Nuclear Reactor Safety

  • Nuclear Plant Risk Studies: Failing the Grade. David Lochbaum, The Union of Concerned Scientists, 2000. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) examined how nuclear plant risk assessments are performed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and how their results are used. They concluded that the risk assessments are seriously flawed and their results are being used inappropriately to increase — not reduce — the threat to the American public.
  • U.S. Nuclear Plants in the 21st Century: The Risk of a Lifetime. David Lochbaum, The Union of Concerned Scientists, 2004. The risks for catastrophe change as nuclear reactors age, much like the risks for death by accident and illness change as people get older. Protection schemes must evolve to remain correlated with age if the threat level is to be minimized. For nuclear reactors, it means aggressively monitoring risk during the three stages of plant lifetime: the break-in phase, middle life phase, and wear-out phase. The risk profile for these three phases of life curves like a bathtub. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) identified the best ways to manage the risks from nuclear power at all points along the bathtub curve.
  • Position Paper: Commercial Nuclear Power. Thomas B. Cochran et al., National Resources Defense Council, October 2005. The NDRC argues that, in order for nuclear power to become a major means of reducing carbon emissions, the nuclear industry must remedy the occupational and public health risks associated with the nuclear fuel cycle and ensure the safe disposal and storage of spent nuclear fuel.
  • Fundamental Safety Principles. The International Atomic Energy Agency, Safety Standards Series No. SF-1, 15 November 2006. This publication states the fundamental safety objective and ten associated safety principles, and briefly describes their intent and purpose. The safety principles are applicable, as relevant, throughout the entire lifetime of all facilities and activities, existing and new, utilized for peaceful purposes, and to protective actions to reduce existing radiation risks.
  • Residual Risks: An Account of Events in Nuclear Power Plants Since the Chernobyl Accident in 1986. Georgui Kastchiev et al., The Greens/European Free Alliance, May 2007. This report details all reported nuclear power plant incidents over the last twenty years and questions whether a core meltdown can be ruled out in the future.
  • Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors. World Nuclear Association, June 2008. This article notes that there have been two major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power – Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. “These are the only major accidents to have occurred in more than 12,700 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries. The risks from western nuclear power plants, in terms of the consequences of an accident or terrorist attack, are minimal compared with other commonly accepted risks.”