NEA News

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NEA News is the professional journal of the NEA. It features articles on the latest nuclear energy issues concerning the economic and technical aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear safety and regulation, radioactive waste management, radiological protection, nuclear science and nuclear legislation. Each issue provides facts and opinions on nuclear energy, an update of NEA activities, and a brief presentation of new NEA publications and other NEA news.

2013 Volume 31.2

2013 Volume 31.2
Complete issue
e-book

Editorial - Luis E. Echávarri, NEA Director-General

Facts and opinions

Responding to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident
On 11 March 2011, Japan endured one of the worst combined natural disasters in its history when a massive earthquake struck its eastern coast and was followed by a tsunami which led to the loss of thousands of lives. These combined natural disasters were also at the origin of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident due to the prolonged loss of electric power supply and ultimate heat sink required for cooling. While the accident itself was not responsible for any casualties, it has affected the lives of tens of thousands of displaced Japanese citizens, resulted in very large economic costs and caused considerable environmental damage in the surrounding area.

Progress towards a global nuclear liability regime
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident brought a renewed focus to the discussion of international nuclear liability regimes, and one that is not merely about the theoretical problems involved in the administration of a liability system to compensate damages resulting from a nuclear accident. Although the international conventions on third party nuclear liability are among the oldest international legal instruments bearing on the civilian use of nuclear power, progress towards broader adherence to the nuclear liability conventions has been uneven. This is particularly evident when compared with instruments such as the 1994 Convention on Nuclear Safety, which enjoys broad adherence among states involved in the generation of nuclear energy. While it may be true that nuclear generating states typically have liability legislation consistent with the principles of international regimes, greater harmonisation of law and practice, as well as better management of potential transboundary damages through greater participation in the international regimes, remains an important goal.

State of the art in radiological protection science
Scientific understanding of radiological protection issues continues to improve, and a number of new research developments have prompted renewed work at the NEA on the subject. This includes more in-depth examinations and an update of the NEA Committee on Radiation Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) publications on Developments in Radiation Health Science and their Impact on Radiation Protection (NEA, 1998) and Scientific Issues and Emerging Challenges for Radiation Protection (NEA, 2007). At the time, the 1998 report summarised what the most advanced science could reveal about radiological risks and addressed, in particular, risks at levels of exposure that people and workers experience routinely, below 100 mSv a year. It also presented the most up-to-date results in radiation biology, cell biology, radiation epidemiology, disease causality, and genetic effects, and concluded that much is known about radiological protection science but much remains unknown. This article looks at some of these issues, discusses advances in the state of the art of radiological protection science since the 1998 and 2007 publications, and reviews some future challenges and the way forward.

NEA updates

The economics of the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle

GIF's role in developing the nuclear technologies of the future

Three decades of enhancing confidence in thermodynamic calculations

News briefs

Improved nuclear data services based on JANIS

Knowledge management of neutronics integral experiments

New publications

Catalogue of new NEA publications

2012/2013 Volume 30.2/31.1

2012/2013 Volume 30.2/31.1
Complete issue

Editorial - Luis E. Echávarri, NEA Director-General

Facts and opinions

System effects of nuclear energy and renewables in low-carbon electricity systems
Electric power plants do not operate in isolation. They interact with each other and their customers through the electricity grid, as well as with the wider natural, economic and social environment. Electricity production thus generates costs that accrue at the level of the system beyond the perimeter of the individual plant. Attention has been focusing in particular on the system effects of variable renewables, such as wind and solar. Their increasing deployment generates a number of impacts that profoundly affect the structure, financing and operational mode of electricity systems.

NEA updates

Stakeholder involvement: A central theme in radiological protection

Nuclear power in the United Arab Emirates: Legal framework and regulatory co-operation

Estimation and comparability of nuclear facility decommissioning costs

News briefs

Nuclear power and climate change: The cost of adaptation

International nuclear law essentials

NEA contributions to the worldwide collection, compilation and dissemination of nuclear reaction data

NEA joint projects

New publications

Catalogue of new NEA publications

2012 Volume 30, No. 1

2012 Volume 30, No. 1
Complete issue

Editorial - Luis E. Echávarri, NEA Director-General

Facts and opinions

The NEA integrated response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident
The 11 March 2011 earthquake and massive tsunami that struck the eastern coast of Japan, and ultimately resulted in the core-melt accidents of Fukushima Daiichi units 1-3 and serious cooling problems in the spent fuel pool of unit 4, have left an enormous challenge for the Japanese authorities to address and remediate. For the international nuclear safety community, questions abound as to what lessons can be drawn from this tragic accident to enhance the safety of current and future nuclear power plants worldwide, and to improve emergency response arrangements and strategies on the national and international levels. In the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, NEA member and associated countries looked to the NEA to bring together experts to begin addressing some of the lessons emerging from the accident.

