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OECD Nuclear Energy Agency Examines Lessons Learned from Fukushima Daiichi Accident
Posted on November 22nd, 2013

The Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident has provided an abundance of data related to the accuracy of predictive safety system failure computational modeling, the efficacy of accident management protocols and crisis communication, specific safety related structure performance under extreme conditions and other data that can assist in future disaster recovery efforts at the Daiichi site.  While defense in depth (DiD) safety systems implemented in existing plant designs are considered to be well suited to handle internal failures, they could not withstand the external pressures exerted by a national disaster of the scale of the tsunami that led to the Fukushima Daiichi accident.  

The International community is devoted to applying lessons learned to existing and future nuclear power plant (NPP) designs and regulatory guidelines.  The OECD is leading this effort through the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), who has formed a number of work groups that are addressing specific topics related to the analysis of safety system failures at the Fukushima Daiichi site and the effectiveness of applied accident and emergency management procedures following the event.  In addition, several work groups are focused on assessing radiological protection policy and application in the context of the Fukushima Daiichi event. The ultimate goal for each workgroup is to apply lessons learned to recommendations for NPP safety system enhancements, disaster mitigation plans and improvements to applicable regulatory guidance.  More information on the mission of the NEA work groups can be found here.

RSCS was invited to participate in the Information System on Occupational Exposure (ISOE) Expert Group on Occupational Radiation Protection in Severe Accident Management and Post-Accident Recovery (EG-SAM).  RSCS Principle James Tarzia has been a member of this work group since April 2012.  

The ISOE provides a forum for radiation protection professionals from nuclear electricity utilities and national regulatory authorities worldwide to share dose reduction information and operational experience to optimize worker radiological protection at nuclear power plants. In addition, ISOE with its participating utilities and groups is a core group in developing safe, sustainable and societally acceptable strategies for emerging issues in the field of occupational radiation protection.

The ISOE EG-SAM was established by the ISOE board in 2011 in response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Facility to provide future guidance on methods to minimize the impact of severe accidents to workers and the public.  They are drafting a document that identifies factors and aspects which played key roles in achieving good practice on occupational radiation protection during initial and post-accident recovery phases of a severe accident.

This work group met at the NEA Headquarters in Paris, France on November 21st to discuss the contents of their draft report which applies lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident to radiation protection (RP) management, training and exercises, plant designs and safety systems, occupational dose, worker safety, contamination control measures and future decommissioning considerations.  The document specifically addresses RP management approaches for mitigating a severe accident and the access controls needed for a highly damaged site, including guidelines on access to high radiation and highly contaminated areas, selection of proper RP protective tools, recommended instrumentation for use in severe accident conditions, means to fix and eliminate contamination, and emergency/accident individual dosimetry and assessment.

Due for release in 2014, this report will be presented at the International ISOE Workshop on Occupational Radiation Protection in Severe Accident Management co-sponsored by the NEI in Washington DC.  More information on this and concurrent NEA workshops can be found here.

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