Safety Assessment of Operating Nuclear Power Plants


Experts from 15 Member States participated in the Technical Meeting on Safety Assessment of Operating Nuclear Power Plants

6 December 2012 - Rigorous assessments have been conducted worldwide to evaluate the technical and organizational status of operating nuclear power plants with respect to nuclear safety, following the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Identifying potential improvements and weaknesses in the design robustness and institutional effectiveness in the light of the lessons learned from the accident were main objectives.

At a technical meeting on ‘Safety Assessment of Operating Nuclear Power Plants’, 30 experts from operating and regulatory organizations in 15 IAEA Member States discussed international experiences, challenges and their solutions that will help nuclear power plants to implement the assessments’ recommendations.

The following topics were specifically addressed:

  • The results of EU and non-EU safety assessments ('stress tests');
  • The IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety;
  • IAEA's ‘Methodology for Assessment of Safety Vulnerabilities of Nuclear Power Plants Against Site Specific Extreme Natural Hazards’;
  • Actions derived from safety assessments and implementation strategies;
  • Verifying the effectiveness of completed actions and their incorporation design/licensing basis, as applicable.

“It’s the Member State’s responsibility how to follow up on the outcome of those assessments, and decisions on individual installations remain a responsibility of the operating organizations”, said Ki Sig Kang from the IAEA Nuclear Power Engineering Section, adding: “It will be a long term process with challenges to the operating organizations to implement these additional measures; however, these challenges are understood and being managed by the operators and regulators in the Member States.”

All of the plants have assessed the needs for potential safety improvements as a consequence of the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident, and many have already implemented substantial amount of actions. In many plants, special stationary or mobile equipment, to ensure the performance of prevention and mitigation functions, have been procured or installed. These additional components, such as electrical power supply and heat removal equipment, ensure diversity and redundancy. Furthermore, nuclear power plants have extensively reviewed and verified their design bases for the applicable external events learned from the Fukushima accident, such as flooding and earthquake.

Some operating organizations had proactively taken such measures well before the Fukushima accident. For example, the Borssele Nuclear Power Plant in the Netherlands already installed safety improvements in the 80s and 90s as a result of periodic safety reviews, and continuously updates the accident response processes, including the role of operators and on-site and off-site emergency responders before Fukushima accident.

As an outcome of the meeting, the IAEA is requested to develop guidelines on the specific areas including management of severe accident mitigation, and to hold similar meetings with operating organizations periodically.

The technical meeting on ‘Safety Assessment of Operating Nuclear Power Plants’ was organized jointly by the IAEA and the Institute of Energy and Transport of the EC’s Joint Research Center. It was held on 3–5 December 2012 in Petten, in the Netherlands.

Please contact NENP Engineering Section - Contact Point if you have any questions.