NUCLEAR INDUSTRY AND THE RECENT PAST

In this section, recent past in taken to infer the last decade.

There has generally been an improvement of performance at many plants. This has been evident from a number of performance measures, e. g. from WANO indexes and in the US, the Institute of Nuclear power Operations (INPO) (Sinco, 2003). This has been driven by better leadership and improved plant management.

Another driver for improved performance has been the move towards deregulation of the electricity industries in some countries, e. g. the US and the UK. This has resulted in competition in the electricity markets between all providers, nuclear and non-nuclear.

The last decade has seen the shutdown of some nuclear plants, for both safety and for economic reasons. For example, first generation VVER plants operating in former Eastern Germany were shutdown, following re-unification, because of safety concerns. On the other hand, business decisions on whether to shutdown some plants prematurely have depended on the scale of cost liabilities being carried.

There have thankfully been no major accidents over the past decade but there have been several incidents that have not helped the cause of the industry. The finding of boric acid corrosion in the reactor vessel head in the Davis-Besse plant has resulted in increased inspection, longer outages, etc. Although not on a reactor, the Tokai-mura incident in a fuel handling plant in Japan has also caused some concern.

Despite some of these more negative aspects, there has been a decade of safe and reliable operation. Building of new power plant in Asia has continued. Particularly in the last five years there has been an increase in confidence in some countries in which the industry was beginning to stagnate and the possibility of new build is now under consideration. This is true for Finland and France in Europe and also in the US.

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