Documenting a Sobering Trip to Fukushima

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

Reflections on FukushimaAs we mentioned on the blog last year, senior NRC leaders visited the site of the Fukushima nuclear accident and the surrounding area. Now, the agency has published a report that includes essays on what the team members learned. The report helps ensure current and future NRC staff can benefit from the team’s experience in the future.

The group included managers from the agency’s reactor oversight, research and emergency preparedness programs. They make up most of the agency’s Fukushima Steering Committee, which guides the staff’s implementation of what we learned from the accident. They also take active roles in ensuring U.S. nuclear power plants are prepared to deal with events similar to what happened at Fukushima experienced.

It’s clear from the team members’ essays that the visit affected them deeply. For example, Bill Dean (now director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation) was Administrator of the NRC’s Region I office outside Philadelphia when he took part in the trip. “Most importantly, it enabled us to observe firsthand the far-reaching impacts of a nuclear disaster—not only its physical effects on the facility and the surrounding countryside but also its impact on a nation’s psyche and its people,” Dean writes. “What resonated with each and every one of us is that we cannot allow a Fukushima-like event to occur in the United States.”

Marc Dapas, Adminstrator of the Region IV office in Arlington, Texas, reflects on discussing the accident with plant staff at Fukushima. “Hearing these TEPCO employees describe what they faced and then seeing the actual physical configuration of equipment at the Fukushima sites left an indelible impression on me regarding the importance of being prepared for the unexpected,” Depas writes. “In that context, I considered the safety measures and enhancements that the NRC has required … The key in my view is to ensure that these safety measures are rigorously implemented and maintained.”

The team’s visit covered both the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and the nearby Fukushima Daini plant, which safely withstood the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The visit also covered Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, a nuclear power plant on Japan’s west coast that survived a strong 2007 earthquake.

You can read the essays from Dean and the other trip participants in the report, and you watch a summary video about the trip on the NRC’s YouTube channel.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

31 thoughts on “Documenting a Sobering Trip to Fukushima”

  1. Honestly Abe?!
    Contrary to what most (60%) Japanese want, Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe is directing the restart of nuclear plants in Japan. Honestly Abe you are really rolling the dice.
    The following is a quote from a CNN article at:
    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/22/opinions/abe-nuclear-restart/index.html
    “The PM is at the heart of the controversy and is often seen as the point man for the “nuclear village,” the name used by Japanese to refer to the pro-nuclear advocates — from the industry, big business, bureaucracy, politicians, the media and academia alike. It is well represented in the corridors of power, and Abe has vigorously promoted reactor restarts to cut fuel imports, bolster economic growth and to promote exports of Japanese nuclear knowhow and technology.
    Restarts are vital to Abe’s hopes of promoting nuclear plant and technology exports as it’s hard to make a sales pitch if the country’s reactors are shut down for safety reasons.
    As the first Japanese nuclear reactor fired up again (after the 2011 Fukushima disaster), Abe was touting Japan’s nuclear safety regulations as the world’s strictest. But such rhetorical grandstanding aside, the staff of the new Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) — the body now tasked with overseeing safety standards — is almost entirely culled from the discredited Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that was supposed to be ensuring compliance with regulations before Fukushima, but failed to do so.”
    Other items from this article with my comments noted:
    • (As a result of this disaster) Japanese “utilities have spent a lot of money in upgrading safety standards in terms of hardware such as higher seawalls, better vents and safer remote command centers,…”

    Comment: The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has done considerably less to upgrade identical nuclear power plants here. For example, the NRC bowed to US nuclear industry pressure to not have to install a filtered vent system to reduce the amount of radioactivity released to the environment in the event of a Fukushima-type accident here. That’s not all either. Forget providing or improving seawalls here for plants on the sea-shore. Forget reducing the inventory of used but highly radioactive fuel stored in nuclear plant spent fuel pools at over 90 locations in the US. (Thank God Japanese spent fuel pools had but a fraction of the amount of spent fuel stored in them than US spent fuel pools when the disaster occurred! Unlike the US, thanks to better planning, safe, centralized, off-site interim storage was provided in Japan for this fuel.) And even this is not all. Bowing to more nuclear industry pressure to not require important but costly safety improvements, the NRC has allowed US nuclear plant owners to only provide mitigation (NOT prevention) strategies in the event of a similar disaster here.
    In addition to the over 1,000 deaths in Japan due the evacuation of citizens around the Fukushima reactors, now the first radiation death has been attributed to Fukushima (Please see http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/japan-acknowledges-possible-fukushima-nuclear-radiation-casualty-n447596).
    Undoubtedly the first of many!

