‘N-plant vendors improving designs to raise safety standards’

Moscow: Global nuclear power plant vendors have improved their designs and worked on issues like reprocessing of spent fuel to enhance the safety standards following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, a top official of the World Association of Nuclear Operators said today.

“Of course, there are lot of steps. All the vendors are improving their design post Fukushima (disaster) and many vendors have made improvement in their design,” said Jacques Regaldo, Chairman, WANO.

Talking to reporters here on the sidelines of the ATOMEXPO 2016, a nuclear conference attended by many countries including India, Regaldo said nuclear operators now share the operating feedback and emulate the best practises world wide.

“Obviously, I think nuclear safety is important for every country,” he said even as a host of speakers in the conference batted for atomic energy, more importantly as a clean source of energy that could help bring down the carbon emissions.

According to WANO website, it “unites every company and the country in the world that has an operating commercial nuclear power plant to achieve the highest possible standards of nuclear safety.”

Asked how nuclear energy would help battle global warming, especially for a developing country like India, Regaldo said that such kind of power was the “best solution.”

“Obviously, countries with increasing demand for electricity and energy need nuclear energy because they need baseloads of power and baseloads of power can only be supplied by fossil (power) plants or nuclear plants. To reduce the CO2 emissions, nuclear plants is the best solution,” he said.

Asked about the safety apprehensions, he said that “safety is the condition for nuclear development.”

Regaldo said several countries were focusing on the issue of reprocessing of spent fuel and finding ways to dispose of radioactive waste.

“Several countries are now experimenting on permanent and long-term solutions for high level radioactive waste and I think it is not without solutions… There are temporary solutions and I am not anxious about that,” he added.

The three-day ATOMEXPO 2016 began today. It is the largest exhibition venue for meetings and negotiations between world leaders of the nuclear power sector.

Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station located in the Pacific Ocean coast received huge damage by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. It was the larges. Earlier, Deputy Director General of IAEA MV Chudakov said more and more countries were opting for nuclear energy and the UN body was helping in creating necessary infrastructure for safe operations of nuclear energy.

“We believe in the future of nuclear power,” he said while addressing the conference.

Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association, said that share of nuclear power in the global energy balance will be growing, with more than a thousand new reactors likely to be constructed by 2050.

“Share of nuclear power in the global energy balance will be growing. More than a thousand new nuclear reactors may be constructed and commissioned by 2050. This is a very important task as we need to reduce hydrocarbon consumption globally,” she said.

She said that Russia was successfully performing transfer of technology and nuclear power plant operation practises to other countries, which was “particularly important in view of the fact that more and more countries are opting for nuclear power”.

Meanwhile, various speakers at the plenary session batted in support of nuclear energy to reduce carbon emission.

SV Kiriyenko, General Director, Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, said developing countries were “paying a lot of attention” to nuclear power and other forms of power.

Bruno Comby, President, Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, favoured atomic power and insisted that zero carbon situation was feasible but with more use of nuclear power to ensure that.

Nuclear energy was “compact, abundant and cheap enough,” he said, adding that when compared to other forms like oil, lesser quantity of uranium could generate more power.

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