Fukushima Report Questions US Nuclear Safety Culture


Fukushima Report Questions US Nuclear Safety Culture

By Brandon T. Bisceglia | August 13th 2014

It wasn’t explicitly tasked by Congress with assessing the safety culture of nuclear facilities.

Nevertheless, an extensive new report written by the Committee on Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants devoted an entire chapter to the issue.

The report, published by the National Academies Press, recommends that regulators such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission guard against erosion of their independence from outside influences, that regulators and industry continually monitor safety culture, and that both increase their transparent communication with the public about efforts to assess and improve safety culture. SEE http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18294

“The committee quickly came to understand that the lack of a strong nuclear safety culture was an important contributing factor to the Fukushima Daiichi accident,” the authors write in the chapter’s introduction. “The committee also came to appreciate the important role that nuclear safety culture plays in nuclear plant operations and regulations in the United States.”

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility was heavily damaged on March 11, 2011 by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The shore-hugging plant flooded and lost power. Three reactors suffered severe core damage. Hydrogen explosions occurred in three reactor buildings. The hobbled plant leaked radiation, stoking fears in Japan and abroad. Since then, efforts have been underway to clean the site and dismantle the plant.

Unit 4 of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Dec. 18, 2012. The remains of the building’s upper levels, which were destroyed by a hydrogen explosion, were removed to allow for construction of a cover so that fuel stored in the unit’s spent fuel pool could be moved to a common pool. Photo by Gill Tudor / IAEA. Some rights reserved.