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Experts' Meeting On Protection Against Extreme Earthquakes and Tsunamis Concludes

The IAEA's Real Time Tsunami Forecasting System is now in development and could be used to alert nuclear power plant operators when a Tsunami may arrive and its wave height. (Photo: N. Bekiri/IAEA)

At the conclusion of the International Experts' Meeting on Protection Against Extreme Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the Light of the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Chairperson delivered a summary of the deliberations. Following is a condensed version of that summary:

"In March 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami led to the nuclear accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi NPP. This is the first time that a combination of external hazards caused a nuclear accident. There has been increasing international concern about the occurrence of extreme natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, meteorological and hydrological hazards, and their possible impact on the safety of nuclear installations.

As part of the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, approved by the IAEA Board of Governors, unanimously endorsed by the IAEA General Conference in 2011, the IAEA Secretariat held the third International Experts' Meeting (IEM3) on Protection against Extreme Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the Light of the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, from 4 to 7 September 2012, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

The objectives of this International Experts' Meeting (IEM3) was to share lessons learned from recent extreme earthquakes and tsunamis, to exchange information related to site evaluation and nuclear power plant safety against extreme events and to identify issues that should be further investigated.

The four-day IEM3 received a high level of worldwide interest with 120 participants from 35 countries featured 42 expert presentations including one international organization, the Nuclear Energy Agency - Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (NEA-OECD).

The topics discussed were as follows:

  • Assessment of hazards and Tsunami modeling;
  • Combination of extreme events; and
  • Safety assessments models.

Common elements were used in the efforts of numerous countries for the protection of nuclear installations against extreme external natural hazards which included the general-evaluation of external hazards, and the plant responses to such hazards. In general, it was confirmed during the discussions and presentations that there is a need to ensure that siting and design of nuclear plants should include sufficient protection against complex combinations of extreme external events and these should be considered in the plant safety analysis.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, countries carried out extensive analysis of the root causes of the accident from lessons learned and started to introduce additional safety improvements in their national programs.

The overarching lesson to be learned is that an integrated approach is needed to protect nuclear installations against external hazards. Other major lessons learned are related to the design safety of nuclear power plants, site selection criteria, improvements to safety models for complex potential scenarios and further safety improvements in preventive and mitigation measures. Those improvements are divided in short, medium and long term activities.

In addition to the lessons learned, key issues for further safety improvement were identified for extreme seismic and tsunamis events."

The full Chairperson's report and all relevant information about this IEM3 will be made available through the IAEA Website in due time.

Last update: 27 Jul 2017

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