2. Are Nuclear Plants Safe?


Nuclear industry developed and improved technologies of reactors during seven decades throughout the following main generations:Gen I reactors, which started for testing and demonstration, it was commercially developed in the 1950s, 1960s.Gen II reactors, most of them are currently operating.Gen III and Gen III+ reactors, which were developed 1990s and most of them include nuclear reactor under construction and recently completedGen IV reactors that offer new alternative fuel and coolants but are not expected to be commercially available before 2030-2040.Some of nuclear technology vendors are also developing Small and Medium Reactors (SMRs) aiming to improve economic and flexibility of nuclear energy use with expanding access chances to new segments of energy market. Such reactors attract countries where large capacity plants are unsuitable due to electrical grid limitation or site characteristics (cooling water availability) in addition to simple design which reduces manufacturing cost and use of prefabricated technology instead of on-site construction. Thus SMRs are expected to solve the biggest obstacle facing large nuclear plants which is the long constructing period and the high capital cost.
Despite its long history in safe operation since 1954, skeptics of nuclear energy focus on fears of horrible effects and consequences of bombs dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki during world war II. in addition to the wrong belief that nuclear energy has not been matured and fears of repetition of accidents as Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl 1986 and lately Fukushima 2011.International efforts are concerted to address nuclear and radiological accidents. The IAEA plays significant role in coordination of these efforts by promoting adherence to and implementation of international legal instruments on nuclear safety adopted under its auspices. This includes the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, as well as the two conventions that are the basis for the international emergency preparedness and response framework: The Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency.Generally speaking, all nuclear accidents are subject to deep analyzes and studies by the international community which result in continuous upgrading and development of nuclear safety standards, which increases confidence in the safety of nuclear facilities.
Opponents of nuclear energy claimed that but actually it is not true as nuclear safety is applied in many in stages including site selection, design, construction, and operation. This is accompanied with right management and operation of the nuclear plant to achieve a high level of safety. All these stages are subjected to strict regulatory standards and also the highest standards of quality, and demonstrations provided by the license applicant to the competent authorities.The history of nuclear plants operating, exceeds half a century, confirmed that, as any industry, may be exposed to malfunctions or accidents but it remains the safest technology that is not comparable with any other industry or energy resource ; for example accident victims in power plants in the OECD countries during the past 50 years were 2259 in coal plants ,1043 in natural gas plants 14 in water plants and zero in nuclear plants as for other countries of the world victims were 18000 in coal plants 1000 in natural gas plants 30000 in water plants and 31 in nuclear plants (Chernobyl).
Our bodies are daily exposed to radiation from natural resources as cosmic rays, soil, food, water and air and also from artificial resources as radiotherapy, travelling by planes, watching TV, neon light and finally nuclear plants. Fake scientists claim that radiation is harmful at any level and even low radiation exposure effects on human health and causes cancer and birth defect. For example the absorbed annual radiation dose by a resident next to the borders of an operating nuclear plant doesn’t exceed half of radiation dose absorbed due to one – time examination of his teeth and the maximum annual dose received from working nuclear plant is 5 mrem (unit of measuring  radiation effect) which is 2% less than the total annual dose that individual's exposed annually from natural and artificial resources and thus that claim is only to spread panic among people by fabricating baseless scenarios.It should be known that all activates resulting from using ionizing radiation are subjected to strict regulatory standards aimed at protecting individuals and environment from harmful effects of radiation.
Opponents of nuclear energy claim that final disposal of highly radioactive nuclear wastes has no practical solutions. In fact, it is a common challenge to the nuclear industry worldwide, but it can be solved.Operation of nuclear plants causes emission of solid, liquid and gaseous radioactive wastes with levels of radioactivity ranging from low, medium and high. Nuclear plants are equipped with systems to deal with wastes according to its nature and quality. All stages of handling, transporting and storing radioactive waste are carried out according to strict standards and procedures regulated by international and local standards and regulations basically aim to protect humans, property and the environment from any radioactive release.Spent fuel are considered high radioactive wastes in some countries. The common practice that it is stored in water pools inside the plant for 4-5 years until its level of radioactivity and temperature drops to a level that can be transported and stored in other facilities equipped with the necessary arrangements for radiation protection and fuel cooling for longer periods that may reach decades.There are 2 types of radioactive waste storage for these facilities;First type (wet storage) in which spent fuel is kept under the water surface in pools equipped with cooling and water purification circuitsSecond type is used in El Dabaa (dry storage) in which spent fuel is kept in special containers/casks and to be cooled by air "same containers used in spent nuclear fuel transporting".As for Arab Republic of Egypt; the Supreme Council of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy headed by His Excellency president Abd El Fattah El Sisi in July 2017 approved the Egyptian Strategy for the management of radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel and decommissioning of nuclear plants. All the competent nuclear authorities and relevant bodies set that strategy which aim to provide the suitable solutions to handle the radioactive wastes and to keep human and environment safe and not to bear future generations additional burdens taking into account the economic aspects and modern scientific trends.The contract with Russian Party included fuel constructing special dry storage facility for dry storage of spent nuclear fuel for a period of 100 years so if in the future a new technology may enable us to use it, and then it is disposed in the correct way followed in all counties of the world. In addition, the EPC contract included establishing units for treatment of gaseous, solid and liquid radioactive waste
- The technology applied for El-Dabaa NPP belongs to the advanced third generation (Gen-3+) reactor technology, which is the most advanced technology to date that is characterized with the highest safety levels with a core meltdown probability less than one in 10 million reactor-years. It follows the "defense in depth" philosophy, which is based on the use of multiple physical barriers to prevent leaks of radioactive materials into the environment, as well as on employing passive safety systems that do not need power source to be actuated.
The technology utilized in El-Dabaa nuclear power plant belongs to the advanced third generation reactors, which is the best now. It is characterized by the highest nuclear safety levels, and applies defense-in- depth philosophy, which is based on the existence of many physical barriers to prevent release of radioactive materials to the environment, as well as passive safety systems, which do not need power source to be actuated. The reactor could withstand commercial aircrafts crash weighing up to 400 tons (that is Boeing-747), 14-meter high tsunami waves, earthquakes up to PGA of 0.3 g and tornadoes. The Russian design reactor is characterized with the provision of a core catcher that will absorb and contain inside all melted core and thus prevent leakage of highly radioactive materials to the environment in case of severe accidents with core melting. All these safety measures relieve the fears of radioactive leakage or occurrence of nuclear accidents as the one in Chernobyl.