The new licensing standards were further improved by taking into account of lessons learned from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident, and countermeasures against severe accidents were newly required as regulatory items, where severe accidents were defined as serious accidents that occur under conditions exceeding design bases. Organic solvent fire in cell was defined as one of the severe accidents in nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, which should be investigated, in order to establish methods for evaluating effectiveness of the countermeasures.
One of the combustibles in the fire accident at reprocessing facilities is the organic solvent composed of 30% tributyl phosphate (TBP) and 70% dodecane. When the solvent burns, aerosol of soot and radioactive substances are released inside the facility. The aerosol causes a clogging of high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters) in a ventilation system of the facility, which increases a differential pressure of the filters.
We have performed combustion tests simulating the fire accident. As one of interesting results of the tests, we observed, when most of dodecane in the solvent was burned out, a rapid increase in a differential pressure of a HEPA filter, which may cause its rupture. We also found a small amount of RuO4 release from the burning solvent, which can pass through HEPA filters due to its volatility. These phenomena should be adapted in the effectiveness evaluations of the countermeasures against the fire accident.