Vyacheslav Pershukov

    PershukovDeputy Director General, Direction of Science and Technology 



    The accident occurred at Fukushima in the midst of the debate about nuclear renaissance, against the background of resumption of activities on electricity production by the means of nuclear technology in many countries. The resonance of these events was very high, and some countries stopped their nuclear program.

    What's in this regard took place in Russia? After the accident in Japan, absolutely all work relating to the safety analysis of research reactors were subject to rigorous scrutiny. If the safety analysis of nuclear power plants has always been the subject of greatest attention even before the developments in Japan, the research reactors, because of their low power,were the subject of safety analysis calculations by conventional methods. But after the accident at the Fukushima efforts to analyze the safety of research reactors sharply increased. All work in this area, including the modernization, which involved significant funding, have been completed. It was an extensive work on the modernization of systems to ensure safe operation. It helped increase the discipline, and most importantly, people’s attitudes to the performance of their duties have been improved.

    The second aspect was more significant. The fact of the accident showed that the task of creating a reactor with inherent safety - not just an abstract problem, but an urgent necessity for the Russian nuclear industry, and for the world community. Therefore, in our country, the work on creation of a inherently safe reactor and the creation of Generation IV reactors has sharply intensified; the work on closing the nuclear fuel cycle and the development of systems of fast reactors has also accelerated. This is a very positive trend. Moreover, by the fall of 2011, the demand for nuclear energy recovered once again.

    The level of activity in the field of fast breeders have also noticeably increased. This also applies to France, with which we have active negotiations in respect of the future cooperation. In addition, Japan is seriously considering a gradual phase out of its fleet of thermal reactors and is now looking towards the creation of fast neutron reactors. The specialists of the industry came to the real understanding that further improvement of thermal reactors do not solve the major long-term issues facing the nuclear industry. This is a question of resource dependence on the uranium-235, the storage of spent nuclear fuel, possibility of accident consequences. Meanwhile, the probability, albeit absolutely insignificant, exists and it creates a major challenge for the public opinion.

    If we talk about closing the nuclear fuel cycle, the closed fuel cycle makes it possible to significantly reduce the amount of storage of spent fuel and radioactive waste, and in the future (in fact in the near future) - to achieve the so-called radiation equivalent for the radioactive waste so low, so that you can easily dispose of these radioactive materials, because they have been treated and reached reactivity and half-life comparable to those materials that exist naturally on the Earth. Not millions of years will then be required for the decrease of activity of such wastes, but tens of years or maximum hundreds. The principles of inherent safety and natural radioactivity equivalent are the key to the work on the development of fast reactors which is actively underway in our country. And Fukushima has become one of the pulses intensifying this activity.