Marvin S. Fertel
President and Chief Executive Officer
Nuclear Energy Institute
Nuclear Industry Summit
Seoul, South Korea
March 23, 2012
Distinguished Colleagues, Chairman Kim, thank you for organizing and hosting this Nuclear Industry Summit here in your beautiful city of Seoul.
I would also like to thank Dr. Lee for his leadership in organizing the working group activities and in facilitating the preparation of the statement that we will issue from this Nuclear Industry Summit. And of course, all of us should offer our thanks to the members of the working groups and their chairs you will hear from in just a few minutes for the good and hard work they have done.
The preceding speakers have provided you with a solid foundation on the importance of nuclear security and on the special responsibility and strong commitment our global industry must have to ensure that neither nuclear materials or sensitive information can get into the hands of people or groups that would use the material or information for weapons production, terrorist activities or for other nefarious reasons – and that our facilities are both safe and secure.
NEI was honored to host the industry conference in April 2010 just prior to the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Obama in Washington, D.C. At our meeting, we focused on the issues associated with the control of highly enriched uranium (HEU), plutonium and other nuclear materials and technologies that could be used for the production of weapons and dirty bombs.
We identified the important areas of focus and collaboration with governments. For instance, conversion from highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium fuels for research or isotope production reactors. You will hear about both the progress being made in this area and the actions being considered when Working Group 1 reports to you in a few minutes.
We discussed the importance of the control of sensitive information, particularly as it relates to enrichment technology – including advances in centrifuge as well as laser technology. Working Group 2 will update you on the progress and actions in this area.
We also discussed the essential role that secure transportation plays and how important collaboration between governments and the private sector is in this critical area.
In November 2010, there was another government and industry meeting in Buenos Aires that focused on the role of the private sector in securing nuclear materials. At this meeting, we issued a communiqué that explicitly called out the important role that industry plays in all aspects of nuclear security. It also expressed the commitment of the states involved in the summit to work with industry to “ensure the necessary priority of physical protection, material accountability and security culture.”
The communiqué emphasized the role that industry plays in the implementation of nuclear security activities. It also stressed the importance of implementing best practices and called out the essential role that the World Institute for Nuclear Security plays in sharing best practices. Finally, it recognized the need for continuing dialogue among industry, governments and international organizations.
Here in Seoul, you will hear from the working groups on both the progress that has been made in our activities to strengthen nuclear security globally and the specific commitments we intend to make as a result of the summit. You will hear from the working groups more specifics than we were able to offer either in April 2010 or in Argentina in November 2010.
One area added to this Nuclear Industry Summit was to explicitly address the nexus between security and safety after Fukushima, and you heard from Laurent Stricker on this subject a few minutes ago. Clearly, our entire community is dedicated to taking the lessons learned from Fukushima and making our facilities safer worldwide.
I must note that at the Nuclear Security Summit starting on Monday, the nexus of safety-security at commercial nuclear power plants is no part of the agenda. The focus will be on security of materials that could be used for weapons or terrorism. But today, you will from hear from Working Group 3 that in all of our endeavors, we must recognize the importance of approaching safety and security in an integrated way at all of our facilities and in all of our activities.
I will share with you in the context of looking to enhance safety in the U.S., that the most important actions we are taking to achieve the maximum safety benefit in the shortest period of time are based on the lessons learned we got out of the tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
In looking to meet new requirements issued by the NRC intended to protect public health and safety in the event terrorists used an aircraft as a weapon against our plants, we decided we could not control or know where the plane would hit the plant or what equipment would survive.
So, the strategy devised by the industry and accepted by the regulator relied on portable equipment, coupled with procedures and training, that would allow us to get water to the reactor vessel and the used fuel storage pools in the event our normal and backup safety systems were unable to perform their functions.
After Fukushima, we believe the same strategy allows us to address not just terrorist events but any natural event that occurs at the plant – including those that exceed the design basis for the plants. This will be enhanced by having enough equipment on site for multiple reactors as well as having additional equipment off site that could provide indefinite cooling to the vessel and pools.
We call this concept FLEX because it uses portable equipment, is based on diversity, and the need to be flexible in our response to extreme events. Important lessons learned from 9/11 also are helping us to address lessons learned from Fukushima.
Although the focus of the Nuclear Security Summit starting Monday is on the control of materials and technology from a weapons, or terrorism, perspective, all of us as industry representatives will benefit in the industry summit today from the Working Group 3 discussion of the nexus between security and safety.
I know we will hear a very informative dialogue today. I also know that we all consider our responsibility for both safety and security our top priority, and I look forward to successfully implementing the activities you will hear about during the remainder of the summit. We must work collectively and cooperatively with our governments to make the worldwide nuclear energy enterprise safer and more secure.