A new approach to assessing the safety of nuclear power plants has been put forward by France’s Institute of Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN).

Officials from IRSN unveiled the new method today at the Eurosafe Forum in Paris and explained it had been conceived during France’s investigations of its nuclear stock following the Fukushima disaster in March.

Martial Jorel, head of IRSN’s reactor safety department, said its new safety blueprint was based around a “hard core” of systems, structures and components which were crucial to containing an accident.

This list, he said, should address those features that need to be overly-robust, so that even in a disaster involving an earthquake or flood that might cripple the rest of the plant, they would continue to function to prevent a radioactive catastrophe.

IRSN’s director general Jacques Repussard explained that the new approach was need because, until Fukushima, France’s safety scenarios focused far more on potential internal incidents than on external events such as natural disasters.

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