    • “Japan’s nuclear safety myth evaporated following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, where a huge earthquake and the subsequent tsunami caused a meltdown in three reactors at the northern Japanese plant.”
    Comment:
    The article goes on to note that following the disaster, the government, along with the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), lost credibility as claims that they downplayed the severity of the accident, misled the public and left more than 100,000 nuclear refugees stranded in limbo, emerged.
    Those of us who painfully remember the 1979 Three Mile Island (TMI) disaster in this country recall the additional pain that was caused by similar downplayed & misleading information from both the TMI owner and the NRC. The TMI information was also slow in coming.
    • “Japanese citizens remain skeptical about nuclear power after media revelations about the cozy relations between safety watchdog authorities and the utility companies that compromised public safety.
    Comment:
    In the aftermath of TMI the US nuclear industry and the NRC took a number of very significant & costly measures to prevent a similar tragedy in this country. The prevailing motto at the time was that we would never allow another TMI. Sadly, as time has marched on, our nuclear folks believe that our plants are now plenty safe and that if anything we went overboard on safety improvements. As a result the NRC has relaxed many regulations & it has allowed the industry to come up with its own “initiatives” to improve safety rather than requiring safety improvements through regulation. As these “initiatives” are not requirements they cannot be inspected or even enforced by the NRC.
    • “(In Japan) three major investigations into the accident have detailed a series of errors, assumptions and omissions that enabled a culture of complacency to prevail — safety inspectors are perceived as having deferred to the utilities, averted their eyes from violations and demonstrated an unseemly tolerance for best case scenarios”.
    Comment:
    Despite top NRC officials actually visiting the devastation caused by the Fukushima disaster in Japan and promising to make sure a similar disaster is avoided here in the US, the NRC has not required preventative measures to be taken in this country. Only much less costly mitigation measures proposed by the nuclear industry have been instituted.
    A sweeping change in how the US NRC enforces its regulations was made fifteen years ago. As a result over 96% of the violations identified at nuclear power plants no longer require a written response from the power plant owner. There is no longer a written public record of just what specific actions were taken by the owner to identify the root cause of the violations nor is there any information on just what was done to correct the problem and prevent its reoccurrence.
    • “(Japanese) utilities are also deemed to have ignored specific recommendations prior to the 2011 accident from safety officials — that in retrospect look very sensible and would probably have ensured that Fukushima did not become Japan’s Chernobyl.”
    Comment:
    After the ’79 TMI disaster actions were required by the NRC to not only mitigate a disaster in the US but more importantly to prevent one here in the first place. After Fukushima the NRC has not required US nuclear plants to take any actions to prevent a similar disaster here. I guess it will take yet another nuclear disaster in the US to prompt real action to protect the public.
    I guess our NRC is just a tombstone regulator. We must experience casualties of our own here before anything substantial is done to protect public health and safety.
    In my opinion there is a dangerous mind set in our country by nuclear plant owners & the NRC regarding the safety of our nuclear power plant fleet. Namely, that our plants are the safest in the world and that a Fukushima, a Chernobyl, or another TMI simply cannot happen here.
    Pride and complacency go before a fall.
    And it is not the nuclear industry and the NRC who will suffer and die!

  2. What I would like to believe is that some of the people that work in this business, and visited Fukishima, actually , are following current status, of the continuing damages incurring, there, and moving across the World, – and instead of trying to cover up, are actually trying to gather scientists, and anyone else able to help, from any Country , Background, to get Control of any leaks , stop them and any further contamination.This is no time for foolish human games,- too much at Stake … Destroying Mother Earth and Her Living Beings for any reason, Cannot work, it will destroy us.

  3. Anonymous Engineer Poet – here are data quotes: 1) “Chairman Joseph Hendrie had confirmed on March 30, in the midst of the accident, the doses to individual areas where the plume touched the ground were “husky” and in the range of 120 millirems per hour and more; 2) …figures showed an infant-death rate within that ten-mile radius of 7.2 per 1000 live births in 1978; in 1979, after the accident, the number had risen to 15.7 per 1000–a more than doubling. 3)The numbers for infant-death rates within a five-mile radius of TMI–though small–were even more damning. In 1978 the rate had been 2.3 infant deaths per 1000 live births; in 1979, after the accident, it was 16.2–a jump by a factor of seven.” UNC report – ” “Several hundred people at the time of the accident reported nausea, vomiting, hair loss and skin rashes, and a number said their pets died or had symptoms of radiation exposure,” he said. “We figured that if that were possible, we ought to look at it again. After adjusting for pre-accident cancer incidence, we found a striking increase in cancers downwind from Three Mile Island.”

    Above are 3 examples of data in the narrative by Dr. Sternglass, and 1 example from the UNC News release, there are many more examples, I list these as evidence that your tactics and words are deceitful attacks with the specific intention of facilitating untruths in support of nuclear industry deceit. May God help us all if you, anonymous Poet-Engineer, are associated with the nuclear industry in any form or fashion.

