Nuclear risk centre opens in Japan

02 October 2014

A nuclear risk research centre has been established in Japan to carry out research and development necessary for utilities to improve safety on their own initiative.

The Nuclear Risk Research Centre (NRRC) - set up by Japan's Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) in Tokyo - was officially opened on 1 October. It has a staff of some 110. Most of NRRC's research activities will be conducted at CRIEPI's facilities in Tokyo and Chiba.

CRIEPI said that following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, "it is vital to continually strive for even higher levels of safety in the use of nuclear power generation. To that end, it will be necessary for nuclear utilities themselves to go further than simply meeting the regulatory requirements and to pursue sustained commitment to reduce nuclear risk."

It said that to reduce risk at nuclear facilities it is "imperative" to put in appropriate measures against natural disasters, as well as other events that are "of low frequency, yet have the potential to cause significant damage." It is also important to have measures in place to mitigate any damage in the event of an accident, CRIEPI said.

"For that purpose, it will be necessary to predict the progression and behaviour of accidents at power stations that have been caused by such events, and formulate countermeasures," it said. "Moreover, because the focus is on events that are of low frequency and involve substantial uncertainty, it is necessary to verify the effectiveness of measures based on comprehensive risk assessments utilizing probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) and other probabilistic methods."

CRIEPI said that it has established the NRRC "to more effectively harness the human resources and research infrastructure in related fields it has collected to date." In order to encourage the power industry and broader industrial sector to cooperate in carrying out research and development and sharing the results, it has "created a framework for joint studies by various levels of the management hierarchy."

In order to strengthen international cooperation within NRRC's activities, CRIEPI has invited "world-class authorities of nuclear safety with strong leadership experience" to serve as NRRC executives. Former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) commissioner George Apostolakis is head of NRRC. Richard Meserve, a former NRC chairman, will serve as executive advisor while John Stetkar, currently chairman of the NRC's advisory committee on reactor safeguards, will chair NRRC's technical advisory committee.

CRIEPI, a non-profit organization, is primarily funded by 11 Japanese power utilities and conducts research in such areas as nuclear power technology, stable power supply technology and environmental energy technology.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News