Maaike Prins, new Director of Assessment and Advice at the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection
On 1 October 2023, Maaike Prins became the new Director of the Assessment & Advice Department (DBA). Before taking on this new role, she worked as Head of the Medical Technology Department at the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ). Ms Prins: “The role regulators play when it comes to safety in the Netherlands cannot be underestimated.”
DBA consists of six teams with varying areas of expertise. One team within the Directorate, for example, focuses on specialist assessments and inspections at nuclear facilities. However, information provision, crisis control, legal affairs and execution policy, are also part of the range of duties of the various DBA teams. This also includes international cooperation with comparable foreign authorities, such as the Belgian regulator Federal Agency for Nuclear Control. Ms Prins herself also says that “the diversity in subjects is interesting to observe”. “We are truly an all-round agency.”
Connection and collaboration
One important responsibility that the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) has - together with its crisis partners - is to ensure that the Netherlands is as prepared as it can be for any emergencies involving nuclear safety and radiation protection. The Crisis Expert Team for radiation and nuclear (CETsn) crisis structure has been set up for this purpose. Ms Prins: “The CETsn collects data and assesses the situation after analysis. Based on the analysis they draw up a recommendation which includes measures to limit the consequences for public health and the living environment.
Within the CETsn, the ANVS and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment work with other knowledge partners, in order to bring together the required technical, radiological and healthcare expertise in one recommendation to governors, both at national and regional level. We are currently reviewing the CETsn, in order to be as well-prepared as possible for emergencies and accidents. I am looking forward to the major national drill at the end of 2024, so we can test how this structure works in practice."
Within the Directorate we are working on various programmes, for example with a view to the preparation of new nuclear initiatives. In this we focus on the development of knowledge, but also the sharing of collected knowledge. “We put a lot of time into training our people. As a regulator, we need to keep a close watch on new developments. We support other government organisations too; this is one of our statutory duties. We would like to ensure that knowledge in the sector is retained,” explains Prins.
Being prepared for new developments
Nuclear energy is currently very much in the spotlight, partially due to climate targets and the energy transition. Ms Prins: “We have a clear role, which is that of protector of safety when it comes to nuclear and radiation. Our duties in this include licensing processes and monitoring. These are complex and extensive safety assessments. We also have to do with new technologies and uncertain timelines. We have started a programme to be as well prepared as possible for this internally. Citizens and licence applicants can trust that we are ready for anything.”
Safety and transparency
Safety and protection are the common thread in her career. Ms Prins: “Everyone wants to live safely, and should be able to trust that the government is doing everything in its power to guarantee this. There is a lot of impact to be made in this area, and I plan to contribute to this. I worked on safety in healthcare at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. When I made the switch to the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate later on, I learned more and more about this topic. I have held various management positions, including Head of the Division that oversaw medical technology.
We would like to share our knowledge in a good way. DBA stands for expertise in many specialist areas, including nuclear and emergencies. I would like to connect all themes in the right way, for example as part of our duty to inform the public. We communicate what goes on in a clear and transparent manner. I also think it is important that the connection to other regulators and inspectorates, knowledge institutes, stakeholders and national and international parties, is strong. I would like to further strengthen these connections in the future.”
Meet our directors
This is the third and final part in the series introducing our directors. We have previously introduced our directors of our Competent Authority, Bernd Keller, and Operational Management and Information Provision Department (DBI), Ilya Wit-Hoornweg, to you.