21 OCTOBER - PUBLIC SESSIONS - TOPIC 9

Day 13 review:

Nuclear reactor safety and regulation was the theme today, as the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission moved to Topic 9.

Witnesses from Australia and the USA provided evidence on developments in reactor safety features and advancement in regulations and designs.

The day’s first witness was Dr Gordon Edwards, from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. Dr Edwards has devoted over 40 years to research into nuclear activities in Canada and throughout this period has provided consultant services to government and non-government bodies in relation to nuclear safety issues. His evidence addressed:

  • Introduction to the potential hazards of nuclear reactors
  • The evolution of CANDU reactor safety features over time
  • The optimal role of the regulator in ensuring safety of reactor operations.

Professor Per Peterson, from the Nuclear Engineering Faculty of Berkeley University, California, then provided evidence on regulation and licensing of nuclear reactors, and in particular, the operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. He was questioned on:

  • Philosophy and principles underpinning nuclear reactor safety
  • How modern nuclear reactor designs have evolved to meet those principles
  • Regulation of reactor safety – key features of a robust regulatory regime

The afternoon session involved witnesses from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). Head of Nuclear Services and Chief Nuclear Officer at ANSTO Hefin Griffiths and Mark Summerfield, Leader, Technical Support, Nuclear Operations, addressed:

  • Developments in reactor safety features and safety culture following major accidents
  • Key principles underpinning nuclear reactor safety
  • Deterministic and probabilistic safety assessments
  • Emergency planning and response.

The day’s final witness was Peter Wilkinson, General Manager – Risk for Noetic, a firm providing professional advisory services across a range of industry sectors including national security and defence, infrastructure, mining, oil and gas. He was in the design of the Australian regulator for offshore petroleum and has provided many years of consultancy to government and industry in operational risk and safety management in hazardous industries. He covered:

  • Key components of a robust safety culture in hazardous industries
  • Effective means of managing low probability, high consequence risk
  • Essential characteristics of regulators of hazardous industries.

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

Tomorrow’s Public Session will focus on Topic 10 – Nuclear Accident: Fukushima Daiichi. Click here for topic and witness lists.