The global nuclear industry’s already established robust safety culture is helping related organisations to act fast and modify their processes during the Covid-19 pandemic, says data and analytics company GlobalData.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is providing support to 14 countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak. It is offering diagnostic kits, equipment and training in a nuclear-driven diagnostic technique called real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
“The IAEA’s RT-PCR technique is of crucial assistance. It enables the detection of the virus precisely within hours in humans, along with animals that may host the virus. This method can also provide more information about the exposure and transmission pattern of the virus. This eventually would prove to be a significant tool to detect and curb the further spread of the virus.
"These measures will enhance the safety precautions undertaken by the nuclear plants. They would help keep the workers free from getting infected and, at the same time, allow operations to run seamlessly,” says GlobalData senior power analyst Somik Das.
“Measures have been taken to screen nuclear power plant (NPP) workers and isolate those who show Covid-19 symptoms through temperature checks to detect fever. All countries have advised their staff to work remotely and not on site, hence aiding with physical distancing measures, Das adds.
Das indicates that, in the US, officials have mentioned that they may quarantine crucial NPP technicians and suggest that they live on site to decrease their proximity with others. Moreover, many operators are stocking food supplies, beds and other essential items to support their staff for this purpose.
Also, key NPP staff could be required to stay in assigned accommodation and commute to and from the nuclear facility in separate transportation. To safeguard the health of workers in regions where the occurrence of the virus may rise considerably, actions such as changing shift patterns are being assessed, Das points out.