INuclear “Nuclear safety”
No industry is insusceptible to accidents, however, lessons are learned when they occur. In the aviation industry, accidents are recorded annually and they are methodically analyzed. In the chemical industry and oil-gas industry, major accidents also lead to improved safety. The public has accepted the risks associated with these industries considering our huge dependence on their products and services. With nuclear power, the high energy density makes the potential hazard obvious, and this has always been factored into the design of nuclear power plants. The few accidents in the nuclear industry have been very popular, but of little consequence in terms of human fatalities. The newsworthiness of nuclear power accidents remains high in contrast with other industrial accidents, which receive comparatively little news coverage.
A specific nuclear situation was the loss of coolant resulting in the melting of the core of the nuclear reactor, and this inspired experiments on both the physical and chemical potential and the biological effects of any released radioactivity. Those in charge of nuclear power technology made unprecedented efforts to ensure that a reactor core failure would not occur, as it was believed that a core meltdown would create a major public threat and if not contained, a tragic accident with likely multiple deaths.
NUCLEAR ACCIDENT IN HISTORY
The nuclear industry has been very effective in preventing these incidents. For over 17,000 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation for 33 countries, nuclear power plants have experienced just three major accidents. The three significant accidents in the 50-year history of civil nuclear power generation are:
•Three Mile Island (USA 1979) where the reactor was severely damaged but radiation was contained and there were no adverse health or environmental consequences.
•Chernobyl (Ukraine 1986) where the destruction of the reactor by steam explosion and fire killed two people initially plus a further 28 from radiation poisoning within three months, and had significant health and environmental consequences.
•Fukushima (Japan 2011) where three old reactors (together with a fourth) were written off after the effects of loss of cooling due to a huge tsunami were inadequately contained. There were no deaths or serious injuries due to radioactivity, though about 19,000 people were killed by the tsunami.
CONSEQUENCE OF NUCLEAR ACCIDENT
of all the incidents, only Chernobyl and Fukushima resulted in higher doses of radiation to the public than those resulting from natural sources exposure. The Fukushima accident resulted in some radiation exposure of workers at the plant, but not such as to threaten their health, unlike Chernobyl. Other incidents have been completely confined to the plant.
Apart from Chernobyl, no nuclear workers or members of the public have ever lost their lives from radiation exposure due to a commercial nuclear reactor incident. Most of the serious radiological injuries and deaths that occur each year (2-4 deaths and many more exposures above regulatory limits) results from large uncontrolled radiation sources, such as abandoned medical or industrial equipment.
SETUP OF IAEA
In 1957, The United Nations set up The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to act as an auditor of world nuclear safety and this role was increased greatly following the Chernobyl accident. It prescribes safety procedures and the reporting of even minor incidents. The role of the agency has been strengthened since 1996. Every country operating a nuclear power plants has a nuclear safety inspectorate and all of these work closely with the IAEA.
Operating workers’ safety is a major concern at nuclear power plants. By using remote handling devices for many activities in the core of the plant, radiation exposure is reduced. Other controls include physical shielding and limiting the time spent by workers in areas with significant levels of radiation. These are enabled by continuous monitoring of individual exposures and the working environment to ensure relatively minimal exposure to radiation compared to other industries.
It can be considered extremely safe to use nuclear energy for electricity generation. Many people die each year in coal mines to provide energy for this commonly used commodity. The use of fossil fuel also has significant health and environmental effects. To date, no deaths have occurred even in the Fukushima accident and the IAEA stated in June 2011: “to date, no health effects have been reported in any person as a result of radiation exposure.” Subsequent WHO and UNSCEAR reports have supported this.
Although nuclear power plants are designed to operate safely and securely in the case of any failure or accident, no industrial activity can be described as completely risk-free. Incidents and injuries will occur, and what is learned can lead to a significant change in safety, as in other industries.
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Source: World Nuclear Association
Written by: Yvonne Sefakor Dzovor
Edited by: Priscilla Obeng Oforiwaa
Translated by: Zhang Jing & Zhang Chao & Nate
Published by: Zhang Chao
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