The following news article originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.
The NRC has published a report describing actions taken and planned by the agency and the nuclear energy industry to enhance safety following the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
The U.S. national report was prepared in conjunction with the Energy and State departments and will be presented for international peer review at an extraordinary session of the Convention on Nuclear Safety at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna later this month.
A separate section in the report, developed by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations in cooperation with NEI, describes how the U.S. nuclear industry’s response to the accident is founded on a basis of decades of continual safety improvements.
The Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) was established in 1996 as an “incentive instrument” by which member nations seek to enhance the safety practices in their civilian nuclear programs using a peer review process. Parties to the convention meet every three years to review each other’s national reports on their nuclear safety regimes, including the siting, design, construction, operation and regulation of facilities, as well as safety assessments and emergency preparedness.
With 75 “contracting parties,” all countries with civilian nuclear energy facilities are members of the CNS. In addition there are 10 signatory countries that have not yet ratified the CNS.
At the last regularly scheduled meeting of the CNS, in April 2011 as the events at Fukushima were still unfolding, the body decided to meet in 2012 to review lessons learned and actions taken by member nations in response to the accident.
The U.S. report demonstrates how the NRC and the U.S. nuclear industry are addressing external events, design issues, severe accident management and recovery, national organizations, emergency preparedness and response and post-accident management, and international cooperation.
The first part of the report describes actions the NRC took immediately after the Fukushima accident to ensure there were no immediate safety issues at U.S. nuclear energy facilities. It also describes the recommendations of the agency’s post-Fukushima task force and orders and information requests the NRC issued to the industry.
The second part of the report was developed by INPO in cooperation with the industry, including the Nuclear Energy Institute. It explains how the U.S. industry’s response has been built on its existing regime of procedures, equipment and training, which were enhanced following the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents and the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The industry section also notes the individual plant examinations of external events that were conducted in the 1990s to identify vulnerabilities to severe accidents.
The report shows how the industry has responded after Fukushima, not only by implementing high-priority NRC requirements, but also by initiating its own responses, including the strategic goals and guiding principles in the industry document, “The Way Forward.”
The U.S. report also shows how the industry’s Fukushima responses are integrated and consistent with the NRC’s requirements.
Adrian Heymer, NEI’s executive director for strategic programs, said, “This report outlines the steps that were taken to confirm that the 104 commercial nuclear power plants in the United States are safe, and the additional steps that are being taken to implement improvements that will further enhance safety and provide even greater protection for the American public and environment.”