The OECD/NEA helps its member countries in the maintenance and development of the legal, economic, scientific and technological frameworks needed for the safe and economical use of nuclear energy (OECD/NEA, 1999; OECD/NEA, 2000). It was established as early as 1958 and the current membership extends to 27 member countries. It aims to facilitate a harmonised approach to resolving safety issues. It aims to include the experience of the Central European countries that continue to operate Russian-designed plant and also Russia itself.

The NEA is based on a Technical Committee Structure, led by a Steering Committee. The latter provides guidance on the direction of work that is the executed by the former, often with the assistance of specialist Working Groups and/or Expert Groups. A number of committees have been formed over the years covering nuclear regulatory activities, safety of nuclear installations, radiation protection and public health, radioactive waste management, nuclear development and fuel, and nuclear law.

These Committees and their Working Groups provide access to information, enable common experience to be passed around, promote the convergence of technical issues and generate help to promote areas of common interest. They also encourage co-operation with the IAEA including the member states of the EU, US, Japan and Russia, which is part of the OECD/NEA strategic plan.

The OECD/NEA are facilitating initiatives in innovative reactor study programmes in collaboration with IAEA, as noted above. A whole range of current programmes is listed in IEA/NEA/IAEA (2002). These include wide-ranging activities on small-large scale designs, the range of different systems in GIF, these being considered from all aspects including safety, performance and economics. Along with IAEA, there is collaboration within the Michel Angelo Network (MICANET) of the EC.

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