The Difference Between Nuclear Safety and Security

Nuclear safety and security are two distinct concepts that are often confused. Nuclear safety is the prevention of accidents, while nuclear security is the prevention of intentional acts that could damage a nuclear power plant or result in the theft of nuclear materials. Nuclear safety is regulated by specialized institutions in many countries, while nuclear security is generally handled by agencies other than those overseeing civil security. The nuclear safety culture is focused on preventing unintentional hazards, while the culture of nuclear security is focused on preventing intentional hazards.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Safety Fund (NSF) is a prominent initiative that works to ensure the safe use of nuclear energy. India is an important partner in this initiative. The Federation of American Scientists has said that for the use of nuclear energy to expand significantly, nuclear facilities must be extremely safe from attacks that could release massive amounts of radioactivity into the community. This includes nuclear power plants, transportation of nuclear materials, and the use and storage of nuclear materials for medical, energy, industrial and military uses.

The United States government enacted provisions to protect the nuclear industry from bearing the full burden of inherently risky nuclear operations. Sections 3 (c) and (e) of the Atomic Energy Act 1954, as revised, and Section 204 (b) (of the Energy Reorganization Act 1974) give the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) the responsibility to ensure that peaceful uses of nuclear energy contribute to the utmost to common defense and security and national welfare. It is essential for everyone involved to understand the importance of a culture of nuclear safety and security, and the benefits of harmonizing the two. Incidents such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster could have been prevented with stricter regulations on nuclear energy.

The failure of multiple safety features in nuclear power plants has raised questions about the nation's engineering prowess.