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TO ENERGY, NATIONAL, AND SCIENCE EDITORS:
Updated Fukushima Civilian Panel Report Highlights Largely Unaddressed
"Human Factors" As Important As Earthquake And Tsunami In 2011 Reactor
EDITOR'S NOTE: Copies of "The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Disaster: Investigating the Myth and Reality" published in collaboration with Routledge/Earthscan will be made available to book reviewers. Streaming audio of the news event proceedings will be available after the telenews event concludes on March 6, 2014. A high-resolution file of the book cover is available upon request.
CHICAGO and TOKYO, March 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An
extensively updated and expanded version of the Independent
Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident
report published in English by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
(BAS) cautions that Japan has not yet fully learned the lessons of the
Fukushima reactor disaster, particularly the several ways in which the
"human factor" played a major role paving the way for the crisis and
worsening its aftermath.
Concluding with the warning that "Fukushima must never be forgotten,"
the new book - "The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Disaster:
Investigating the Myth and Reality" will be issued on March 11, 2014,
the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.
In March 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami triggered a
total loss of electrical power that caused the first Level 7 nuclear
accident since Chernobyl, making it among the largest-scale nuclear
accidents in history. At the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO)
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, reactor cores in units 1, 2,
and 3 suffered meltdowns; unit 4's reactor building was largely
destroyed; and the area around the spent fuel pool was damaged, while
hydrogen explosions punctuated the disaster as it unfolded.
Radioactive elements blanketed the area. Three years later-more than
140,000 people continue to live as refugees from radioactive
contamination. On top of this, many hundreds of thousands of people in
Japan live with daily anxiety over the unknown effects, both today and
long into the future, of radioactive contamination.
Dr. Yoichi Funabashi, chairman, Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation
and report co-author, said: "Three years after March 11, 2011, this
crisis has not ended, because of the unsolved issue of the
contaminated water and the fact that there has been little change in
the human side of the equation: the whole system of Japan's
governance and leadership on nuclear matters. Putting aside the
question of the issues with nuclear technology, the human factor that
led up to the Fukushima crisis must remain a major concern. We need
to learn the Fukushima lessons more seriously in pursuing a new way of
decision-making, a new way of crisis management, a new form of
governance and leadership. Otherwise, we run the risk of an even more
disastrous situation in which Japan would have gained little in terms
of wisdom from the Fukushima experience."
Kennette Benedict, PhD, executive director, Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists, said: "We are very pleased to release in English the
expanded and updated version of the independent civilian review panel
report on the Fukushima disaster. The book we are publishing on March
11, 2014 reveals the truth behind the tragic saga of the multiple
catastrophic accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
It serves as a valuable and essential historical reference, which will
help to inform and guide future nuclear safety and policy in Japan,
the United States, and internationally."
The updated and expanded civilian review committee's report highlights
several ways in which the human factor played as significant a role in
the Fukushima disaster as the earthquake and subsequent tsunami:
-- Lack of unified and independent regulatory controls. "Perhaps the
biggest takeaway from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station disaster
concerns the nonexistence of an effective nuclear regulatory
organization in Japan-one that is independent from nuclear
enterprises, politics, or academia; in short, independent from any
community within the 'nuclear power village.' To work towards this
objective post-Fukushima, the Japanese government established the
Nuclear Regulation Authority-an independent out?t headed by Chairman
Shunichi Tanaka, former president of the Atomic Energy Society of
Japan and former director of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency
(previously known as the Tokai Research and Development Center of the
Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute)-as well as the Nuclear
Regulation Agency as its secretariat, and the two regulatory out?ts
debuted in September 2012. Since then, however, the Nuclear Regulation
Authority has been caught in constant cross?re between pro and
anti-nuclear groups. And the pressure has not been mild . a national
consensus remained unreached on both the nation's regulation of
nuclear power stations and its nuclear energy policy issues."
-- Faulty management oversight. "In March 2013, TEPCO's Nuclear
Reform Monitoring Committee published a report in which it
admitted-for the ?rst time-that the accident was a 'human-generated
disaster.' This is, in fact, made obvious in the following pages, as
our commission illuminates the clear lack of facilitation and
preparedness for a severe incident at a nuclear power station in
Japan. Yet the lessons to be learned from Fukushima are not only
safety issues, but security issues as well. That said, it remains to
be seen whether TEPCO as well as NRA will work to deepen security at
-- False sense of infallible technology. "The myth of absolute safety
blocked implementation of the so-called 'backfit approach,' in which
new scientific knowledge and the latest technological developments are
incorporated into existing nuclear power generation systems in order
to improve security. In the case of Fukushima, Japan's power companies
and regulatory bodies feared that any safety improvements would
provoke criticism that the existing safety provisions and regulations
were inadequate- and then such criticisms would have to be addressed.
In addition, they feared that the public would demand that nuclear
reactors be shut down until all such safety improvements had been
The Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear Accident, a civilian-led group, consisted of a working group
of more than 30 people, including natural scientists and engineers,
social scientists and researchers, business people, lawyers, and
journalists, who researched this crisis involving multiple
simultaneous dangers. They conducted over 300 investigative interviews
to collect testimony from relevant individuals. The responsibility of
this committee was to act as an external ombudsman, summarizing its
conclusions in the form of an original report, published in Japanese
in February 2012. That report was substantially rewritten and revised
for this English-language book edition. The English edition includes
the reviews by 3 world-renowned experts, Professor Frank von Hippel
(Princeton University), Dr. Jessica Mathews (President of the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace), and Professor Paul t'Hart (Utrecht
University School of Governance).
ABOUT THE BULLETIN
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists informs the public about threats
to the survival and development of humanity from nuclear weapons,
climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.
Through an award-winning magazine, our online presence, and the
Doomsday Clock, we reach policy leaders and audiences around the world
with information and analysis about efforts to address the dangers and
prevent catastrophe. With fellowships for students and awards to young
journalists, we help educate the next generation. For more
information, go to www.thebulletin.org.
SOURCE Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Chicago
/CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or email@example.com.
/Web Site: http://www.thebulletin.org
CO: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Chicago
ST: Illinois Japan
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