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IAEA Workshop Encourages Use of Physics-based Models for Seismic Hazard Assessment ahead of Nuclear Installation Safety Analysis

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Participants at a 14-16 May 2018 workshop on physics-based models for seismic hazard assessment ahead of nuclear installation safety analysis. (Photo: IAEA/S. Suzuki)

Participants at an IAEA workshop held 14-16 May in France discussed how to best use physics-based modelling to assess seismic hazard to improve the survey and evaluation of potential sites for nuclear facilities, thereby strengthening the safety of these installations.

State-of-the-art physics-based fault rupture models can be used to assess seismic ground motion at a specific location such as a nuclear power plant site. About 150 experts from 30 Member States taking part in the workshop in Cadarache, France, discussed such modelling schemes and engineering challenges related to the seismic risk assessment of nuclear installations.

The workshop, co-sponsored by swissnuclear, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority and hosted by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), was the second of its kind. Like its 2015 predecessor, it aimed to disseminate the use of physics-based fault rupture modelling.

The workshop contributed to the development of practical guidance to complement two IAEA publications, the 2010 Specific Safety Guide titled Seismic Hazards in Site Evaluation for Nuclear Installations (SSG-9) and the 2015 Safety Report Series Ground Motion Simulation Based on Fault Rupture Modelling for Seismic Hazard Assessment in Site Evaluation for Nuclear Installations.

“The varying backgrounds of the participants – scientists, engineers and practitioners – and their diverse experiences enabled them to broaden the potential uses of this type of modelling, thereby paving the way for it to make a larger contribution to the evaluation of seismic hazards and seismic safety analysis,” said Yoshimitsu Fukushima, the IAEA Senior Nuclear Safety Officer in charge of the project. “Ultimately, this will lead to better application of the method, which will contribute to strengthening nuclear safety.”

Workshop Chairperson Luis A. Dalguer, Adjunct Professor at Aichi Institute of Technology, Japan, and consultant at 3Q-Lab, Switzerland, said:

“The workshop was characterized by fruitful and stimulating discussions on the issues of ground motion prediction for seismic hazard and risk evaluation. This discussion helped to identify potential aspects that could be considered to update the current IAEA guidance on seismic hazard.”

CEA Principal Seismologist Catherine Berge-Thierry said discussions among the high-level scientists and experts that participated in the workshop highlighted the potential of physics-based approaches in seismic hazard assessments toward seismic risk analysis.

She called for continuous efforts in data acquisition to verify and validate simulated seismic motions and their impact on nuclear installations.

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