Learning from experience

‘Operating experience management’ is a well-known term in the nuclear sector, where information about experiences and events is shared with all operators worldwide.

The World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), established after the Chernobyl disaster, collects and distributes all relevant information about events in nuclear power plants. The aim is to ensure that all power stations in the world learn from each other’s experiences.

A fine example is that of the stress tests that took place after the nuclear accident of Fukushima. In 2011, the Japanese coast was hit by a heavy earthquake. The ensuing tsunami caused great damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. To prevent similar accidents from happening in Europe, the European Commission issued a directive that all nuclear power plants were to be submitted to stress tests. In Belgium, the stress tests were carried out under the supervision of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control.

The stress tests examined to what extent installations are resistant to external threats, such as earthquakes, flooding or tornadoes. In addition, further analyses were performed to assess the nuclear power plants’ protection against man-made events, such as toxic and explosive gas clouds or an aircraft crash.

As a result of the stress tests, additional flood guards were installed and supplementary mobile diesel generators and fire-fighting trucks for kerosene fires were purchased.