Operational Safety

3.1. INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES

This chapter addresses the issues of operational safety for existing nuclear power plants. It concerns safety throughout all aspects of power plant operation and a number of topics are covered. There are diverse issues, some of which have already been introduced in the previous chapter. The management of radioactive waste is a particular concern and must be resolved, although there is positive progress on this issue in some countries. It is now recognised that human factor considerations can play an important role in maintaining plant safety. Increasing attention is being paid to improved operator training and other means of reducing the risk of human error. Another goal is to achieve closer collaboration between regulators and utilities. The regulation of an increasing number of privatised utilities is a present day issue. Another topic included is how the experience of many reactor years of operation can be utilised to improve future safety.

Operational safety is of paramount importance for the continuation of nuclear power, both nationally and internationally. The Chernobyl accident demonstrated all too clearly that the consequences of a major accident cannot be confined within national boundaries. Further, were such an accident to occur in the future, the nuclear industry would be unlikely to survive in most countries. Regarding continuous improvement, additional safety systems have been back-fitted to some of the older operating reactors. Extended accident management procedures have also been developed. Both of these are intended to extend the plant safety envelope.

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