International Society of Automation News Release
Contact: Jennifer Infantino
ISA publishes new book that points to the urgent need for automated safety systems to prevent nuclear power plant disasters
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA (5 December 2013) -The International Society of Automation (ISA) announces that it has published a new book that declares that another Chernobyl- or Fukushima-like catastrophe is inevitable unless nuclear power plants across the world adopt fully automated safety systems.
Automation Can Prevent the Next Fukushima (click here for cover image) by Béla G. Lipták, P.E., a well-known automation, optimization and safety control consultant with more than 50 years in safety control system design experience, explains that while the automation technology exists to prevent the vast majority of nuclear reactor disasters, the world's nuclear energy facilities continue to rely on human operators to monitor plant conditions and manually take corrective safety measures when needed.
"It's not a question of if, but only of when the next major nuclear power plant disaster will occur," insists Lipták who, as president of Lipták Associates, advises energy firms and other companies on critical safety, pollution and environmental issues. "The seriousness of this ominous forecast could be much reduced if the nuclear power industry fully embraced automation safety. The safety controls of the 438 nuclear power plants that operate around the world today are outdated. Their designs are based primarily on manual operation. These plants need to be updated with safety systems that are fully automated."
The possible consequences of severe nuclear reactor failures-explosions and the release of radioactive gases and materials into the environment-are so dire that fully automated systems are a must, Lipták emphasizes.
"In these plants, serious safety responses must be immediate and fully automatic," he says. "Automatic safety systems are like air bags in cars. Their actuation must not be left up to human judgment. They must instantly detect the evolving dangers and must immediately respond to inhibit or mitigate adverse consequences."
Lipták claims that automated safety systems would have prevented the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. He notes that even less sweeping improvements-such as redundant or self-diagnosing sensors and control panels with graphic displays-might have averted these incidents.
In his book, Lipták recommends that operating licenses or license extensions for nuclear power plants be approved only if the facilities meet the following design and automation requirements:
- The plant should be able to automatically shut down the reactors even when internal and external electric power supplies fail and regardless of the actions of either plant management or operators.
- The energy needed to automatically cool and safely shut down the reactors should be made available in an uninterruptible form, using either gravity, or the always-available energy of decay steam.
- All primary containments should be inerted with nitrogen and both the primary and secondary containments should be protected against explosions by detecting both the presence of hydrogen or that of high pressure steam and by automatically triggering filtered venting, if either rises beyond safe limits.
- The design should ensure that automatic shutdown systems cannot be turned off by anybody or anything, including cyber-terrorist attacks.
"Furthermore," he adds, "standards, both national and international, need to be established that describe the designs of the automated safety requirements in the same detail as my book does and require a policy of openness so that the public is informed if a plant-for economic or other reasons-doesn't meet these standards."
For more information or to purchase a copy of this valuable resource, visitwww.isa.org/PR13/Books/Fukushima.
More about the author
From 1975 to the present, Lipták has served as president of Lipták Associates P.C., where he works as an automation, optimization and safety control consultant for both traditional and the newly emerging industries in the areas of safety, pollution prevention and energy conservation.
Over the years, his clients have included Air Products & Chemicals, Argonne National Lab., Ashland Chemical, BASF, Brandt Ind., Chevron, Cyanamid, DOE, Dow, EPA, ERDA, Exxon, Friendlies, General Foods, Hooker Chem., HP, IBM, Innotech, Israel Chem., Lancy Lab., Merck & Co., MIT, Monsanto, Oak Ridge Nat. Lab., Occidental Petroleum, Office of Coal Research, Olin Chem., PCI, Procter & Gamble, Promon of Brazil, Raytheon, Reilly, O.M. Scott, SETEC of Argentina, Stauffer, Technicon, Thermo Electron, Univ. of Tenn., UNIDO, and Westinghouse corporations.
Lipták has published more than 200 technical articles (www.controlglobal.com/voices/liptak.html) and some 22 technical books, including four editions of the multi-volume Instrument Engineers' Handbook.
Founded in 1945, the International Society of Automation (www.isa.org) is a leading, global, nonprofit organization that is setting the standard for automation by helping over 30,000 worldwide members and other professionals solve difficult technical problems, while enhancing their leadership and personal career capabilities. Based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, ISA develops standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; and hosts conferences and exhibitions for automation professionals. ISA is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (www.automationfederation.org).