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Interview with Michael R. Johnson - Situation Report after the first week of IRRS-Mission


Michael R. Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC), as the team leader of the IRRS-Mission summarises first week experiences.

First of all I would like to thank you for finding the opportunity and time to be interviewed. You mentioned in your introductory speech that the Mission will have a very intensive two-week period. What does it mean exactly, what has been done until now?

The mission is a very intense effort. Most of the team of experts from 11 countries and the IAEA arrived on Saturday after weeks of preparation. We met on Sunday to review our purpose and planned activities and to discuss our preliminary impressions. Following the meeting with senior leaders from the various regulatory and members of the involved ministries, we began a series of interviews, site visits and follow up inquiries. We have had many productive interactions and are off to a good start.

What is left for the next week based on the Agenda of the Mission?

Looking forward, we will continue to exchange information with our Hungarian regulatory counterparts to refine our insights and address remaining questions. We will formulate our preliminary observations and findings into an early draft report. We will meet on Monday of next week to discuss our results in each area.  On Wednesday we will deliver a draft preliminary report for written comment and will meet with our counterparts to review them. By Friday morning, we will have made any appropriate changes to the report and will conduct an Exit Meeting.  While the formal mission will end then, our work won't end until IAEA has received the final comments and we have produced a final report.

You said that the regulatory system was going to be reviewed and not inspected. Why this difference is always emphasized? What is the approach, the methodology and general aim of the Mission?

I think the distinction is important. An inspection is conducted against requirements with an outcome being the identification of non-compliances that must be addressed.  While the IRRS mission looks for compliance with the IAEA standards, it is conducted by peers for the purpose of improving the host country's regulatory framework. It offers the opportunity for a two-way exchange of information and the identification of good practices that will benefit fellow safety regulators around the world.

Even if the IRRS-Mission is standardized, there might be some differences country by country. Is there anything specific to our country?

Although each country strives to ensure protection of the public health and safety and protection of the environment consistent with the IAEA Standards each country, including Hungary, differs based on its unique governmental structure, system of laws, etc. The standards allow for differences in approach.

The interview was made by Gábor Körmendi, communication officer of the HAEA.