Asan Plenum

Lessons Learned from Fukushima Nuclear Reactors Accidents

The unprecedented accidents at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant just after the catastrophic disasters of earthquakes and tsunamis on March 11, 2011 demonstrated the tremendous difficulty to cope with these multiple mega disasters simultaneously.

For one thing, the prearranged nuclear disaster response system which had been set in place since the JCO Tokaimura nuclear criticality accident in 1999 was never mobilized this time. Critics argue that this is a failure on the part of the current administration to utilize the existing response system, while others argue that the prearranged system has systemic deficiency in itself. In any event, as a results, the effort by the prime minister to lead the crisis response irrespective of the existing arrangement caused significant complications in terms of command and control, information collection and sharing, and risk communication. Multi-stakeholder cooperation – interagency cooperation, national and local government cooperation, and government-Tokyo Electric Power Company cooperation – proved extremely challenging. The role of political leadership at a time of national crisis requires further examination. Moreover, the effort to secure policy sequence between managing nuclear reactor accidents and evacuation policy posed another challenges.

This presentation will highlight some of the key lessons learned in the following areas: implementation of the probabilistic risk assessment in nuclear safety and security; accident management system; evacuation policy; environmental monitoring; risk communication; and large area decontamination.

It will also present some proposals for international cooperation for nuclear safety and security in the coming years, such as:
– Establishing a stringent nuclear safety standard as well as a new international apparatus to be in charge of nuclear safety regulation;
– Establishing and implementing a new guidance for training and exercises for nuclear disaster preparation and response; and
– Sharing lessons learned from environmental monitoring, evacuation policy, and risk communication.