Who Protects Nuclear Power Plants? A Comprehensive Look at Nuclear Safety

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the agency responsible for regulating both safety and security in nuclear power plants. The NRC ensures that nuclear power plants maintain the highest safety standards of any U. S. industry, and that the industry exceeds those standards.

To ensure safety, the NRC has a routine inspection program, as well as assessments where a specially trained simulated adversary attacks the plant. The NRC also has at least two resident inspectors at each site. Strict controls are in place for anyone entering the protected area, which is the middle of three concentric security perimeters. Everyone, whether employees, contractors or visitors, must go through metal and explosive detectors and all items they carry on hand are examined with X-rays.

Security officers look for firearms, explosives, incendiary devices, and any other material that can be used for industrial or radiological sabotage. For employees of a nuclear power plant, going through safety is part of every working day. Safety measures are especially strict for the vital area, which contains the reactor and associated security systems, the control room, the spent fuel pool and the main security alarm stations. Access to the living area is protected by card readers, security doors, and sometimes staffed guard stations.

The time from the start of construction of a commercial nuclear power plant to the safe disposal of its last radioactive waste can be 100 to 150 years. Katsuhiko Ishibashi, professor of seismology at Kobe University, has said that Japan's history of nuclear accidents is due to overconfidence in plant engineering. The most important barrier to the release of radioactivity in the event of an aircraft attack on a nuclear power plant is the containment building and its missile shield. EDF's Blayais nuclear power plant in western France uses seawater for cooling and the plant itself is protected from storm surges by dams. Japan has been accused by authors such as journalist Yoichi Funabashi of having an aversion to facing the potential threat of nuclear emergencies. The NRC must review its assumptions about terrorist capabilities to ensure that nuclear plants are adequately protected against credible threats, and these assumptions need to be reviewed by U.

Nuclear engineer David Lochbaum explained that almost all serious nuclear accidents occurred with what was then the latest technology. The report was quoted in a 2004 statement from the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, but it appears that TEPCO did not take appropriate steps to address the risk. The nuclear power industry has improved reactor safety and performance, and proposed new and safer reactor designs. However, safety risks can be greater when nuclear systems are the newest and operators have less experience with them. A particular nuclear scenario was the loss of cooling, which resulted in the melting of the nuclear reactor core, and this prompted studies on the physical and chemical possibilities, as well as on the biological effects of any dispersed radioactivity.

In 2003, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) drafted mandates on improving safety in nuclear power plants. Nuclear safety is defined as the prevention, detection and response to theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer, or other malicious acts involving nuclear material, other radioactive substances, or their associated facilities. The fact that a country that has been operating nuclear power reactors for decades demonstrates such alarming improvisation in its response and so unwilling to reveal the facts even to its own people, let alone the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a reminder that nuclear safety is a constant work in progress. And yet, many people in the UK don't know that there are heavily armed police officers who monitor nuclear power plants day after day, throughout the year.