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

Unknown said…
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
Unknown 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

Why Ex-Im Bank Board Nominations Will Turn the Page on a Dysfunctional Chapter in Washington

In our present era of political discord, could Washington agree to support an agency that creates thousands of American jobs by enabling U.S. companies of all sizes to compete in foreign markets? What if that agency generated nearly billions of dollars more in revenue than the cost of its operations and returned that money – $7 billion over the past two decades – to U.S. taxpayers? In fact, that agency, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), was reauthorized by a large majority of Congress in 2015. To be sure, the matter was not without controversy. A bipartisan House coalition resorted to a rarely-used parliamentary maneuver in order to force a vote. But when Congress voted, Ex-Im Bank won a supermajority in the House and a large majority in the Senate. For almost two years, however, Ex-Im Bank has been unable to function fully because a single Senate committee chairman prevented the confirmation of nominees to its Board of Directors. Without a quorum

An Ohio School Board Is Working to Save Nuclear Plants

Ohio faces a decision soon about its two nuclear reactors, Davis-Besse and Perry, and on Wednesday, neighbors of one of those plants issued a cry for help. The reactors’ problem is that the price of electricity they sell on the high-voltage grid is depressed, mostly because of a surplus of natural gas. And the reactors do not get any revenue for the other benefits they provide. Some of those benefits are regional – emissions-free electricity, reliability with months of fuel on-site, and diversity in case of problems or price spikes with gas or coal, state and federal payroll taxes, and national economic stimulus as the plants buy fuel, supplies and services. Some of the benefits are highly localized, including employment and property taxes. One locality is already feeling the pinch: Oak Harbor on Lake Erie, home to Davis-Besse. The town has a middle school in a building that is 106 years old, and an elementary school from the 1950s, and on May 2 was scheduled to have a referendu

Why #NEA17 Is at the Intersection of Nuclear’s Present and Future

Nuclear power is working for America. On May 22, hundreds of engineers, scientists, plant operators, entrepreneurs and students will gather in Scottsdale, at the annual Nuclear Energy Assembly , to talk about the multiple benefits that our technology provides, and the challenges and opportunities ahead. In preparation, NEI's Matt Wald sat down recently with Lenka Kollar , the director of business strategy at NuScale Power , the company that submitted the first application for design certification of a small modular reactor . Lenka will be a panelist on the first day of the conference. NuScale is one of several companies working on small modular reactors, reactors that can be built in a factory and then shipped by barge, rail or truck to sites around the country or the world. It’s not quite plug-and-play, but it’s closer to it than anything the nuclear industry has done so far. NuScale is further down the path to deployment than others; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rece