News / Middle East

Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Plant to Open With International Oversight

Workers work in a part of the electricity generating plant of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, 26 Oct 2010 (file photo)
Workers work in a part of the electricity generating plant of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, 26 Oct 2010 (file photo)

Multimedia

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant has been completed. Russia, which supplied the reactor, is now training Iranians to operate the facility. And the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of which Iran is a member, says it is committed to imparting a "culture of nuclear safety" for all member nuclear power operators.  As last month's nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima power plant shows, such safety considerations can become a life-or-death matter.

Workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, north of Tokyo, on the Pacific Ocean coast, have struggled to prevent the spread of radiation following damage incurred by last month's massive earthquake.  Their efforts reflect the extensive emergency training they - and other nuclear power workers worldwide - are given. That includes the personnel at Iran's new Bushehr nuclear power plant.

The nuclear power industry will never forget what happened 25 years ago at the Chernobyl facility in Ukraine.  There, an experiment with the cooling system - one not provided for in the training regimen - led to a reactor explosion and what became the world's worst nuclear power disaster.

Especially after Chernobyl, the global nuclear power industry has focused on what it calls a "culture of nuclear safety."  At The Nuclear Energy Institute, a U.S. trade group, Tony Pietrangelo explains the concept.

"The safety culture exists on a continuum," said Pietrangelo.  "You can always work to improve it.  It is a questioning attitude. It is professionalism. And again, it is that profound respect for the technology you are dealing with."

One pillar of that safety culture is thorough training for those who will operate nuclear power plants.  Russia's state nuclear power entity, ROSATOM, which completed the Bushehr plant after years of delays, is now training the Iranian staff to run it.  At the U.S. Broookhaven National Laboratory, senior scientist Upendra Rohatgi describes the training regimen.

"They are providing operator training in terms of classroom [instruction]," noted Rohatgi.  "Then also, they have full-scope [covering all situations] simulators, which are the same as western [in terms of] standards, and then, in-plant training."

Like the aircraft simulators that pilots train on, nuclear power operators can learn how to cope with problems and sudden emergencies without making real-life mistakes that could cause fatalities and devastate the environment.

ROSATOM will remain on-site for the immediate future, as it has done with other client nations such as China and India.  And the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of which Iran is a member state, will oversee the plant's operation.

The IAEA sends teams of inspectors to nuclear power plants to ensure that best practices are being followed.

"They look at the training programs, how the operators are trained to cope with accidents on simulators, and so on.  And, we also look at the qualifications of people to perform maintenance.  And also, the preparation of the plant for possible emergencies," noted former IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety Director Philippe Jamet.

Iran's Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly said that as an IAEA member, it will follow that U.N. agency's operational and safety protocols at the Bushehr plant.

But what the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant makes clear is that the severity of natural events, such as a massive earthquake, can overwhelm even the highest levels of training and attention to safety.

This is part three of a three-part series.  Click here for part 1 and here part 2.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs