FAQ

Are operators and governments able to protect surrounding environment and populations in the event of accidents?

Answer

To demonstrate the safety of the plant, the following basic acceptance criteria should be fulfilled to protect the public and the environment: doses and collective doses to workers and the public are required to be within prescribed limits and as low as reasonably achievable, the integrity of barriers to the release of radioactive material should be maintained, functioning of the safety system and main functions (reactivity control and core cooling) should be assured and well defined operator actions. Emergency plans complete the preventive measures. In this way the Government and the regulatory authority are able to control and protect the environment and populations.

Background

To demonstrate the safety of the plant, the following basic acceptance criteria should be fulfilled to protect the public and the environment: (a) The individual doses and collective doses to workers and the public are required to be within prescribed limits and as low as reasonably achievable in all operational states by ensuring mitigation of the radiological consequences of any accident. (b)The integrity of barriers to the release of radioactive material (i.e. the fuel itself, the fuel cladding, the primary and/or secondary reactor coolant system, the primary and/or secondary containment) should be maintained, depending on the categories of plant states which require their integrity. (c) The capabilities of systems that, and operators who, are intended to perform a safety function, directly or indirectly, should be ensured for the accidents for which performance of the safety function is required. (d) In some designs, it is required that early large releases of radioactive material be practically excluded. (e) Requirements for operator actions, with account taken of the specific accident environment (e.g. the reliability of the alarm system and habitability of the control areas).

Compliance with acceptance criteria should always be demonstrated in licensing applications. Acceptance criteria for design basis accidents may be supplemented by criteria that relate to severe accidents. These are typically core damage frequency, prevention of consequential damage to the containment, large early release frequency, probability of scenarios requiring emergency measures off the site, limitation of the release of specific radionuclides such as Cs137, dose limits and/or risks to the most exposed individual, all this is performed by probabilistic studies.
The government through its safety authority is then in a position to protect the populations and the environment. In addition, emergency preparedness and planning with regular exercises complete the actions to protect against potential consequences of an accident.
 
Reference: 2009 IAEA SAFETY STANDARDS SERIES No. SSG-2
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