Upon failure of a fuel cladding at a nuclear power plant, the radioactivity of the primary reactor coolant increases, but as long as it remains within the normal range of operation, as stipulated in the technical specifications, the reactor can continue to operate safely.
IAEA Explainer: Fuel Cladding Failure at Taishan Nuclear Power Plant
New Delhi (ABC Live India); The International Atomic Energy
Agency has swiftly taken the cognizance of China’s
report on radiation leak at its Taishan Nuclear Power Plant due to Fuel Cladding
Failure and released an explainer on fuel cladding failures.
On Thursday, the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security
released an explainer on fuel cladding failures which says as under;
The China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) informed the IAEA
yesterday that a minor fuel cladding failure had occurred at
the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant. What are fuel cladding failures, and what do
they mean for safety? Read our explainer to find out.
Nuclear power plants are designed with multiple back-ups and
diverse safety systems as part of an approach to safety, called
“defence-in-depth”. This means there are multiple, redundant safety systems
designed to prevent any accidental radioactive release. In addition, there are
multiple barriers, including the primary reactor coolant system or primary
circuit and a single or double containment building, which are designed to
prevent any radioactive release to the environment.
Therefore, an increase in the level of radioactivity in a
primary reactor coolant is different from a radioactive leak. The primary
circuit is inside the containment and there are several further barriers to
prevent releases of radioactivity to the environment.
The number of fuel rods in a reactor varies depending on the
reactor’s design. Some reactors could contain up to 60,000 fuel rods.
of a fuel cladding at a nuclear power plant, the radioactivity of the primary reactor coolant increases, but
as long as it remains within the normal range of operation, as stipulated in
the technical specifications, the reactor can continue to operate safely.
Fuel cladding failures are a known and not uncommon occurrence
within the operation of nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants have
operating procedures which allow the ongoing monitoring of the damaged fuel
elements and operations can continue within the pre-defined safe operating
There are operating strategies available to minimise the impact
of a fuel failure and ultimately, if necessary, the reactor could be safely
shutdown before the technical specification limits was to be reached. The
damaged fuel elements would then be inspected and replaced, and the reactor
returned to operations.