Nuclear safety lies in greater transparency

Western Research Center for Energy and Eco-Environmental Policy, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 02/2013; 494(7438):403. DOI: 10.1038/494403a
Source: PubMed


With ambitious expansion plans, China must work to create a robust and
reliable nuclear regulatory system, says Qiang Wang.

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    • "Indeed, the accidents at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in 1979 and at the Chernobyl in 1986 lead to much of the current global nuclear safety regime [1] [2]. Although it is difficult to accurately ascertain the failure of governmental regulations which lead to nuclear accidents and the reasons why the operators intend to ignore the safety regulations and/or the associated risks, lessons learned from these and other accidents improved the nuclear safety systems including but not limited to [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]: (a) New reactor designs aimed to enhance on " inherent " safety measures. (e.g., passive safety technology in AP1000 not requiring active pumps and valves to maintain safe operation). "
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    ABSTRACT: The article addresses the potential role of geosciences in development of civilian nuclear power plants (NPPs). We firstly highlight the fact that the Fukushima accident of 2011 is different from previous major nuclear accidents at the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl in that the former was triggered externally by a natural disaster, that is, a powerful tectonic earthquake followed by tsunami. Following this, we assess the situation of the NPPs to prepare the occurrence of such a tectonic activity through case study of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. Finally, some policy recommendations are proposed for a wider and innate integration of geosciences into the governance of civilian NPPs
    Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 03/2015; 43:239-243. DOI:10.1016/j.rser.2014.11.039 · 5.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Extraction of natural gas from shale rock in the United States (US) is one of the landmark events in the 21st century. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing can extract huge quantities of natural gas from impermeable shale formations, which were previously thought to be either impossible or uneconomic to produce. This review offers a comprehensive insight into US shale gas opportunities, appraising the evolution, evidence and the challenges of shale gas production in the US. The history of US shale gas in this article is divided into three periods and based on the change of oil price (i.e., the period before the 1970s oil crisis, the period from 1970s to 2000, and the period since 2000), the US has moved from being one of the world's biggest importers of gas to being self-sufficient in less than a decade, with the shale gas production increasing 12-fold (from 2000 to 2010). The US domestic natural gas price hit a 10-year low in 2012. The US domestic natural gas price in the first half of 2012 was about $2 per million British Thermal Unit (BTU), compared with Brent crude, the world benchmark price for oil, now about $ 80–100/barrel, or $14–17 per million BTU. Partly due to an increase in gas-fired power generation in response to low gas prices, US carbon emissions from fossil-fuel combustion fell by 430 million ton CO2 – more than any other country – between 2006 and 2011. Shale gas also stimulated economic growth, creating 600,000 new jobs in the US by 2010. However, the US shale gas revolution would be curbed, if the environmental risks posed by hydraulic fracturing are not managed effectively. The hydraulic fracturing is water intensive, and can cause pollution in the marine environment, with implications for long-term environmental sustainability in several ways. Also, large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, can be emitted during the shale gas exploration and production. Hydraulic fracturing also may induce earthquakes. These environmental risks need to be managed by good practices which is not being applied by all the producers in all the locations. Enforcing stronger regulations are necessary to minimize risk to the environment and on human health. Robust regulatory oversight can however increase the cost of extraction, but stringent regulations can foster an historic opportunity to provide cheaper and cleaner gas to meet the consumer demand, as well as to usher in the future growth of the industry.
    Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 02/2014; 30:1–28. DOI:10.1016/j.rser.2013.08.065 · 5.90 Impact Factor


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