C. Gariazzo, “The Nuclear Facilities Experience: A Joint 3S Educational Endeavor for Students from Japan, Vietnam, Russia, and the United States”, INMM 54th Annual Meeting, 14-18 July 2013, Palm Desert, California, USA.
When an event occurs at one nuclear facility, its effects are felt throughout the global industry. Therefore, the entire industry benefits from collaborations that reach beyond national borders to provide opportunities for the next generation of nuclear experts and to develop a culture of safety, safeguards, and security (3S) in young nuclear professionals. Universities from Japan, U.S., Russia, and Vietnam joined together in 2013 to provide a unique opportunity for nuclear engineering students: the Nuclear Facility Experience (NFE). The NFE consists of a series of visits to operational nuclear installations in a nuclear-advanced nation for students to learn how certain facilities function, witness the scale of nuclear operations, and discuss 3S (particularly safety and safeguards) practices with facility operators. This opportunity to witness the work being conducted at these facilities and have conversations with knowledgeable practitioners on operations, safety, and safeguards is essential to the students’ growth as competent nuclear energy experts. In 2013, a group of students and faculty from Hanoi University of Science (Vietnam), Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan), Tomsk Polytechnic University (Russia), and Texas A&M University (USA) began an NFE in Japan with a visit to Hiroshima where the gravity of adverse nuclear applications and the importance of nonproliferation and nuclear security was shown. Following this, the group traveled to MONJU FBR R&D Center (to learn implementation of safeguards to a sodium-cooled FBR), the FUGEN Decommissioning Center (to learn about plutonium accountancy measurements), and the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant (to witness current efforts in implementing 3S at NPPs). After visiting the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency’s Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation to understand the challenges of implementing safeguards in Japan (including safeguards/SSAC implementation to melted fuel at the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP), the participants visited the Rokkasho reprocessing plant to learn about implementing safeguards measures throughout the facility. The NFE shows the students how safeguards are applied in operational facilities and exhibits current R&D efforts better than reading/hearing these topics in their course work at their respective universities. This report will delve further in personal reflections of the visits and share some lessons learned of the NFE.