Transcripts Provide Unique Glimpse of an Agency in Action

The NRC today has made available about 3,000 pages of transcribed conversations from the agency’s emergency operations center representing much of our communications over the first 10 days of the Fukushima reactor crisis in Japan in March 2011.

These documents provide a rare look inside the workings of the agency’s crisis center as the men and women of the NRC worked 24/7 to find ways to help Americans in Japan, the Japanese government and the firm that owns the Fukushima reactors.

It is up close and personal, gritty and unvarnished. It lays out the very human stories of staffers working with little rest, talking to counterparts half a world away while at the same time conversing with other agencies in the executive branch, our armed forces and the domestic nuclear industry.

This is a historical record of what went down in those early days.

As you read these transcripts – partially redacted and produced at substantial cost over nine months in response to Freedom of Information Act requests — you’ll see that the first days were very hectic. There wasn’t a lot of information. There was confusion and communication problems.

But the NRC staff quickly settled into a rhythm after the first alert – long hours, little rest, bad food – and important handoffs between shifts, regular communications with our teams in Japan, and in time working directly with the Japanese and TEPCO, the plant owner. And there was steady communication with the American public and the news media. In fact, this blog became a primary communications tool and readership greatly exceeded our expectations.

The situation appears stable now, but it was far from it in the early days as staff experts, under the direction of Chairman Jaczko, made tough and sometimes controversial recommendations.

Today, the NRC is working to implement lessons our experts have culled from what happened at Fukushima.

We invite you to read these transcripts to see an agency hard at work in the name of safety.

Eliot Brenner
Director, Office of Public Affairs
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