Safety assessment for a radioactive effluent treatment facility

Fourie, Elna
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An in depth evaluation of safety is an essential component of the successful operation of nuclear facilities. The Safety Assessment Methodology is the tool applied to perform the safety evaluations of a facility in order to demonstrate satisfactory safety of such a facility to the operator, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in South Africa, and to the public. A Safety Assessment is performed and documented to demonstrate the compliance with safety objectives, principles and criteria as stipulated by national and international standards. In South Africa the Department of Mineral and Energy publishes the National Nuclear Regulatory Requirements for demonstrating safety of a Nuclear Facility. As such, this Safety Assessment provides a formal structured procedure for defining the logic of systems and assessing the consequences if failure in the control logic occurs. This Safety Assessment demonstrates that the radioactive effluent generated at a typical nuclear facility the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) is managed according to national and internationally acceptable proven technology and standards. Those standards are documented in the National Nuclear Regulatory Act. Licensing documents have been issued by the Regulator to guide the holder of a nuclear installation licence to compile a Safety Assessment. International standards are provided by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) through a number of technical documents and the Safety Standards Series. This Safety Assessment aims to show that the Radioactive Effluent Treatment Facility at Necsa can be operated without endangering the lives of the operators and the public and without having adverse effects on the environment. The hazards of operating a Radioactive Effluent Treatment Facility include radiological, chemical and conventional hazards. However, this Safety Assessment only focuses on the radiological (radiation and contamination) hazards and, in particular on the radiological hazards associated with the accidental exposure of an operator to Medium Activity Effluent. This report demonstrates the safety condition of the Radioactive Effluent Treatment Facility at Necsa by providing: 1. a systematic evaluation of consequences in the case of accidental exposure and 2. a documented demonstration of the controls in place to ensure that the workers, members of the public and environment are protected sufficiently, with the main focus being on worker exposure. The justification of the discharge of treated radioactive effluent into the environment is a globally accepted practice. This Safety Assessment briefly discusses environmental discharge practices but the main focus is on the analysis of the protection of the workers of the Radioactive Effluent Treatment Facility. The radioactive effluent is only discharged into the nearby Crocodile River if it is in compliance with discharge criteria as set by the National Nuclear Regulator and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.