrogeology, oceanography, volcanology dispersion, population distribution, etc.

This service is provided by the IAEA International Seismic Safety Centre (ISSC) LINK TO ISSC and supports Member States in Selection of new sites as well evaluation of existing sites.

II.3 Integrated Safety Review

On request of member States NSNI would provide reviews of safety analysis reports or other documentation of the safety cases. The purpose of these safety reviews is to assist Member States in implementing the IAEA design requirements, safety guides and standards of international practice to ensure a consistent and uniform evaluation of plant safety.

The reviews focus on items such as the general adherence of the design to governing safety guides and criteria; implementation of the design criteria, component classification, periodic safety reviews, analysis methodologies, construction practices, quality assurance and control procedures. Innovative and evolutionary reactors are included in this review, as well as operating nuclear power plants.

The following topics are included:

  • Reactor core fuel behaviour and reload analysis

  • Defence in-depth concept

  • Probabilistic safety assessment

  • Design basis accidents analysis

  • Beyond design basis analysis

  • Integrated risk informed decision making approaches

  • Periodic safety review

This service addresses whole spectrum of safety analyses performed in support of design, licensing and operations. Deterministic and probabilistic methods are covered.

The review of deterministic safety analyses for design basis and beyond design basis accidents focuses on issues such as:

  • Analysis methodology

  • Analysis scope

  • Validation of methods

  • Uncertainties

  • Application

Review of the probabilistic analyses ids provided through well known services such as IPSART.

The scope of probabilistic safety analysis includes:

  • Organization of management

  • Methods and data

  • External hazards

  • Level 1 and 2 analysis

  • Interpolation of results

  • Quality assurance and documentation

  • PSA applications.

In addition to the classic IPSART review the INSAC can provide a compliance review of a PSA study to current PSA standards of IAEA and ANS/ASME.

Complementing the deterministic safety analyses review the RAMP service provides advice and assistance at the utility/NPP level for effective plant specific Accident Management Programme (AMP) preparation, development and implementation.

Three options are available to Member States:

  • Seminar on Accident Management, to include: plant behaviour during accidents; severe accident phenomenology; principles of accident management; approaches and their features; development phases and tasks

  • Review of Safety Analysis for Accident Management, to include: selection of accident sequences; selection of analytical tools; analysis of accidents without operator actions; analysis of preventive and mitigative accident management measures; quality assurance in accident analysis

  • Review of Accident Management Programme, to include: selection and definition of AMP; safety analysis for AMP; assessment of plant vulnerabilities; development of strategies; evaluation of equipment performance; development of procedures and guidelines; verification and validation of procedures and guidelines; integration between AMP and emergency plans; staffing and qualification; training needs; AMP revisions.

These safety reviews and advisory services are closely coordinated with in-depth reviews of operational safety performance at a nuclear power plant (OSART, PROSPER). They review the factors affecting the management of safety and the performance of personnel. As a result, the OSART programme has provided advice and assistance to Member States to enhance the operational safety of nuclear power plants. In addition, the OSART programme provides an opportunity to disseminate information on “Good Practices” which are recognised during OSART missions.

Safety can not be achieved and maintained without the capability of measuring and assessing safety. Therefore, safety assessment competency is one of the most critical components of safety culture. IAEA provides to the member States safety culture review service (SCART) that follows the IAEA safety standards and also responds to the need to consider more specific or detailed requirements, in accordance with national cultures, and national or international good practices. Specific aspects particularly in the area of safety culture need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis in an atmosphere of constructive impartiality. The overall aim is to provide advice and assistance to Member States to enhance the safety culture of the nuclear facility. SCART missions are centred on human performance--including the performance of the nuclear facility management and staff--rather than the adequacy of the design of a nuclear facility. Factors affecting nuclear facility management and the performance of personnel, such as organizational structure, management goals, and personnel qualification are reviewed. SCART missions are not an audit; rather they are a joint search by SCART team members and designated nuclear facility personnel (counterparts) to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement of safety culture.

