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IAEA team finds S. Korea's nuclear safety regulations adequate

An international team of nuclear safety experts said on Friday that South Korea has strong regulations on operating atomic energy facilities safely and preventing accidents, concluding their two-week mission here.

The special review, called the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) came at the request of the South Korean government.

“This was the first IRRS mission that included a review of the regulatory implications from Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident," said Denis Flory, the IAEA's deputy director general and also head of the department of nuclear safety and security.

The review is not an IAEA inspection nor an audit and is designed only to provide an objective view or recommendation on a country's nuclear safety regulations.

The team, consisting of 16 nuclear safety experts from 14 countries, said South Korea already had in place a "technically capable and effective nuclear safety regulatory program."

It also noted Seoul's response to the Fukushima accident, caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, had been prompt and effective.

"Communications with the public, development of actions for improvement and coordination with international stakeholders were of high quality," it said in a released statement.

The statement said William Borchardt, the team's leader who is also the executive director of operations at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, especially commended the Korean authorities for their openness and commitment to sharing their experience with the world's nuclear safety community.

"IRRS missions such as the one that was just concluded here in the Republic of Korea are crucial to the enhancement of nuclear safety worldwide," Borchardt was quoted as saying, referring to South Korea by its official name.

One of the key recommendations the team had for South Korea was to set up regulations on how to manage spent fuel and decommission nuclear plants.

"Korea strongly supports the global nuclear safety regime and provides training at national and international levels," it said. (Yonhap News)

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