Another Critical Assessment of Fukishima Response

Japan Fukushima probe panel urges new disaster prevention steps, mindset. An abstract of the new report:

A government-appointed inquiry into Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis raised doubts on Monday about whether other atomic plants were prepared for massive disasters despite new safety rules, and delivered a damning assessment of the regulators and the station’s operator.

One thought on “Another Critical Assessment of Fukishima Response

  1. I am not a big fan of regulators, but – for once – I have to praise the USNRC, esp. in comparison with the comparable Japanese agency. Based on my personal experience, the relationship between regulated and regulator in Japan is much too close, and dominated by the utilities. Given the history of the Japanese nuclear enterprise, it was not a big surprise that routine things that should have been done/considered were overlooked. Conversely, we have not had the same kinds – or numbers – of incidents in the US, primarily due to the NRC’s oversight.

    That said, I get really ticked off when any disagreement – in this case, about the future of nuclear power in Japan – is viewed as an “either-or” choice (e.g., no nuclear power, rebuild as is, or improve the both construction and oversight). It seldom is. All sides must recognize that any choice has consequences. Japan has almost no energy resources of its own. One of the reasons that nuclear power has rather strong roots in Japan is that it is a good choice economically esp. compared to fossil fuels (and I believe it to be so even if you include the cost spike due to Fukushima vs the “death of a thousand cuts” due to other power sources – costs of ash pits, transport of natural gas…). For almost all of these choices, it’s not risk vs no risk, it’s recognizing ALL the choices and the risks that go with them, and then making a rational choice.

    A US analogy is the decision so many individuals have made to build or live in areas at risk to extreme weather events. We as a society are faced with the choices to encourage this (which in fact we do in some ways), discourage, ban, or demand that if you build in a risky area you build in a way so that the rest of us don’t have to bail you out. In this case, unfortunately, we have recognized neither all the choices nor all of their consequences, and certainly have not made rational decisions.

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