Emergency simulations at nuclear power plants
Questions and answers

Emergency simulations at nuclear power plants

Emergency simulations are performed to check the level of preparedness of a nuclear site and its responsiveness to emergencies, both onsite and on the outside, in cooperation with different emergency and response organizations.

Each nuclear power plant has an Emergency Plan that guarantees the correct operation of emergency systems as well as safety for employees and the public

Each nuclear power plant (as well as other nuclear sites such as repositories) has an Emergency Plan that guarantees the correct operation of emergency systems as well as safety for employees and the public in any given situation. This plan is divided into two parts: the Interior Emergency Plan and the Exterior Emergency Plan.

The Interior Emergency Plan contains preventive measures and permanent training programs for all employees at the plant. The operability of the plan is tested every year with these mandatory emergency simulations, supervised by the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) with the cooperation of the Council’s Emergency Response Organization (ERO).

Trabajadores en la sala de control. Central nuclear Cofrentes

What are emergency simulations?

Emergency simulations establish a hypothetic abnormal event (known as “initiating event”) that evolves in an unfavorable way and causes a series of chain events that ultimately lead to the emergency. These events can be classified according to different levels of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). The planning for the simulation scenarios should maintain enough realism in terms of temporary scales and in the quantity and type of information. The information must be similar to that which would be available on real emergency situations.

In the simulations,different types of initiating events must be applied. To help determine which events to initiate, experts analyze accidents already produced, or use reports on known accidents. The variable scenarios make it possible to test different aspects of the plans and obtain very valuable experience.

During these simulations, communications are activated and emergency groups are established

Examples

Some examples of initiating events can be:

  • Loss of external electricity supply
  • Failure of emergency generators
  • Failure of the cooling system
  • Leaks
  • Earthquakes

During these simulations, communications are activated and emergency groups are established. Thanks to them, it is possible to test the correct operation of the devices, tools and procedures that would be employed in different emergency situations, and also it helps to maintain the level of preparedness of the staff that would be involved with these emergencies. Additionally, they make it possible to test, among other things, the capacity for response of the different participating organizations, the agility of communications, the data transmission systems, the calculation methods, and the procedures for decision making and activation of resources and means.

Sources: CSN, AMAC, Foro Nuclear

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