The members of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) have unanimously approved a series of recommendations aimed at making it "more effective, credible, efficient and visible."
At the eleventh WANO biennial general meeting – held in Shenzhen, China on 25 October – some 600 participants pledged their support for the recommendations developed by the WANO Post-Fukushima Commission. The Commission, which was established in the immediate aftermath of the accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, was charged with determining what changes WANO should implement based on the lessons learned from the event to help prevent or mitigate a similar occurrence in the future, and to close the gaps in WANO performance.
The Commission – comprising 14 CEOs and senior executives from utilities worldwide - put forward five recommendations for discussion by the WANO governing board in advance of the general meeting. The recommendations were approved by the board in a meeting on 23 October. These included expanding the scope of WANO's activities; developing a world-wide integrated event response strategy; improving WANO's credibility, including important changes to WANO's peer review process; improving visibility; and improving the quality of all WANO products and services.
"The members of WANO
have cast their vote and
pledged to increase
their commitment to
nuclear safety in the
face of the biggest
challenges the nuclear
industry has confronted
in 25 years."
Laurent Stricker, WANO
Peer reviews - in-depth and objective analysis of plant operations by an independent team of nuclear experts drawn from other members' plants - lie at the heart of WANO's programs. WANO said that it will expand the scope of its peer reviews and other programs. This includes adding emergency preparedness and severe accident management to its existing activities. The organization said that it "will not reduce its emphasis on accident prevention, but will simply add to its scope of activities in recognition of the fact that an accident in the future is possible, however remote."
It aims to strengthen its peer review activities by increasing their frequency and conducting a corporate peer review at each member utility within the next six years. WANO will also conduct self assessments at its London head office and at each of its four regional offices (in Atlanta, Moscow, Paris and Tokyo) to improve the "quality and consistency" of its activities and services. These reviews are likely to take place every four years. The organization said that it will seek additional experienced staff in all of its offices in order to meet its aims.
WANO said that it will also put into place an internal emergency response procedure that clearly defines roles and responsibilities in the event of a nuclear emergency. It will also take additional initiatives of working with other key industry organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Nuclear Association and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.
While the Fukushima accident "was not a failure of WANO," the organization said that it did "point out some gaps in existing WANO activities, such as emergency preparedness, severe accident management, on site fuel storage, and, to some extent, design issues." The current recommendations, it claims, will result in a "stronger, more effective WANO and nuclear industry." It added, "By our members committing their resources to a stronger WANO ... they are committing to stronger nuclear safety. It is a win-win situation."
According to WANO, "Knowing that there is an industry organization focused on high standards of nuclear safety worldwide has to, in our opinion, have a positive effect on public confidence."
WANO chairman Laurent Stricker, said, "It is clear that our industry has recognised and risen to the challenges ahead by pledging its commitment to a new, stronger WANO. The events of this year have led many organisations to fundamentally reassess their roles, responsibilities and effectiveness, and WANO is no exception." He added, "The changes to WANO that have been approved today underscore our shift as an organisation from simply accident prevention, to prevention and mitigation."
Stricker commented: "The members of WANO have cast their vote and pledged to increase their commitment to nuclear safety in the face of the biggest challenges the nuclear industry has confronted in 25 years. It is now up to WANO and its members collectively to deliver on the commitments that have been made here in Shenzhen. The hard work lies before us, but I am confident that our united will shall mean that our industry emerges from these challenges with a renewed focus and dedication to safety and to the mission of WANO."
A four year plan is to be developed to introduce the changes, with the most urgent actions being started immediately.
WANO is a non-profit member association that brings together every company in the world that operates nuclear power facilities and has the sole mission of helping its members to achieve the highest levels of operational safety and reliability.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News