What was your reaction to the natural disaster in Japan
on March 11 and the subsequent accident at
Simply put, the first videos of the tsunami rolling over the
coastal regions were shocking. It was difficult to comprehend the
scale and magnitude of the destruction and loss of life.
The subsequent accident at Fukushima raised many questions in
our minds. Was this preventable? As designers, we design for these
types of events, so what was missed? What can we learn from this so
that it does not happen again?
Has your company been involved in the recovery
operations at Fukushima?
Candu Energy Inc. has not been directly involved in the recovery
operations at Fukushima. In response to queries from the IAEA
however, we did identify individuals with technical expertise who
What actions has Candu carried out in response to
Candu has carried out the following activities:
The Task Team continues to follow any new information that comes
out of Fukushima.
What does the nuclear industry as a whole need to do in
response to Fukushima?
The nuclear industry needs to fully understand the lessons
learned from Fukushima. This is on-going, and there has been
considerable work and sharing of information at organizations such
as IAEA, WANO, INPO and CANDU Owners Group, and with the national
regulators such as the CNSC in Canada. All the stakeholders must
make a concerted effort. The nuclear industry needs to show that
nuclear energy is safe and will continue to provide a reliable and
cost-effective source of power.
What has and can be done at existing nuclear plants to
ensure their safety in response to learning from
The existing NPPs have done assessments in response to WANO,
INPO and regulatory requirements. In addition they have done their
own assessments for vulnerabilities, especially for
beyond-design-basis natural hazards through extensive walkdowns and
analyses to determine whether there are any "cliff edges" in which
there are low margins of safety. Some NPPs have made design
improvements to address any potential vulnerabilities to
beyond-design-basis natural phenomena. In addition, NPPs are making
provisions to bring in additional portable sources of water and
portable power supplies to ensure that there is adequate cooling
for the reactor. Enhancements have been added such as passive
autocatalytic recombiners and a containment filtered air discharge
system to prevent overpressure of containment. The utilities have
also looked at improved emergency response procedures in place,
followed up by practice drills.
What features do new reactor designs offer to address
the issues faced at Fukushima?
New reactors designs have redundancy and passive design features
to ensure the ability to contain, control and cool the reactor,
even in the event of a severe natural event. Designs that have
passive heat sinks, large inventories of water to provide more time
for operator action, additional systems and components will be
included specifically to address severe accidents. The focus will
be to ensure that the core does not get damaged. But even in that
event, the new designs will have provisions to ensure that corium
will be cooled and will not be released outside containment.
Has Fukushima changed your opinion of nuclear
As designers of CANDU NPPs, we have always developed a safe
design with defence in depth. Even though the powerful earthquake
and resulting tsunami was a catastrophic event at Fukushima, we
believe that we will learn from this event and collectively we will
make nuclear power even safer.
Although the events at Fukushima have not changed our opinion of
the value of nuclear power, and its significant benefit to society,
they have reinforced for us the critical role that we, as
designers, have in ensuring that our reactor designs are robust,
and in providing the operators of those plants with the flexibility
to respond to events that have not been envisioned in the original
What do you now see as the future for nuclear
We have learned and will continue to learn from the events at
Fukushima. We see nuclear power remaining an important part of the
energy mix for the world
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