The development of approaches to guaranteeing the safety of nuclear power in the Soviet Union and in
Russia and the development of safety concepts and the normative base corresponding to them, which rely
on international practice, is expounded. The main factors which make it possible to talk about guaranteeing
the safety of nuclear power at the next stage of its development are examined.
Road to the Present. The energy density of nuclear fuel is dialectically linked with concentrated danger.
Consequently, special attention was devoted from the very beginning of the utilization of atomic energy for generating power
to solving the problem of guaranteeing safety by eliminating the uncontrollable development of nuclear reactions and the
propagation of radiation.
At the first stage of nuclear power, the approaches and solutions to guaranteeing safety depended in a natural
manner on the experience gained in developing commercial reactors, starting with the first fission chain reaction which
I. V. Kurchatov achieved in the F-1 reactor.
Proceeding to the next goal – the development of nuclear energy sources, the first priority was to demonstrate the
possibility of developing such an energy source in competition with conventional sources. It was written in the substantiation
of I. V. Kurchatov’s proposals, presented to a special committee on January 27, 1950, for developing a source of nuclear
power that “The main factor is economic – the cost of a kW·h.” This was based on comparing the natural cost of equipment,
operation, and fuel with the corresponding costs for coal-burning heat and electricity plants. The estimate included, together
with other costs, the costs of the safety technology. These costs also included protection from radiation and from uncontrol-
lable chain reactions and a special requirement for equipment quality and reliability. But, at that time it was impossible to
make a realistic estimate of the safety costs.
Operating experience showed that even the highest quality cannot prevent accidents, and it engendered an approach
to an object that generates nuclear power as an object with greater danger, requiring the application of special measures and
systems for guaranteeing safety. A system of technical requirements is beginning to form around the factors associated with
the danger of an accident, special scientific-research work directed toward understanding the processes occurring in transient
regimes and emergency situations is being conducted, and the foundation for organizational-normative safety guarantees is
now being laid.
The content and degree of completeness of all three “blocks” determine the crux of the efforts directed toward
• scientific-methodological guarantees of safety;
• organizational-normative base, reflecting the public’s expectations or requirements for safety;
• technical means and measures for guaranteeing safety.
The content of each block is based on the results obtained in the preceding blocks.
Atomic Energy, Vol. 96, No. 1, 2004
SAFETY OF NUCLEAR POWER: THE PRESENT
AND GUARANTEES FOR THE FUTURE
V. G. Asmolov and V. A. Sidorenko UDC 621.039’58
Russian Science Center Kurchatov Institute. Translated from Atomnaya Énergiya, Vol. 96, No. 1, pp. 3–23, January,
2004. Original article submitted October 13, 2003.
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation