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Previous File Improving the Safety of Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power PlantsNext File

Project Organization

U.S. efforts to reduce risks at Soviet-designed nuclear power plants are organized into six areas, referred to as work elements. Because the efforts in each country vary according to need, the projects listed under each work element are not implemented in every country. U.S. work is designed to complement the safety upgrade projects of the host countries, other Western countries, Japan, and international organizations.


Increasing the Safety of Day-to-Day Operations

Management and Operational Safety Projects

Management and operational safety projects increase the ability of plant personnel to operate reactors safely. U.S. experts work with host-country personnel to

  • establish procedures and standards for safe operations

  • establish configuration management systems

  • establish host-country centers for training plant personnel

  • develop computerized simulators for training control room operators

  • improve the plants' quality assurance programs

  • transfer up-to-date technology and training for plant maintenance and nondestructive examination of plant components.


Upgrading Safety Systems

Engineering and Technology Projects

Engineering and technology projects reduce risks by upgrading the physical safety systems of nuclear power plants. U.S. experts work with host-country personnel to

  • transfer tools and equipment for effective fire protection and improved radiation confinement

  • undertake fire hazards analyses

  • transfer to host countries the ability to manufacture safety equipment that meets international practices

  • install backup power systems to ensure that plants will have the electricity to shut down in an emergency

  • transfer mobile pumping units for emergency water supplies

  • improve the reliability of circuit breakers and motor-operated isolation valves

  • improve the reliability of electronic control-and-protection systems

  • develop safety parameter display systems to give control room operators information on key safety functions for preventing accidents and responding to abnormal conditions.


Conducting Safety Assessments

Plant Safety Assessment Projects

Plant safety assessment projects improve the abilities of designers, operators, and regulators to identify risks and set priorities for safety upgrades. The United States is

  • training host-country personnel to conduct risk assessments of events that could lead to an accident and to determine safety margins by examining a plant's design and configuration

  • providing technical support for plant-specific safety assessments

  • transferring computer analysis codes to support the assessments

  • working with host-country specialists to develop a performance reliability database for Soviet-designed reactors.


Working Safely with Nuclear Fuel

Fuel Cycle Safety Projects

Fuel cycle safety projects improve the handling, moving, and storing of reactor fuel and the operation of fuel-cycle facilities. The United States is involved in three efforts: transferring equipment and training to establish a dry-cask storage system for spent fuel at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya plant, working with Ukraine to develop an in-country system for managing spent fuel, and transferring a computer code for safety analysis for use at a Hungarian dry-storage system.


Developing Regulatory Frameworks

Nuclear Safety Regulatory and Institutional Framework Projects

U.S. experts are working with Ukrainian and Russian regulatory authorities to develop a strong legal framework for regulating Soviet-designed nuclear power plants. The objective is to promote

  • strong, independent regulatory bodies with the capabilities to regulate nuclear activities

  • host-country adherence to international nuclear safety treaties and liability conventions

  • protection for U.S. contractors from undue liability in foreign and U.S. courts if a malfunction or accident occurs at a Soviet-designed nuclear facility where the U.S. contractor has provided services.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the primary U.S. responsibility for this area of work. The U.S. Department of Energy provides support by transferring training and technology to regulatory organizations that oversee cooperative safety projects, transferring guidelines for developing procedures and validating computer analysis codes, and implementing agreements with Ukraine and Russia on regulating fuel-cycle facilities.


Addressing Risks at Chornobyl

Chornobyl Initiatives

The United States is reducing risks at Ukraine's Chornobyl plant through four major efforts.

  • U.S. experts are working with Ukrainian specialists to develop technical strategies for decommissioning the Chornobyl plant.

  • The United States and Ukraine jointly established the Chornobyl Center for Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste and Radioecology in 1996 to support safe operations at Chornobyl and other Ukrainian nuclear power plants, to address human safety and environmental issues created by the 1986 disaster at Chornobyl, and to alleviate socioeconomic problems related to the plant's future decommissioning. The Chornobyl Center's primary technical branch, the Slavutych Laboratory for International Research and Technology, is collaborating with the United States and other countries on joint technical projects for nuclear safety.

  • The United States is providing equipment and training for improved fire protection, operational safety, and maintenance at Chornobyl's operational Unit 3 reactor.

  • U.S. experts are participating in an international effort to prevent collapse of the shelter around Chornobyl's destroyed Unit 4 reactor, suppress the radioactive dust inside the shelter, protect shelter workers from radioactive and industrial hazards, and address other urgent safety concerns.

    This online publication is an abbreviated version of the report. To obtain a copy of the complete report, please contact

    Nancy Jackson
    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
    P.O. Box 999, K7-74
    Richland, Washington 99352
    Phone: (509) 372-4679
    Fax: (509) 372-4411

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