To implement what we’ve learned from 2011’s Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, the NRC in November 2011 created a group of more than 20 full-time employees focused exclusively on these activities. This Japan Lessons Learned Project Directorate is now a year old, and everything it’s accomplished to date highlights our dedication to enhancing U.S. nuclear power plant safety.
The directorate’s initial focus, with support from across the NRC and other federal agencies, was issuing orders and requests for information in March 2012 that address many of the lessons we’ve learned.
The Mitigation Strategies order ensures that U.S. reactors will have additional emergency power supplies and other equipment to safely handle extreme natural disasters. The Reliable Hardened Vents order ensures U.S. reactors similar to Fukushima will have more robust systems to vent pressure and hydrogen, helping avoid the explosions we saw during the accident. The Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation order ensures U.S. reactors will be better able to monitor how much water is in their spent fuel pools during an emergency. The information requests have plants reconsidering their earthquake and flooding hazards in light of the latest information, and also ask plants to consider their emergency plans for such situations.
Our work on these issues in fiscal year 2012 included 82 public meetings, and the entire agency devoted 51,203 person-hours to Fukushima-related activities. That’s the equivalent of 43 full-time staff members working on these improvements.
Across the country nuclear power plants are responding to our efforts; all 104 U.S. reactors have performed two walkdowns per reactor, one for earthquake issues and one for flooding. The plants have sent us hundreds of updates, covering issues such as the status of newly purchased equipment for safely handling a prolonged blackout and new spent fuel pool instrumentation.
We’ve also created this logo to help you identify our work on implementing the lessons we’ve learned. The bonsai tree represents Japanese culture, with the green foliage in the shape of Japan’s islands representing hope and growth. The red sun comes from Japan’s flag, and the base of the logo represents a solid foundation of cooperation and understanding. It’s important to remember that the NRC’s work on Fukushima-related matters applies only to U.S. reactors. Japan’s decisions on issues, such as restarting reactors, are entirely that country’s and independent of the NRC’s activities.
All the work we’ve completed this past year sets the foundation for several additional years of action on the orders and requests for information. We expect to get the first sets of flooding and seismic re-analyses next year, as well as every plant’s integrated approach to complying with the orders. We’re also planning several long-term activities looking into other aspects of what happened at Fukushima, so keep an eye out for further developments.Scott Burnell Public Affairs Officer