International nuclear safety pledges and promises

01 April 2011

The governing body of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) has pledged to maintain a 'safety first' focus following the events at Fukushima. Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for international nuclear safety standards.

 Sarkozy and Kan (Image: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

Nicolas Sarkozy with Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan

(Image: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

  

WANO was set up following the Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986 as an organisation through which nuclear operators could confidentially share and develop best practice to achieve the highest possible levels of operational safety and reliability. As a non-profit organisation with the sole goal of improving nuclear safety, WANO is unique in uniting every company operating a commercial nuclear power plant.

The body's chairman is EDF's former head of nuclear generation, Laurent Stricker. He promised that WANO would play a leading role in industry safety review and analysis work and application of lessons learned. "The board urges the Fukushima Daiichi plant operator, Tepco, to make full use of WANO support to ensure the full capability of our international organisation can be brought to bear in delivering stability at this plant," he said, calling on Tepco to ensure the delivery of timely and accurate plant status reports.

All CEOs of nuclear operators will be called to a WANO meeting later this year to discuss lessons learned from the events in Japan and to address any necessary changes to WANO's structure and mandate. The organisation has also established a high level commission tasked with recommending changes to the WANO organisation and approach that this event has highlighted.

"The events in Japan will provide many important lessons for the commercial nuclear industry. WANO is committed to aggressively applying these important lessons to strengthen its nuclear safety mission," Stricker said.

Sarkozy calls for international standards

Meanwhile, French president Nicolas Sarkozy has called for international safety standards for nuclear safety. Speaking during an official visit to Japan – the first by a foreign leader since the natural disasters of 11 March – he promised to invite independent nuclear safety authorities from the G20 countries to meet in Paris during May 2011 to work towards such standards.

"It is absolutely anomalous that these international safety standards do not exist," he said during an address to the French community in Japan. The Paris meeting would enable groundwork to be laid for a meeting on the subject scheduled to take place at the International Atomic Energy Agency in June. "For France, civil nuclear power is an essential component of our energy independence and the fight against greenhouse gas emissions," he noted, but this choice was accompanied by an "absolute" requirement for nuclear safety.

 

Sarkozy was joined by another Frenchman in calling for nuclear safety standards to be considered on the global, rather than national, level. World Energy Council chairman, and former chair of GDF and EDF, Pierre Gadonneix is calling for global convergence in safety standards in all energy industries, not just nuclear energy. "With nuclear energy, any accident no matter where in the world has an impact on nuclear plant operation everywhere. It is therefore key that safety conditions are respected equally around the world," he said in an open letter to business and government leaders. His letter to each member committee of the 91-country strong WEC calls for countries to come together "to learn the lessons from Fukushima and to set out a new course to strengthen the global governance of the nuclear industry."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

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