The economic costs of the nuclear phase-out in Germany
In the immediate aftermath of the March 2011 TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, the German federal government decided to temporarily halt the operation of the country's eight oldest energy-producing nuclear reactors. This was accompanied by a cabinet proposal to phase out all 17 of the country's nuclear reactors, which have a combined capacity of 20.5 GW, by 2022. On 31 July 2011 the proposal became law, and the temporary shutdown of the eight reactors was converted into a permanent shutdown by 6 August 2011. The nine remaining reactors are to be phased out progressively by 31 December 2022.

NEA updates

International joint projects on nuclear safety: 30 years of benefits

Good practice in effluent management for new nuclear build

Innovative fuels and structural materials for advanced nuclear energy systems

Radiological characterisation for decommissioning

News briefs

Over two decades of information exchange on partitioning and transmutation

New publications

Catalogue of new NEA publications

2011 Volume 29, No. 2

2011 Volume 29, No. 1
Complete issue

Editorial - Luis E. Echávarri, NEA Director-General

Facts and opinions

Carbon pricing and the competitiveness of nuclear power
A recent NEA study entitled Carbon Pricing, Power Markets and the Competitiveness of Nuclear Energy assesses the competitiveness of nuclear power against coal- and gas-fired power generation in liberalised electricity markets with either CO2 trading or carbon taxes. It uses daily price data for electricity, gas, coal and carbon from 2005 to 2010, which encompasses the first years of the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the world's foremost carbon trading framework. The study shows that even with modest carbon pricing, competition for new investment in electricity markets will take place between nuclear energy and gas-fired power generation, with coal-fired power struggling to be profitable. The data and analyses contained in the study provide a robust framework for assessing cost and investment issues in liberalised electricity markets with carbon pricing, even in the post-Fukushima context.

Fukushima: liability and compensation
On 11 March 2011, Japan endured one of the worst natural disasters in its history when a massive earthquake struck the Pacific coast of the country and was followed by a tsunami which led to considerable loss of lives. It also led to a major accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Soon afterwards, the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), assumed responsibility and liability for the nuclear accident. On 28 April 2011, TEPCO established a dedicated contact line to provide consulting services for financial compensation related to the damage caused.

NEA updates

NEA international peer reviews of post-accident protection policy

MDEP: producing results in a challenging time for nuclear power

Load-following with nuclear power plants

News briefs

International survey of government decisions and recommendations following Fukushima

NEA nuclear law education programmes

NEA joint projects

New publications

Catalogue of new NEA publications

2011 Volume 29, No. 1

2011 Volume 29, No. 1
Complete issue
PDF | Interactive

Editorial - Luis E. Echávarri, NEA Director-General

Facts and opinions

Fukushima
On 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the eastern coast of Japan. This caused the three operating units (units 1 to 3) at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to automatically shut down as designed and also resulted in the loss of off-site power. Units 4 to 6 were already shut down for maintenance outages, with unit 4 having been defueled in November 2010. The emergency equipment began operating with the emergency diesel generators as the power supply.

Policy actions necessary to ensure the security of supply of medical radioisotopes
On 28 April, the OECD/NEA Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy adopted a statement calling on governments and industry to work together to implement fundamental changes in the molybdenum-99 supply chain to ensure long-term reliability of supply. It formally endorsed a policy approach to restructure aspects of the market that are currently functioning unsustainably and to promote an internationally consistent approach to ensure the long-term, secure supply of medical radioisotopes. Disruptions in the global supply chain over the past two years have had significant impacts on patients who have had important diagnostic tests cancelled or delayed.

Regulatory oversight of licensee use of contractors
Contractors have long formed an integral part of the resources available to licensees, particularly in relation to the design, construction, maintenance and modification of nuclear power plants. Indeed, contractors can be regarded as part of the licensee's team, bringing specialist skills and expertise, and additional manpower to particular tasks.

Reversibility and retrievability in radioactive waste management
Reversibility and retrievability (R&R) are concepts that have been considered for many years in radioactive waste disposal. Interest in R&R in geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel disposal has been increasing steadily since the late 1970s. In 2008, the NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee, an international group of high-level experts with regulatory, industrial, R&D and policy backgrounds, concluded that: "… it is important to clarify the meaning and role of reversibility and retrievability for each country, and that provision of reversibility and retrievability must not jeopardise long-term safety."

NEA updates

Stakeholder involvement in nuclear emergency management

Public involvement in siting nuclear facilities

Current status and economics of small nuclear reactors

International structure for decommissioning costing

Statistical methods for the verification of databases

New publications

Catalogue of new NEA publications

Previous editions

Last reviewed: 23 January 2014