NuPOC Holds Seventh Meeting to Review Industry Principles of Conduct

December 3, 2015
Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy

Civilian nuclear power plant and reactor vendors and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have concluded a seventh meeting to review the implementation of the Nuclear Power Plant and Reactor Exporters' Principles of Conduct (POC). The POC constitute an industry code of conduct articulating and consolidating best practices in the export of nuclear power plants. The meeting was convened in London, in May, by the NuPOC secretariat with the gracious support of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO). It was chaired by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Secretariat briefed vendors on challenges and trends in the nuclear industry impacting NuPoC's viability and on its communications with vendors leading up to the meeting. Several of the participating companies face economic and reorganizational challenges, causing uncertainty about their ability to continue to participate in NuPOC. Candu did not attend the meeting after declaring that it could no longer support its participation in NuPoC for 2015. AREVA could not attend for practical reasons. Rusatom Overseas, in the midst of reorganizations, was also not able to attend. The meeting participants acknowledged the important contribution these vendors have made to the POC and NuPoC. An effort will be undertaken to reinvigorate their participation ahead of the next meeting, while also engaging other relevant nuclear power plant vendors and research reactor vendors. In light of these developments, attending vendors extensively discussed the future of NuPOC, together with Carnegie and experts. While acknowledging the significant challenges currently facing the industry and individual vendor companies, and the effect this has on NuPOC, participants underlined the importance of the POC and its benefit to the public and the nuclear export industry. Vendors agreed to explore a meaningful way forward for NuPoC and to take a final decision at the next meeting.

Participants welcomed the attendance of the Argentine research-reactor company, INVAP, as a new adherent to the POC and appreciated its representative's detailed briefing on how INVAP is implementing the POC. INVAP also presented an in-depth case study on the challenges encountered and lessons learned in applying the POC in its work with a customer state. Participants discussed the role of research reactors in helping build knowledge and expertise essential in countries interested in establishing a nuclear civilian energy program. The participating vendors also updated each other on their implementation activities and shared best practices in the areas of employee education, management engagement, and engaging their supply chains and other nuclear partners on the POC.
Prominent experts joined vendors to discuss key developments in nuclear safety and security, and international efforts in preparing nuclear entrant countries in establishing the necessary infrastructure and safety culture, and lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident. Guests included:

  • Ken Ellis, CEO of the World Association of Nuclear Operators;
  • Roger Howsley, executive director of the World Institute for Nuclear Security;
  • André-Claude Lacoste, expert for NuPoC, former chairman of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, and president of the sixth review meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS); and
  • Jukka Laaksonen, vice chairman of INSAG, former director general of STUK.

Together with Ken Ellis, Jukka Laaksonen, and André-Claude Lacoste, vendors extensively discussed developments in nuclear safety and current efforts undertaken by the IAEA, WANO, and other nuclear actors, such as the CNS and regulators, to enhance nuclear safety throughout the different stages of developing a nuclear power program. Specific attention was given to challenges in timely engaging countries interested in nuclear energy and nuclear entrant countries in order to ensure a strong nuclear safety culture and infrastructure before the start of a nuclear power plant. Participants reflected on the individual, as well as the shared, responsibility of the different nuclear actors involved in addressing these challenges.

Participants underlined the need for better communication between the involved nuclear organizations and actors on the engagement of countries developing a nuclear program, and reflected on the role of vendors in helping ensure that international safety standards are met in these new nuclear countries. Vendors further reflected on the importance of a collective effort by the industry, which could be spearheaded by the IAEA, to expand such outreach in order to ensure that international safety standards are met in these new nuclear countries. Vendors further reiterated that, notwithstanding that the prime responsibility for safe operation rests with operators and in striving for continuous strengthening of nuclear safety, they are eager to continue to learn from operating experience. Together with Roger Howsley, vendors discussed recent developments in nuclear security, in particular in cyber security. In these discussions Roger Howsley underlined the importance of continued communication within organizations themselves as well as between the various nuclear organizations involved in ensuring nuclear security and the collective responsibility in addressing these security questions. Experts underlined the POC's importance in reinforcing high safety and security standards in the dissemination and development of nuclear power and in helping ensure a strong nuclear safety and security infrastructure and culture in new nuclear countries.

Participants concluded the meeting affirming that efforts will be made to reinvigorate NuPoC together with all the adopting vendors, and with the support of Carnegie and experts. Vendors once more underlined the value of the POC and will finalize a meaningful way forward for NuPoC at the next meeting in January 2016.

More information about the Nuclear Power Plant and Reactor Exporters' Principles of Conduct is available at www.nuclearprinciples.org.