II.4 Safety Assessment Capacity and Competency Review

Any country planning to operate or operating nuclear facilities needs to develop sufficient safety assessment capacity. This capacity is needed to assure effective regulations and decision making and for safe operations. Because complex character of the safety assessment and diversity of skill requirements IAEA offers through INSAC advisory service on safety assessment capacity building and maintenance. This service includes the following elements

  • Review of existing capacities and educational and training infrastructure. This service will build on, and expand the IAEA guidelines for systematic analysis of regulatory competence needs.

  • Support in development of capacity requirements.

  • Support in development of capacity building strategies considering national and regional infrastructures.

  • Support and guidance in development of sustainable education and training programmes for safety assessment capacity and knowledge management.

This service is based on knowledge requirements for safety assessment competency (see Section III) and best practices among the Member States.


The third element of the INSAC programme focuses on safety assessment capacity building: Safety Assessment Education and Training (SAET). Through this programme NSNI provides training services for Member States considering launching new nuclear energy programmes, or for Member States revising or enhancing their education and training programmes. An introduction to nuclear safety is available through the IAEA Basic Professional Training Course (BPTC) while SEAT provides in depth understanding of the technical aspects required to perform safety assessment. The capacity building strategy consists of a number of steps (Fig 3). First, formulation of knowledge requirements based on IAEA safety standards, second, the development of training programmes and training networks. Third, assurance of sustainability of required knowledge and skills through train the trainer programmes, review and advisory services, support to strategic planning for national and regional training programmes, facilitation of collaboration on safety assessment tools, international/regional exercises, maintenance collaboration networks and facilitation of collaborative programmes and support through information and knowledge management tools. In implementation of SAET programme G-SAN/INSAC will closely work with TSOs, academia and other knowledge development organizations.

The IAEA Safety Standards at the level of requirements not only identify requirements for safe design, operations or assessment, but as such, define the knowledge needed to assure safety. Therefore, G-SAN/INSAC will, using the Safety Standards, develop rigorous knowledge and skills requirements, in form of curricula, which will provide the basis for educational needs assessment at Member States organizations concerned with nuclear safety, and will allow to develop focused and comprehensive training programmes. These curricula will be the basis for development of any IAEA safety related training activities. The curricula shall be reviewed bi-annually by a panel of experts representing regulators, the industry and the academia to assure the state-of-the-art knowledge is identified and that adequate learning requirements are defined.

Modern training tools will be applied, exercises conducted and information organized and maintained that is needed as reference for training as well as for safety decisionmaking. The modern training tools will include the use of analytical simulators and e-learning methods that reduce the burden on organizations seeking training programmes.

The safety assessment knowledge is divided into two groups: the essential knowledge and the practical applications. The essential knowledge addresses the fundamental aspects of safety assessment, providing the basis for specialized training in the area of deterministic and probabilistic safety assessment. There are three modules at this level. The first module provides for necessary basic knowledge needed for development of safety analysis capabilities. It addresses the whole spectrum of issues related to nuclear safety and safety assessment. The second module introduces more detailed requirements of deterministic safety analysis, addressing criteria for judging safety, uncertainty and sensitivity analyses, use of computer codes and use of data from operating experience. It also provides the fundamentals of safety analysis, addressing issues such as input data preparation, quality assurance, acceptance criteria, safety analysis methods and codes. The third module provides for basic concepts of probabilistic safety analyses including principles of system modelling.

The knowledge specified at the “essential“ level should be a requirement for all personnel and decision makers dealing with reactor safety, i.e. analysts, plant designers, regulators and operators.

