28 August 2013

Nuclear safety makes encouraging progress

Nuclear cooling tower

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says "considerable progress" has been made globally in the past year to strengthen reactor safety, despite the ongoing problems at Fukushima.

The IAEA has said that nearly all countries with nuclear plants had carried out safety "stress tests" to assess their ability to withstand so-called extreme events.

Since the Fukushima accident in 2011, several countries in Europe, including Germany, Switzerland and Belgium have decided to move away from nuclear to increase their reliance on renewable energy.

However, the global use of nuclear energy is still forecast to increase by as much as 100 percent by 2030 as a result of growth in Asia, including in China and India.

This latest news comes as the UK prepares for its Sustainable Nuclear Energy Conference next April in Manchester. The event will provide an opportunity to debate key issues including new nuclear build, fuel manufacture, storage and decommissioning.

Keynote speakers will include Professor Dame Sue Ion, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering; Hergen Haye, head of nuclear new build, Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC); Dr Robert Mitchell, chief of materials, nuclear services, Rolls Royce PLC; Professor Francis Livens, professor of radiochemistry and research director, Dalton Nuclear Institute, The University of Manchester; Professor Graham Fairhall, chief science and technology officer, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL); and Dr Neil Smart, science director, Radioactive Waste Management Directorate, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

David Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, which is organising the conference, said: “Despite the spectre of Fukushima, which is likely to dominate debate around the nuclear industry for the foreseeable future, the sector faces many other challenges and considerable opportunities.

“Meeting growth in global energy demand presents a crucial challenge in the decades ahead. Like many countries the UK is at a crossroads in how to meet its energy demands. There is no universal solution but a safe and successful nuclear sector has the potential to make a significant contribution.

“Chemical engineers are helping to lead the debate and our Sustainable Nuclear Energy Conference will make an important contribution to the UK’s energy policy”.

The Sustainable Nuclear Energy Conference is being held on 9-11 April 2014 in Manchester, UK. Abstracts are being accepted for the conference until 16 September 2013. For more information, including sponsorship and exhibition opportunities visit: www.icheme.org/snec

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