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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid