Nuclear power plants all over the world are exposed to natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, fires and volcanoes. Development of a one-of-a-kind advanced technology system to expand the level of alerts for natural-hazard risks to nuclear facilities is the focus of a new project of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the University of Hawaiʻi’s Pacific Disaster Center (PDC). This project builds on a five-year partnership between the two organizations.
The IAEA is an independent international organization within the United Nations system that promotes the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. The new system will be built on PDC’s DisasterAWARE platform and will support the IAEA’s development of lessons learned on prevention, mitigation and management of natural hazards at nuclear sites.
“Natural hazard risk remains a major challenge for governing authorities globally, and being able to quickly assess the level and related potential risks to nuclear facilities when they strike is crucial to support our member states in protecting people and the environment,” said Paolo Contri, head of the IAEA Section on External Event Safety. “The most updated practices in nuclear operating countries should be collected, assessed and disseminated in order to better understand the risk and improve plant safety.”
Following a lengthy period of competitive contract solicitations and conceptual designs, PDC and its development partner Tenefit were selected by the IAEA to implement the project. The three organizations are building a new capability for IAEA called the External Events Notification System to help continuously assess the level of natural hazard risk posed to nuclear facilities.
“We are honored to have been selected to play such a pivotal role in IAEA’s mission to globally address the safety of nuclear reactors,” said PDC Deputy Executive Director Chris Chiesa. “We understand the vast importance of this work, especially as we observe climate change phenomena and increased frequency and severity of natural hazards, especially storms, floods and wildfires happening around the world.”
Contri added, “This innovative solution will help IAEA enhance its member states’ understanding of external risks and help nuclear operators harden resilience against future catastrophes.”
For more than 20 years, PDC has supported government customers and nonprofits worldwide, to save lives and reduce disaster risk. As a UH applied research center, PDC is continuously developing new technologies and best practices to help its global partners effectively mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
“Like millions around the world, we at the University of Hawaiʻi were deeply impacted by the events at Fukushima on March 11, 2011,” said UH President David Lassner. “The Hawaiʻi team working with IAEA lives and operates within the Pacific, so we feel closely connected to those events and are eager to watch the PDC-Tenefit team make progress in addressing these global challenges. It is just one of the PDC’s many globally recognized initiatives in disaster resilience that are helping to create a safer world.”