Human aspects of nuclear safety:
Challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic
The ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic is having a major impact on the workforce around the world, from how people carry out their work under necessary social distancing rules to the unavailability of workers due to sickness or having to take care of others. The nuclear workforce is adapting to these unprecedented conditions and ensuring the safe and reliable generation of nuclear energy around the world. To explore how the nuclear sector is responding to the human and organisational challenges arising from the COVID‑19 pandemic, the NEA convened a special workshop on 9 April 2020 moderated by the NEA Director‑General William D. Magwood, IV. Watch the workshop recording here: oe.cd/nea‑covid‑19‑2.
In this discussion, you will hear from some of the leading names in nuclear safety, regulation and operations from across the globe on critical questions around the human aspects of nuclear safety during the COVID‑19 pandemic:
CSNI Programme Review Group holds its first virtual meeting
The NEA Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) relies on a group of senior experts, called the CSNI Programme Review Group (PRG), to help ensure the quality of its reports and the alignment of its activities with strategic priorities. The group is comprised of senior experts with broad programmatic experience and high‑level responsibilities in nuclear safety technology and research. Recognising that it is important that the CSNI's programme of work continues, the PRG held its annual review meeting on 27‑28 April 2020 by video conference. While the meeting was reduced to 3‑hour sessions in order to respect the different time zones in which PRG members live, the group was very content to have been able to review 12 technical reports, eight proposals for new activities and four proposals for new research projects. These included a forthcoming report on advancing the robustness of electrical power systems of nuclear power plants and a workshop on seismic input for rock sites in different regions of the world.
The safety of advanced reactors
The NEA Working Group on the Safety of Advanced Reactors (WGSAR) held its biannual meeting via video conference on 23‑24 April 2020. The group members exchanged updates on the status of Gen‑IV technologies in each member country. They made progress on the development of two technical reports on i) fuel qualification for advanced reactors, and ii) regulatory approaches related to the use of analytical codes and methods in the safety assessment of advanced reactors. The meeting also included a discussion of a draft specification for an international benchmark considering a core damage scenario in a lead‑cooled fast reactor system. The benchmark would be used to assess the code capabilities and knowledge gaps relevant to questions raised by regulators.
The Sixth International Conference on Geological Repositories (ICGR 2020) will take place on 8‑11 November 2020 in Helsinki, Finland. Building upon the previous conferences held in Denver (1999), Stockholm (2003), Berne (2007), Toronto (2012) and Paris (2016), ICGR 2020 will focus on "Advancing Geological Repositories from Concept to Operation" and demonstrate the significant progress of geological repositories in the last two decades. The event will bring together high level decision makers from responsible government ministries, regulatory bodies, waste management organisations, research institutes, and local stakeholders, as well as young professionals and students, to review current perspectives of geological repository development. It will show the progress made in the last two decades towards geologic disposal of radioactive waste by facilitating an exchange of information and experience. Participants will discuss various best practices in demonstrating technical reliability and share approaches in building human capacity, as well as in developing stakeholder confidence in the safety construction and operation of long term geological repositories. For more information and to register, please visit www.icgr2020.org.
The NEA Nuclear Law Bulletin welcomes submissions of articles and studies from professionals and academics. Topics generally fall into the following categories: radiation protection and nuclear safety, nuclear installations, radioactive materials, radioactive waste management, environmental protection, non‑proliferation, nuclear third party liability, and nuclear trade. This list is non‑exhaustive and articles have been published outside of these areas, but still related to nuclear law. For an article to be considered in the next edition, final submissions must be received by 1 September. More information on the publication process, time frames, language and house style is available at oe.cd/nea-nlb-sub.
Development of the IDEal database
Following the publication of the State‑of‑the‑Art Report on the progress of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Chemistry in 2018 and some initial development work undertaken as part of the European Seventh Framework Programme project SACSESS (Safety of Actinide Separation Processes), a new database project has been initiated by the NEA Expert Group on Fuel Recycling Chemistry (EGFRC): The International Database on Extractant Ligands (IDEaL). The aim of this project is to develop and populate a database of ligands that can eventually become a valuable source of basic data accessible to the wider actinide separations community. The International Database on Extractant Ligands (IDEaL) has recently undergone its first phase of development. EGFRC members are currently beta testing the newly‑developed interface and continue reviewing data.
Tokyo Tech to join TAF-ID
The Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) is in the process of joining the NEA Thermodynamics of Advanced Fuels – International Database (TAF‑ID) Project as the third Japanese organisation participating in the project, together with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI).
Tokyo Tech's participation in the project will significantly improve the TAF‑ID experimental programme in support of the database development. The institute proposed an in‑kind contribution to the project involving the measurement of thermodynamic data relevant to the ongoing development and validation of the TAF‑ID database. The systems addressed in this proposal, which is currently under review by the TAF‑ID Programme Review Group, are the liquid phases of Cs2O‑MoO3, BaO‑MoO3, SrO‑MoO3 pseudo‑binaries, and the CaO‑SiO2‑ZrO2 pseudo‑ternary. As the first three systems involve volatile and semi‑volatile fission products oxides, their improved understanding will provide useful information on the potential fission products release in the event of a severe accident. The fourth system is relevant to the study of the molten core‑concrete interaction in the event of a reactor pressure vessel failure.
The 4th edition of the annual NEA Thermochemical Database (TDB) Project course on thermodynamic data collection and assessment will take place on 12‑13 November 2020 in Paris, France. This two‑day course is designed to familiarise scientists with current NEA TDB activities and standards, provide an overview of data collection and analysis techniques, and work through some real system examples to demonstrate the critical evaluation and data assessment process. Find out more and apply at oe.cd/nea-tdb-2020.
An online archive of previous editions is available here.
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