Plant Operation

Coronavirus / No Enforced Shutdowns During Pandemic, Says IAEA

By David Dalton
12 June 2020

No Enforced Shutdowns During Pandemic, Says IAEA
Operators have introduced measures including social distancing at nuclear plants. Photo courtesy Rosenergoatom.
The nuclear industry has been taking special measures to cope with the global coronavirus pandemic and no country has reported the enforced shutdown of a nuclear power reactor due to the effects of Covid-19 on the workforce or supply chains, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

The agency said it based its assessment on reports from operators and regulators received through the IAEA’s Covid-19 Operational Experience Network (OPEX) and International Reporting System for Operating Experience (IRS).

Operators and regulators continue to ensure safety and security at plants worldwide even as the pandemic has impacted them in various ways, including their planned outages and maintenance schedule, said Dohee Hahn, director of the IAEA’s division of nuclear power.

“The input we are receiving provides us with important insight into the pandemic’s impact on the nuclear industry and will help operators and regulators alike to learn from each other’s experiences,” Mr Hahn said.

While operators have taken measures to reduce the risk of infection among employees and maintain day-to-day operations, lower electricity demand caused by restrictions on economic activity has led some plants to reduce power output. Adjustments to activities such as scheduled maintenance outages have also had to be made.

Scheduled maintenance outages of power plants are in some cases being shortened or postponed with regulatory approval by deferring non-critical work, commensurate with the availability of staff while observing distancing practices. “Plant operators are responding to an evolving and unprecedented situation by showing a high level of preparedness, flexibility and resilience,” Mr Hahn said.

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