Press release
Paris, 28 January 1997

Implementing severe nuclear accident management programmes

The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA) announced to-day the publication of a new report, Implementing Severe Accident Management in Nuclear Power Plants, that documents the work done to date in OECD countries toward the implementation of programmes for the management of severe accidents in nuclear power plants. The report describes the major decisions associated with severe accident management, the remaining issues and areas of uncertainty, as well as the status of implementation in NEA member countries.

The overall objective of severe accident management is to reduce the risks of large radioactive releases from a nuclear power plant damaged by such an accident. Severe nuclear accident management consists of those actions that are taken by the plant staff during the course of an accident to prevent damage to the reactor core, terminate progress of core damage and retain the core within the vessel, maintain integrity of the containment, and minimise off-site releases. It also involves pre-planning and preparatory measures, guidelines and procedures, equipment modifications to facilitate procedure implementation, and severe accident training.

Major progress in the implementation of severe accident management guidelines and procedures has been made in recent years in OECD countries and the report indicates the current status of the implementation of national programmes. The report notes similarities in implementation among the countries, and explains differences that exist.

There is a general consensus that such guidelines and procedures have significantly reduced the uncertainty associated with the effectiveness of currently approved severe accident management actions in dealing with most phenomena, to the point where further research in most areas is not expected to have a major effect on the main features of such actions. Nevertheless, several areas still remain where further understanding of the phenomena might provide additional confidence in particular accident management decisions and actions.

The NEA Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations and other groups are continuing their efforts to further the knowledge of severe accident phenomena, and to promote further implementation of severe accident management programmes.

Implementing Severe Accident Management in Nuclear Power Plants
OECD, Paris 1996, 155 pages
ISBN 92-64-15286-5

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