The world's reactor vendors have come together to set up a code of conduct to ensure best practice in the export of nuclear power plants, especially to countries that are embarking on their nuclear power programs.
Nine companies, embracing all current exporters of nuclear reactors, have signed up to the Nuclear Power Plant Exporters' Principles of Conduct expressing the expected standards for corporate self-management in that business. The six principles, which incorporate recommended best practices in safety, security, environmental protection and spent fuel management, nonproliferation, business ethics and internationally recognized systems for compensation, are the culmination of a three-year-long drafting process. The process has been completed under the leadership of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Candu Energy (AECL)
GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy
Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy
Korea Electric Power Company
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Westinghouse Electric Company
Carnegie president Jessica Mathews described the initiative as unique in the history of the nuclear industry, saying that it would help to enhance confidence in the commercial nuclear power plant sector. "While recognizing the preeminent regulatory role of governments, these companies are reaffirming their own vigilance as responsible stewards of nuclear technology," she said.
While development of the principles began years before the Fukushima accident, the completed text reflects some initial lessons learned. The principles will also be reviewed and revised as appropriate, giving future opportunities to incorporate more lessons learned from Fukushima or indeed any future event.
As well as reiterating the companies' independent commitments to conducting business in an ethical, transparent manner, the principles incorporate the requirements of international treaties. They reflect and conform with the guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, the principles have been drawn up in an initiative that comes in its entirety from the private sector, and have been developed without governmental or IAEA oversight. All funding has come from private foundations and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. No government or industry funding was involved in negotiating the principles, beyond the vendors paying for their own expenses.
World Nuclear Association (WNA) director general John Ritch praised Carnegie's constructive role in facilitating the agreement, and said that the "new and detailed" principles for reactor vendors would now take a prominent place alongside the WNA Charter of Ethics, which already constitutes a commitment to international law and the highest international standards among companies in all sectors of the industry. The WNA Charter includes uranium miners, enrichers, transporters, waste managers, and nuclear plant operators as well as reactor vendors. "We particularly appreciate Carnegie's implicit recognition that nuclear is an invaluable clean-energy technology and that the proper focus today is not whether it should be deployed worldwide but rather how best to do so," he said.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News