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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid