INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

Nuclear safety is a major topic of interest within the activities of a number of international organisations, see for example Hall (1998). The IAEA has taken a lead role in promoting the role of atomic energy in all aspects. This includes operational safety and the agency is helping to set up regulatory frameworks throughout the world. The IAEA is helping to define common standards and understanding, one example is the setting of agreed event scales, which aim to provide a safety significance marking for a particular event. Another example is ‘safety culture’, recently reported on by the IAEA’s International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group. The intention is to instil an awareness of safety significance in all those responsible for the safety of a nuclear plant.

The IAEA carries out operational safety reviews through operational safety review teams (OSARTs). The OSARTs investigate particular operational safety issues, identify lessons learned and monitor corrective actions.

Another important international body is the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), formed in 1989. The members of this organisation are solely utilities. WANO’s aim is to maximise the safety and reliability of nuclear power plant operation through exchange of information amongst its members. WANO conducts many different progra­mmes. These include exchange of operators between different stations. Operator exchanges have taken place between many Western and Eastern European countries. WANO has set indicators for plant performance (Table 3.1). Examples of such plant performance indicators relevant to safety include unplanned scrams, levels of radiation exposure, accident frequency and so on. WANO has also instigated various peer review programmes.

Prior to WANO, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators (INPO) was set up by US utilities to promote safety culture in the US, working with other US organisations, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the American Nuclear Society (ANS).

There have been a number of international initiatives to transfer Western safety culture to Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. Aid has been provided by the G7 countries via the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EPRD) and also by the European Commission through the Poland and Hungary Aid for the Restructuring of the Economy (PHARE) and the Technical Assistance to Commonwealth and Independent States (TACIS) programmes. Although much of this support has been spent on technical consultancy, a significant proportion has been spent on plant improvements and training of operator personnel.

Other activities either directly or indirectly supporting improved operator safety have resulted from the activities of the NEA of the OECD (NEA/CSNI/R, 2001).

Table 3.1. WANO performance and safety indicators

Unit capability factor — % of maximum energy generation that a plant is capability of supplying to the electrical grid

Unplanned capability loss factor — % of maximum energy that a plant is not capability of supplying to the grid because of unplanned energy losses

Unplanned automatic scrams per 7000 h critical — mean scram (automatic reactor shutdown) rate per year (approximately)

Collective radiation exposure — monitor of effectiveness of total personnel radiation exposure controls

Industrial safety accident rate — number of accidents resulting in lost work, restricted work or fatalities per 200,000 work-hours

Safety system performance — availability of three important standby safety systems at each plant

Fuel reliability — progress in preventing defects in the metal cladding that surrounds fuel

Chemistry performance — progress in controlling chemical parameters to retard deterioration of key plant materials and components during the operational lifetime

Collectively these international programmes contribute to improved operational safety of the world’s power plants. There are many areas of complementary and collaborative activities. The incident reporting system (IRS) for example is managed by both the IAEA and the NEA/OECD, and both liase with WANO. WANO collaborates with IAEA in many of its work programmes including the scheduling of peer reviews, operational safety review missions and so on.

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