    The connection between Three Mile Island and Fukushima Daiichi is this – proponents of nuclear power are more concerned with corporate bottom lines than health of the public and/or facts. In the attempt to deceive and attack people who demonstrate your words are basic untruths, you proceed with deceitful, personal attacks. If you are associated with nuclear power your character demonstrated is a serious Human Reliability failure.

  4. @ Garry,

    There is no need for Engineer-Poet to hide behind plain truth. As for you, you may link nuclear energy to military weaponry, electricity to chair or vaseline with napalm.

    Note: Some verbiage removed by the Moderator to adhere to Blog Comment Guidelines.

  5. Anonymous “Engineer Poet, you find it convenient to wage personal attacks in your diatribe. It is a reflection of your inability to discuss, in reasonable terms, the important issues brought forward.

    Nuclear power’s beginnings took place as a result of the nuclear weapons projects of World War 2, that is a historical fact (period).

  6. To say and use the article at the link, which you and others have used previously, which says radon is associated with lower rates of cancer is beyond ridiculous, it is a lie.

    Epidemiology says it’s the truth.  People claiming that risk is proportional to radiation exposure are claiming that the linear no-threshold (LNT) model, which was adopted in an institutionally-corrupted procedure driven by the Rockefeller Foundation and has many proven counter-examples, is The Truth.  In this they are not unlike the Catholic Church prosecuting Galileo for heresy for declaring that the universe is not centered on the Earth.

    Radon is the second largest cause of deadly lung cancer

    Then why doesn’t the EPA require warning placards on radon-rich hot springs, in which people have been bathing for centuries… for their health?

    article by Dr. Earnest Sternglass – http://www.ratical.org/radiation/KillingOurOwn/KOO14.html

    Which is a narrative article about a difference of opinion between public officials; no data whatsoever.

    UNC Epidemiology study http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/feb97/wing.html

    Which isn’t a scientific paper, it’s a news release claiming that there was evidence of exposure to high radiation levels—which evidence is alleged but not even remotely documented.  For that matter, actual radioisotope releases would include longer-lived nuclides which could be directly measured years after the event.  Such measurements are completely absent from your “documentation”.

    That level of smoke and mirrors is par for the course for “evidence” that nuclear energy has harmed anyone in the USA.  It’s about what I’d expect for a last-ditch effort on the part of fossil-fuel interests trying to block their replacement by carbon-free nuclear energy.

  7. This completely ignores, and was not mentioned, the long term health effects of radiological contamination.

    The phrase “long-term health effects of radiological contamination” is something else that could have come straight out of a Greenpeace press release or Helen Caldicott Powerpoint slide.

    Is there a difference between “radiological contamination” and “radiation exposure”?  Hiroshima and Nagasaki were never evacuated and have been thriving cities for several generations since they were bombed.  Life in Denver exposes one to far more radiation (11.8 mSv/yr from natural sources) than Japan considers safe for Fukushima evacuees.  The latest news is that climbing Mt. Everest is good for about a milliSievert due to less atmospheric shielding from cosmic rays.  Why haven’t we seen the “long-term health effects” from these things… and why aren’t they top items on your agenda*?

    Cancer does not kill immediately, the learned individuals of the NRC know this to be a fact, but none state the fact or express this concern in their report.

    Cancers that never occur cannot kill.  The Fukushima group has a lower incidence of asymptomatic thyroid nodules than unexposed Japanese, and they are genetically distinct from the thyroid cancers found in Chernobyl victims.

    In the previous video of the NRC’s trip to Fukushima not one person mentioned what actually happened to the nuclear reactors in the disaster, 3 nuclear reactor core meltdowns.

    One would think that a reactor core meltdown would be of no more significance than an ice-cube meltdown unless it had deleterous effects on people or the environment.  Why can’t you point to those effects?

    1) Cancer is a high risk as a result of radiation contamination extending for years in the exposed population.

    If that was true, we would see large negative effects in the populations of Colorado, Nepal, Guarapari, Kerala, etc. due to the elevated levels of natural radiation in those areas.  We do not.  People in Colorado are healthier than the US as a whole.  Guarapari is “the healthy city”.  Both Chernobyl cleanup workers (“anomalous finding of ERR/Gy = –0.47”) and Japanese A-bomb survivors show evidence of a “J-curve” in the incidence of cancers, where middling exposures drop the incidence below background.

    Deception and denial of the risks of nuclear power to human health and our economy is a failure of human reliability.

    Exaggeration and outright fabrication of risks are an equal or greater failure, and the increasing pace of climate change makes such fear-mongering a risk to the entire planet.

