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"Preventing the Next Fukushima"

One of Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant's nuclear reactors is seen in Avila Beach, Calif., Nov. 3, 2008.
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"Preventing the Next Fukushima"

POLICYFORUM Nuclear Safety

Magazine or Newspaper Article, Science, volume 333, pages 1580-1581

September 16, 2011

Authors: Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy

 

Weak authority and largely voluntary standards limit global institutions' impact on nuclear safety and security.

 

While this year's disaster at Japan's Fukushima Dai'ichi plant, the worst since Chernobyl in 1986, was caused by the one-two punch of a huge earthquake followed by an immense tsunami—a disaster unlikely to occur in many locations—it revealed technical and institutional weaknesses that must be fixed around the world. If nuclear power is to grow on the scale required to be a significant part of the solution to global climate disruption or scarcity of fossil fuels, major steps are needed to rebuild confidence that nuclear facilities will be safe from accidents and secure against attacks ( 1).

It is too soon to draw all the lessons from the Fukushima disaster. But it is clear that the reactors' abilities to maintain cooling in the event of a prolonged loss of power and to vent dangerous gas buildups were insufficient, as were the operators' ability to respond to large-scale emergencies and the regulators' degree of independence from the nuclear industry ( 2). Operators and regulators around the world are reviewing their nuclear safety measures and responding to heightened public concerns. Governments' conclusions have ranged from China's plan to continue its massive nuclear construction effort to Germany's decision to phase out all nuclear energy by 2022....

Continue reading: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6049/1580.full.pdf (log in may be required)

 

1. M. Bunn, M. Malin, Innovations: Tech. Gov. Global. 4, 173 (2009).

2. Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, Report of Japanese Government to the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety: The Accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Power Stations (Government of Japan, Tokyo, 2011).

 

From Bunn, Matthew and Olli Heinonen. "Preventing the Next Fukushima." Science 333, September 16, 2011: 1580–1581. Reprinted with permission from AAAS

 

For more information about this publication please contact the MTA Project Coordinator at 617-495-4219.

Full text of this publication is available at:
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6049/1580.full.pdf

For Academic Citation:

From Bunn, Matthew and Olli Heinonen. "Preventing the Next Fukushima." Science 333, September 16, 2011: 1580–1581.

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