The practical applications level of the knowledge requirements, identifies two elements, which deal with deterministic analysis and with probabilistic safety assessment respectively. These modules are devoted to use of codes, preparation of models and performance of analyses. IAEA cooperates closely with countries developing and maintaining necessary analytical tools. This cooperation is however not very effective as there are significant restrictions on use and distribution of the methods by some of those countries. This situation creates a significant asymmetry and potential safety problem worldwide. This situation may worsen as more countries with small technical infrastructure but significant need for electricity will implement nuclear power programmes. These countries will have to rely on the safety assessments provided by the vendors and hope for support from regulatory authorities of supplier countries. However there is no “turn key” safety. The governments have to assure that adequate indigenous safety capacity exists in those countries supporting their nuclear programmes over the lifetime of the facilities so that these countries can independently assess and verify safety of the nuclear installations.. This will require appropriate educational and human resources policies at the regulatory authorities and the operators. Also it will require that all the countries embarking on nuclear power or operating nuclear power plants have the same access to safety assessment tools and methods. Therefore, the Agency needs to undertake effective steps to avoid the asymmetry and assure harmonized approach to safety worldwide. The INSAC activities need to provide support to the Member States in the education and training area but also assure the availability of analytical methods. This issue will be discussed in the next section.

To assure reliable capacity building programme INSAC will complete development of the SAET knowledge requirements apply those to develop standard periodical courses on the “essential knowledge”. These two weeks courses will be conducted in spring and fall. Member States will have the opportunity to include these courses in their long term safety capacity development plans. Additionally these courses may be conducted per demand as regional features in cooperation with existing safety networks such as the Asian Nuclear Safety Network or the Ibero-American Nuclear Safety Network. The essential level programme will utilize to large degree existing IAEA training materials.

II.B – Design Basis Analysis

  • Code Verification and Validation

  • Separate Effects Tests Modelling

  • Integral Effects Tests Modelling

  • Sensitivity Analysis

  • Nuclear Power Plant Modelling

  • Accident Analysis, Uncertainty Evaluation and Interpretation of Results

Figure 2. SAET knowledge structure

The practical knowledge part of the SAET programme will be initially conducted per request in cooperation with organizations, such as selected TSOs, that provide safety analysis methods and codes. These training courses will cover deterministic methods as well as probabilistic safety analyses. The deterministic analyses training will include thermal hydraulic system analysis for design basis and beyond design basis accidents, containment, neutronic and fuel performance analyses as well as source term and dispersion analyses.

Additionally to these training courses SEAT will arrange for international analytical exercises and methods validation activities against reference test cases as one of the most efficient training approaches. Those exercises will provide for knowledge transfer through participation of experienced organizations and vendors of tools and methods. The exercises will be also discussed in the next section. Further collaboration will be needed between Member States and TSO’s organisations in order to develop in depth technical capability to carry out plant safety analyses by Member states as appropriate.



Self study

Assessment of the trainees

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  1. General Training

  2. Specific and Specialised training


  1. At Technical Support Organisations /Operators

  2. At Regulatory Bodies

Follow up Seminars

Mentoring on-the-job

Train the Trainers
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IV. Global safety assessment collaboration and networking.
Global safety regime requires highest possible and harmonized level of safety assessment competency among the Member States. This competency includes necessary knowledge and skills corresponding to operated and regulated facilities. The safety assessments however, are multi-disciplinary requiring significant commitment and investment in human and financial resources and access to methods, data and past experience. Not all Member States have equal access to all information and experience sources; therefore it must be assured that the knowledge, data, methods and experience must be shared globally. The global sharing and utilization of the information will contribute to the overall excellence of nuclear safety assessment capacity worldwide. It is in the interest of the developed countries to enhance the access to the necessary information and tools for countries entering nuclear field, as consequences of nuclear accidents do not recognize national borders. These global sharing and collaboration can be achieved through international organizations such as IAEA and through focused activities such as INSAC. INSAC will foster collaboration, provide network platforms and will promote harmonization of nuclear safety assessment concepts and approaches worldwide. INSAC through use of e-platform such as CASAT and establishing programmes as discussed above will be maintaining active collaboration network linking existing networks and experts worldwide. In collaboration with selected providers, TSOs and others, INSAC will establish an international collaboration on analytical methods.

Examples of recent achievements :

- An advisory service for competency building in safety assessment; and

- A methodology for the application of Integrated Risk Informed Decision Making Process are examples of recent achievement.

    The development, in cooperation with G-SAN, of an advisory service for competency building in safety assessment and a methodology for the application of Integrated Risk Informed Decision Making Process are examples of recent achievement.



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