As a direct result of the Chernobyl accident, the world's nuclear operators gathered together in Moscow in 1989 to form WANO – the World Association of Nuclear Operators. WANO was Chernobyl's legacy, the nuclear industry's commitment to prevent such an accident from happening again. By working together through WANO the global nuclear industry has improved the safety and reliability of the world's nuclear power plants.
"Chernobyl was both an end and a beginning," says Luc Mampaey, managing director of WANO. "The accident sent shockwaves through the nuclear industry and marked the end of the old ways – the ways of isolation. It began a new focus on safety through international cooperation."
From the beginning, every utility that operates nuclear electricity generating stations in the world has been a member of WANO. Membership now totals 443 nuclear reactors in more than 30 countries. This unanimity is the key to WANO's strength and its value.
WANO has a very clear mission – 'To maximise the safety and reliability of the operation of nuclear power plants by exchanging information and encouraging communication, comparison and emulation amongst its members.'
WANO's work is achieved through four complementary programmes:
- peer reviews – in addition to each plant's ongoing critical self-assessments, WANO provides an independent team of professionals to examine plant safety. WANO now runs between 30 and 40 peer reviews each year.
- operating experience – event reports from nuclear power plants worldwide are collected by WANO. The lessons learned are passed on to every nuclear plant in a series of reports and an on-line operating experience database.
- professional and technical development – an information exchange forum is provided through workshops, seminars, expert meetings and training courses. WANO regional centres conduct more than 80 such courses and workshops each year.
- technical support and exchange – more than 120 technical support missions are conducted each year, where a group of highly qualified peers visits a plant to solve a specific issue.
"The nuclear industry has made great progress since Chernobyl," says Mampaey. "However, we will not sit back and take this success for granted. We owe this to the memory of Chernobyl."