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IAEA Establishes International Seismic Safety Centre


The IAEA today officially inaugurated an international centre to coordinate efforts for protecting nuclear installations against the effects of earthquakes. The International Seismic Safety Centre (ISSC), which has been established within the IAEA´s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, will serve as a focal point on seismic safety for nuclear installations worldwide. ISSC will assist countries on the assessment of seismic hazards of nuclear facilities to mitigate the consequences of strong earthquakes. "With safety as our first priority, it is vital that we pool all expert knowledge available worldwide to assist nuclear operators and regulators to be well prepared for coping with major seismic events," said Antonio Godoy, Acting Head of the IAEA´s Engineering Safety Section and leader of the ISSC. "The creation of the ISSC represents the culmination of three decades of the IAEA´s active and recognized involvement in this matter through the development of an updated set of safety standards and the assistance to Member States for their application." To further seismic safety at nuclear installations worldwide, the ISSC will:

  • Promote knowledge sharing among the international community in order to avoid or mitigate the consequences of extreme seismic events on nuclear installations;
  • Support countries through advisory services and training courses; and
  • Enhance seismic safety by utilizing experience gained from previous seismic events in member states.

The centre is supported by a scientific committee of high-level experts from academic, industrial and nuclear safety authorities that will advise the ISSC on implementation of its programme. Experts have been nominated from seven specialized areas, including geology and tectonics, seismology, seismic hazard, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, equipment, and seismic risk. Japan and the United States have both contributed initial funds for creation of the centre, which will be based at IAEA headquarters in Vienna. In addition to the roster of scientific experts made available to the centre from all regions of the world, the ISSC will be comprised of seven IAEA staff members. A July 2007 earthquake in Japan that damaged the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world´s largest plant, underlined the need for international collaboration to protect nuclear installations from seismic effects. The earthquake exceeded the design parameters for the seven unit plant and brought renewed international focus upon the structural ruggedness of nuclear facilities. Following the event, the IAEA sent a team of experts on to conduct a fact finding mission. In addition, a follow-up mission was conducted in 2008. Within the last 20 years the IAEA has also dispatched expert teams on over 100 missions to investigate and review nuclear installations for their ability to withstand strong earthquakes.

Last update: 16 Feb 2018

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