WANO, the World Association of Nuclear Operators, recently participated in the IAEA's (International Atomic Energy Agency) ministerial conference on Fukushima, held during the week of June 20 in Vienna. WANO represented the world's nuclear plant operators at this high level conference, organized by the IAEA to address the lessons emerging from the Fukushima accident.
At the conference, WANO's Chairman Laurent Stricker said that WANO is preparing to strengthen its activities in response to Fukushima. WANO has already asked the operators of every nuclear power plant in the world to take "specific actions to verify their ability to deal with a station blackout or a beyond-design-basis event like fire or flood." Every nuclear operator in the world, with the exception of Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini, responded to WANO on the actions they have or plan to take. More WANO recommendations are to be issued to operators soon on used fuel storage.
In addition, the WANO Governing Board has established a high level commission that has been tasked with recommending changes to WANO programs and organisation as a result of the lessons from Fukushima. This commission, chaired by Tom Mitchell, chief executive officer of Ontario Power Generation, will complete its work and their recommendations will be presented to nuclear company chief executives at the WANO Biennial General Meeting in Shenzhen this October.
"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", Mr Stricker says.
In the intermediate to long term, it is clear WANO must change. It will wait for the internal commission review to be completed before knowing the full scope of changes to be made, but some of the actions that are already clear are the following:
WANO will better define its roles and responsibilities in an emergency, such as Fukushima. WANO will add emergency preparedness as a core review area to each and every WANO peer review.
WANO will look more closely at fuel storage – including fuel pools and dry cask storage. It may be necessary to develop international standards of excellence in this area and conduct reviews at every member utility.
WANO will need to look at some aspects of design. This is perhaps the most challenging area.
WANO is a not-for-profit organization formed following the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with Regional Centres in Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, and Atlanta, in addition to a London office. Its mission is to share best practices in operation and maintenance of commercial nuclear generating plants among its members and to promote the highest levels of nuclear safety. Every operator of a commercial nuclear plant in the world is a member of WANO.