Now Available: New IAEA Safety Guide on Protection Against Internal and External Hazards for Nuclear Power Plants

Helping countries strengthen measures and improve processes to keep nuclear power plants safe from internal and external risks is the focus of an IAEA Safety Guide released last month.

Guidance – Protection Against Internal and External Hazards in Nuclear Power Plant Operation (SSG-77) – provides guidance on enhanced protection against internal and external hazards in nuclear power plant operations as well as updated recommendations based on lessons learned from incidents and accidents at nuclear power plants around the world.

“Internal and external risks, such as those induced by climate change, are evolving, and some may pose high levels of threat to the operational safety of nuclear power plants. At the same time, nuclear power plant operators are strengthening their protection against the potential effects of internal and external hazards through various means such as physical barriers and operational security measures,” said Anna Hajduk Bradford, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Installation Safety.

The publication includes specific recommendations for preparedness and response to prevent, protect and mitigate the effects of various hazards that can occur inside and outside nuclear power plants, such as internal fires or floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, extreme weather conditions, electromagnetic interference and combinations thereof.

One of the key elements covered is that, although it may not be practical or possible to prevent a hazard or its impacts from triggering a planned operational event, risk management should ensure that, to the extent possible, a hazard does not trigger a more serious plant situation. condition, leading to accident conditions, such as fires that can lead to the failure of critical electrical cables, damage to safety systems as well as equipment failures. several failures of the security system.

“All countries with nuclear power plants are encouraged to use this Safety Guide to perform a self-assessment or to request assistance from the IAEA to identify potential shortcomings and continuously improve the plants’ resilience to internal and external risks,” Bradford added.

IAEA safety standards serve as the global benchmark for protecting people and the environment against the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. The objective of SSG-77 is to contribute to this objective by providing, together with other IAEA safety requirements and related recommendations, best practices and approaches for addressing the operational aspects of protection against hazards and dealing with applicable hazard combinations.

Underlining the importance of this publication, Bharat Patel, a user of the guide, who is a Policy Officer at the European Commission, said: “Operational experience and data from European nuclear power plants show that operators need to be vigilant facing various hazards, including fire. The release of SSG-77 is timely as the next topical peer review under the EU Nuclear Safety Directive will specifically address the subject of fire protection in nuclear facilities.

The recommendations in this Safety Guide are primarily addressed to nuclear power plant operators and regulatory bodies. The recommendations are also of interest to other organizations involved in the design, construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants, including technical support organizations, suppliers such as designers, engineering contractors, manufacturers, research institutes and universities providing support services. of a nuclear power plant, as well as the organizations involved in mitigating these risks.

“Hazard consideration varies from plant to plant, depending on location and design,” said Kazufumi Nagashima, IAEA nuclear safety officer and focal point for this publication. “Many countries recognize that human and organizational performance is essential and common to all these facilities, in order to effectively protect them from internal and external hazards.

Operational safety measures against these hazards include aspects such as defining the roles and responsibilities of personnel, communicating forecast information inside and outside the plant, managing the effects of plant design changes, the plant, as well as training and exercises.

IAEA Safety Standards

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a solid framework of fundamental principles, requirements and guidance for ensuring safety. They reflect an international consensus and constitute a worldwide reference for the protection of people and the environment against the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

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Susan W. Lloyd