Nuclear Power Safety:

International Measures in Response to Chernobyl Accident

NSIAD-88-131BR: Published: Apr 8, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) potential for an expanded nuclear safety role, specifically its: (1) undertaking greater responsibility for inspecting nuclear power plant reactors; and (2) setting up an international mechanism for rapid response to mitigate the consequences of a nuclear accident.

GAO found that: (1) following the Chernobyl accident, IAEA enacted two international agreements to enhance cooperation in providing information and emergency assistance following a nuclear accident; (2) some countries believe that the agreements do not sufficiently obligate countries to report nuclear accidents promptly; (3) because IAEA can only undertake activities that its member states approve, it is limited to giving technical advice on radiological safety and facilitating member cooperation; (4) member states have provided additional funding for IAEA to increase the number of its safety reviews in countries with nuclear power programs; and (5) many members believe that a mandatory standards and verification regime would infringe on national sovereignty and would be expensive, impractical, and of questionable benefit.

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