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New CRP: Climate Change Challenges to the Safety of Nuclear Installations (J72007)


The IAEA is launching a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) to focus on how climate change and severe weather could impact the safety of nuclear installations.

“Climate change has an important impact on the increased risk associated with weather-related hazards such as droughts, wildfires, heat waves, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, and storm surges,” said Paolo Contri, Head of the IAEA External Events Safety Section, adding that “the severity and frequency of weather-related hazards due to climate change may pose unanticipated challenges to nuclear installations.”

“In relation to hazard evaluation, design, and operation at nuclear installations, it is important to focus on the most relevant safety issues affected by such hazards and corresponding protective measures at nuclear installations,” he further highlighted.  

In response to this issue, the new CRP that covers a period from 2024 to 2026 will focus on research on calculating hazards and the factors to ensure safety at nuclear facilities in the face of these challenges. The CRP will also investigate the resilience of new and existing nuclear infrastructures to climate-related extreme scenarios.  

"The impact of climate change on relevant weather-related hazards will be analysed as part of the research effort through collection and comparison of national practices and assessment of available simulation tools," Contri said.

In the case of flooding vulnerability at river and coastal sites, this CRP will include a benchmark study to analyse selected cases for hazard assessment and adaptation/resilience to extreme weather conditions. Mitigation measures deployable by plant operating organisations will be carefully analysed to provide guidance to countries on the best provisions for continuous control of the safety margin of their installations through improved monitoring, alert control, reinforced protection, and suitable operator action.

The overall CRP objective is to enhance the capability and expertise of countries in evaluating the potential impact of climate change on weather-related hazard analysis for nuclear installations and developing suitable preparedness for pre and post event actions aimed at controlling the relevant risk.

The specific research objectives are:

  • to identify the methodical differences in the current countries practices for including climate projections in hazard estimates;
  • to perform a benchmarking hazard analysis on the case studies, considering the uncertainty in climate change projections and comparison of the results to understand the differences;
  • to develop high level recommendations on the impact of climate change on the meteorological and hydrological hazards, with the intent of capturing best practices and lessons learned from the benchmark analysis;
  • to harmonize the guidance given on on-site monitoring and warning systems, pre- and post-event actions, and adaptation measures;
  • to train early-career engineers and scientists and establish opportunities for PhD dissertations from embarking countries.

How to join this CRP:

Research organizations interested in joining the CRP must submit their Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by email, no later than 15 August 2023 to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA web portal. The same template can be used for both research contract and technical contract. The IAEA encourages institutes to involve, to the extent possible, female researchers and young researchers in their proposals.

IAEA External Events Safety Section

External events, including natural disasters and events induced by human activities such as fires, can wreak havoc on the environments in which they occur, and when such events take place in an area where nuclear installations exist, the damage can become even more wide-ranging. The IAEA External Events Safety Section support countries to help identify, evaluate, and mitigate these potential threats to nuclear installations. The section and the projects they undertake serve to advance the work being done to further improve nuclear safety.

The IAEA support to countries

The IAEA supports countries in five thematical areas relating to safety in the face of external events: siting, design, safety assessment, component qualification, and capacity building. It provides support to countries specifically in site selection for nuclear installations and in assessment and evaluation of the safety of design of nuclear installations against external hazards.

Other activities include conducting safety review missions on nuclear installations by the Site and External Events Design Review Service (SEED), the development of capacity building in this field, and creating  safety guides and technical documents.

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements, and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

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