Skip to main content

Diplomatic Differences Don’t Alter Shared Goals in International Nuclear Safety

Dale Klein
The following is a post by Dale Klein, former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and now Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at The University of Texas System.

All nations with nuclear energy programs share the same goals of protection of the public health and safety along with the efficient operation of their commercial reactors, implemented in accordance with their own policies, laws and regulations. Never more so than since the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi site three and a half years ago.

Recent reports from both Bloomberg News and Reuters have shed new light on differences in approaches to enhancing safety at nuclear power plants in the international community. With that in mind, I’d like to take a closer look at the post-Fukushima actions the U.S. industry has taken to make plants that are already safe even safer.

Each U.S. plant site is procuring additional equipment such as portable pumps and generators to perform key safety functions if off-site electrical supplies and several backup power sources for permanently installed safety systems are lost due to natural and/or manmade causes. Key actions also include improved training of plant personnel and off-site emergency plans to respond safely to extreme events. In the event that additional back-up equipment is needed, the U.S. industry has put in place two national response centers which can supply this equipment to any nuclear plant site in the U.S. within 24 hours.

The U.S. is also in the process of re-analyzing natural challenges to the plants, including earthquakes and flooding, and making provisions for safe responses to events greater in magnitude for which the plants were originally designed.

The U.S. plants most like those at Fukushima are also installing reliable containment vents that will maintain the integrity of the reactor containment even if the nuclear core is damaged. And, the industry is cooperating with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to determine the optimal vent filtration method using a performance-based approach that focuses the response to a severe accident on those actions best able to manage the accident and mitigate potential radiation releases.

There are multiple methods for ensuring safety. The U.S. is greatly enhancing its ability to handle challenges to the plants no matter what causes them. Despite diplomatic differences, the U.S. and European community share a common goal: protection of the public and the environment.

Comments

Dear Mr. Klein,
I am a news writer from the Russian International Information Agency "RIA Novosti" and am currently working on the issue of the changes to the Convention on Nuclear Safety proposed by Switzerland in order to prevent explosions like on Fukushima plant.

I would be deeply grateful if You could provide our agency with a brief personal commentary on the issue, that would be an indeed precious material.

Here are several questions that You could answer, but also please feel free to comment on any aspect You find interesting.

- What are the main reasons for US opposition to the Swiss initiative?
- What will be the approximate losses for the US nuclear plants if the changes are adopted?
- In Your opinion, how realistic are the changes that Switzerland proposes? How expensive could the implementation be?
- How necessary are these changes in what concerns public safety?
- Will the changes be adopted? Will the US take further steps to bloc with Russia that also opposes the Swiss proposals?

I appreciate Your time and consideration.
If You would like to have a phone conversation instead of writing in e-mail, please let me know by answering to this letter.

Kind regards,
Anastasia Levchenko
Anonymous said…
Dear Mrs. Levchenko,

Could you contact me please at:
jeandaniel.praz@eda.admin.ch
Ellie Austin said…
The right question is: "What is the main reason for the Swiss initiative?" Such reason is not the safety of nuclear power plants, but the desire to stop the development of nuclear industry, which is not in the plans of the US and Russia. The Swiss proposal is attacking even the latest reactor designs, with numerous redundant safety features. It would create an undue burden on the nuclear industry. There is no chance that the initiative would be adopted. The proposal is not made in good faith, technically unsound, unnecessary and unfeasible. Yes, the US will take further steps to block with any country, including Russia, to protect its interests.

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …