[Ohmynews] “Steep decline in nuclear power of Europe”
Attendance review at the Nuclear Safety Institute (Oct. 29~30. 2019)
Original Article>> http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/View/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0002583229
INRAG (International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group) members among which include Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, France, Sweden, the UK and the USA, were formed in Europe in 2017 to provide independent international expertise for nuclear studies. INRAG member, Oda Becker, was recommended by BUND, a grassroots German NGO founded in 1975 to promote nature conservation and protection for the environment. She studied physics and education science at that University of Hanover. She is an independent self-employed scientific consultant for nuclear risks. She has been to Korea in 2003 to participate in a campaign against radioactive waste in Buan. The plan was scrapped in 2004. This will be her second time visiting Korea.
She was in charge of the third and fourth (total 10 classes of the Nuclear Safety Institute) at Francis Education Center in Jeongdong, Seoul. She lectured at the risk Life-Time Extension (LTE), Long-Term Operation (LTO) of ageing reactors influenced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the 9/11 terrorist attacks that affected the European NPP.
Thinned containment structure of Ageing Reactors, vulnerable to shock.
“TEPO (Tokyo Electric Power Co) failed to learn a lesson from Flooding of the Blayais NPP in France in 1999” Oda Becker said about Fukushima nuclear disaster.
NPP has to be on the beach or on the riverside because of the principle of cooling water. “People neglected to address the possibility of flooding at nuclear power plants at a time when climate change is causing frequent flooding and rising sea levels,” she said. The Fukushima disaster was caused by the loss of all power due to the waterlogging, which stopped the cooling system and evaporated the cooling water to cool the core.
The Fukushima nuclear accident shocked Europe as well, Oda Becker said, showing photos of the flood-stricken U.S. NPP. Because of the climate crisis that was different than before, it has become unpredictable and we have to reinterpret natural disasters,” She said, pointing out that the Tinhange NPP along the Muse River in Belgium is still vulnerable to floods.
Out of the total 146 NPP in Europe 59 of those are between 31-35 years old. As such they are too old to operate. The effect is even greater because the pressure and temperature changes frequently. These days, NPP have two to three containment structure that are 2 meters thick, while old ones have only one container because it is thinner than 1 meter, making them vulnerable to shock,” she said.
Risk of old NPP are maximized when they are repaired or new parts are replaced. This is due to the problem of an unbalanced operation. When welding, there is also a large problem that stresses specific materials and can create unexpected instability in structures that can become vulnerable to external shocks.
“There are a lot of parts that need to be managed well at nuclear power plants, but we can’t check them all because of radiation. These days, the NPP business in Europe was on the decline. The number of manufacturers involved is decreasing, and the quality of their products is getting worse, causing more quality and safety problems.
Europe, after 9/11, there’s been a lot of discussion about NPP.
“In Europe, there has been a lot of discussions about NPP since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It would be disastrous if an airplane crashed into a NPP. We don`t have time to avoid it because it leads to a nuclear explosion,” said Oda Becker. She showed a picture of a helicopter floating on top of the plant.
She said, “When we have a war, we usually use drones to find out all the terrain or locations inside. A French reporter once filmed it by helicopter on top of a NPP. There was no sanctions, an example that shows that NPP are as likely to be targets of terrorist attacks.”
It also pointed out that even after learning that the quake-resistant design of Slovenia’s NPP in earthquake-prone areas is flawed, supplementation is being delayed due to budget problems. Originally, the EU government jointly formed a civilian-oriented official body, the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, in 2007 and has been conducting stress tests of each country since the Fukushima accident, an experiment to see if it can be safe under unexpected or extreme conditions.
ENSREG is a separate monitoring body from the EURATOM (Electronic Reactor Construction Promotion Agency). Nevertheless, it is impressive that a group of homegrown experts such as INRAG are activating.
Still, “each government does not listen to ENSREG’s recommendations,” points out Oda Becker. It is also difficult for the diagnostic team to work on the fact that it is difficult to properly understand whether the improvement program is progressing due to the lack of transparent information on the operation of the nuclear power plants before then, she explained.
Professor Lee Won-young, who is hosting an academy with various members of the Center for Nuclear Risk and Public Interest, said, “It is probably rare in the world to hold courses on nuclear safety technologies for civilians. “The nuclear power plant technology is a secret knowledge that only people know,” he said. “We have no choice but to deal with it in a closed manner even if there are problems with the nature of the plant.”
Professor Lee explained that even if there are problems with NPP, it is easy to cover up until a major accident occurs, and such problems can be piled up as a habit, which can lead to an accident.
If we share the NPP system with the general public, it is easy to deliver even when there is an engineer’ whistle-blowing. I can’t tell you even if I tell you outside now. Through the course, more people will be interested in NPP safety and experts on nuclear plant safety will be encouraged. That would give us a better response to accidents like Three Mile, Chernobyl and Fukushima that shouldn’t happen,” he said.
There are currently few systems that can raise people responsible for the safety of NPP” Lee said. There are also many classes on promotion and operation in the education sector related to NPP, but they are neglecting “safety issues.” Looking at the curricula of nuclear science at universities representing the country, KAIST has no subject in the safety section, while SNU (Seoul National University) has only one subject in reactor safety engineering. Hanyang University hired a safety professor after Fukushima. It is also doubtful whether the safety awareness at the site is being properly educated about the risk prevention system of nuclear power distribution, which is beyond complexity,” he added.
“Although we are still in our infancy, we are planning to hold academies not only in Korea but also in Japan and Germany next year. Furthermore, we hope that countries with NPP will be able to structurally upgrade the safety of NPP that cannot be eliminated immediately if they are publicly discussed,” Lee said.
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