Networks for Nuclear Safety:
The Republic of Korea Turns to the Web for Keeping People Informed
Nuclear plants generate two of every five kilowatts of electricity in the Republic of Korea, and plans are to have about two dozen nuclear plants on line over the next ten years. To track plant operations and safety, the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) has invested in a set of Internet-based communication systems that monitor plant performance and radioactive materials.
The systems were on interactive display this week at a special Technical Cooperation exhibit at the IAEA General Conference.
Systems displayed this week included:
- CARE, which stands for Computerized Technical Advisory System for a Radiological Emergency
It is designed to provide technical advice and management guidance for the protection of the public during a radiological emergency. The system tracks key safety parameters at all the country's nuclear power plants. It also enables interconnections by satellite by which information can be shared with the IAEA and other countries under the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident
- RASIS, which stands for Radiation Safety Information System
Its tracking and inventory management features monitor the life cycle of radioactive materials, from production to disposal, that are used in nuclear and other industries. It is designed to serve the interests of both users and regulators of radioactive materials, as well as keep citizens better informed. One aim is to apply it for preventing radioactive sources from escaping regulatory control and to guard against potential incidents of illegal trafficking of material.
- IERNet, which stands for Integrated Environmental Radiation Monitoring Network
This system is designed for early detection of radioactive contamination in the environment that may result from a nuclear accident or radiological emergency. It tracks radiation levels by the hour and features an early warning system to alert authorities of abnormal changes so that countermeasures can be more quickly taken. The network covers 24 monitoring stations, including those located in each of ten large population centers. Data is made available to the public via KINS' Web site.
The computerized safety networks - which display information primarily in the Korean language -- are seen as valuable tools for improving the country's emergency planning and preparedness, and for communicating more effectively with its citizens. But they may serve as models down the line. As Korean MinisterYoung Hwan Kim proposed in his statement to the Conference earlier this week, the country would like to see a radiation safety information network set up worldwide to further strengthen the global safety and security regime.