Scientists for improved safety features in N-plants

“The safety requirements for future nuclear power plants should be refined to assure that their backup cooling systems are able to operate for a long enough time following a complete loss of on-site and off-site power,” they said.

The Japan incident was precipitated by the failure of back-up cooling mechanism of the nuclear reactor by the tsunami. In the absence of a cooling system, enormous amount of heat was trapped inside the reactor causing the problem. Absence of electricity in the nuclear complex for five days, further complicated the situation.

The future nuclear power plants should be able to promptly restore or compensate for lost power, the group of 16 nuclear scientists, including former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar, said in a statement.

The statement comes ahead of the IAEA high-level ministerial conference on nuclear safety in June which will take stock of the Fukushima situation and suggest measures to strengthen nuclear safety. New plants, they said, should be sited away from areas of extreme natural and man-made hazards. The next-generation nuclear power plants should ensure safety even if operating personnel are unable to provide immediate response in an emergency.

Renewed attention should be given to safety requirements for plants built to earlier safety standards. In light of the failure of the redundant safety system caused by the tsunami, authorities should relook at this failure and other common mode failure vulnerabilities in operating plants.

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