    TEPCO has demonstrated they are not reliable, they will intentionally deceive to protect their financial bottom line instead of the people of Japan.

    * Damaging health effects have had generations to manifest themselves; they haven’t been observed because they don’t exist.  They’re not on Garry Morgan’s agenda because they do not protect the fossil fuel interests against competition from nuclear energy.

    Note: Some verbiage removed by the moderator for adherence to the Blog Guidelines.

  8. The first nuclear bombs exploded over a target pre-dated the first nuclear power plant by almost 10 years.  The first plant to feed an electric grid was in Obninsk in the USSR in 1954… almost a decade after the 1945 bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    North Korea has had at least two different nuclear bomb programs, but STILL doesn’t have a confirmed nuclear energy program.  Anyone who insists that nuclear energy creates nuclear weapons should be considered insane.  The truth is the reverse.

  9. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) supports nuclear power and the development of more expensive dangerous nuclear power, not accurate scientific evidence for the purpose of protecting human life.

    Very good use of sound-bite phrases with “more expensive dangerous nuclear power”, especially when UK off-shore wind projects require much higher guaranteed rates than even Hinckley Point.  Despite their overruns, both Flamanville and Olkiluoto are projected to come in well below the price of Denmark’s and Germany’s “green” power.

    Research published by UNSCEAR has documented that radiation increases mammalian lifespan as much as 30% at 0.8 rad/day.  If you don’t believe this result (now close to 60 years old!), demand that funds be devoted to repeating the experiment.  If you won’t believe data, you have no business asking anyone to believe you.

  10. What caused TMI, the inability of the operators to directly see reactor core water level. It was a design defect. The core water level wasn’t instrumented up and seen in the control room.

    Basically there was weak connections of knowing the core water level was thru reading the pressurizer water level …it was too complex interpreting pressurizer water level from knowing what the vessel water level was with the limited information given to the operators.

    I bet you it was a miscalculation of risk at the heart of it and based wasting money on instrumenting up the vessel water level…budget issues with time and money.

    The lesson is in all our big accidents…our perception of risk seen in our calculation basically bum dopes the operators. It holds true to with Fukushima…risk perspectives are very dangerous and extremely susceptible to miscalculation.

  11. Good points Garry. Klein’s ‘no bozos’ allowed rule will not be implemented any time soon as Stephen Burns, the new NRC Chairman, has an impressive anti nuclear record and non existence of competence to match. Wee all saw what he did in Japan regarding the evacuation zone. He wanted to show he could draw an 80 mile circle on a map.

    The focus of the NRC for the next decades will be to put all its focus on finding ways to make it really ‘safe to death’ to decommission perfectly fine nuclear plants with matching jobs and budgets. That’s the future for the NRC, there is no safe plant but a closed nuclear plant.

  12. I read the entire report… and not once did I see even a MENTION of a measurement of radioactivity… Do engineers still work at the NRC? Do you need engineers?

    Our tax dollars are not going to pay for glossy reports full of personal feelings about nuclear non-events. Your jobs are to collect facts and ensure nuclear safety through appropriate regulation. Please, I beg of you, cut out the emotional schlock.

    How many people died from radiation exposure?
    How many expected cancers will there be?
    How can such exposures be limited in the future?
    Should we consider eliminating Zirconium in lieu of Molybdenum as cladding?

    This report purports to be expert analysis but is in fact emotional opinions…

    Please complete the following sentence:

    Opinions are like _________.

  13. wow!! $70 million for an incident that resulted in health effects that could not be discerned from background levels of cancer…

    I would like $50,000 for the psychological harm that fukushima caused me, as well as compensation for all the hours I have spent reading about it on the internet!!!

  14. Mr. Scott Burnell,
    The “report” you cite and link to in this blog post has this quoted from page two:
    “1) Ensure that the nuclear industry and the NRC are
    prepared for the unexpected.
    The team came back from Japan with the overwhelming need
    to ensure that the nuclear industry and the NRC are prepared
    for the unexpected. Although the agency recognized the
    importance of preparing for the unexpected within days
    of the accident, the experiences and insights that the team
    gained on this trip reemphasized its significance. The Daiichi
    Units 1 and 2 shift manager during the accident told the
    team that he and the other operators at Daiichi “had been
    trained and were convinced that what happened could have
    never happen[ed].” He further stated, “What we saw was
    much worse!” At the 2009 30th anniversary of the accident
    at TMI, Edward Frederick, the TMI Unit 2 reactor operator
    who turned off the makeup pump that partially caused the
    accident, stated that “the entire industry, NRC included, [were]
    completely unprepared for what…happened” at TMI. The
    accidents at TMI and Fukushima reinforce a common insight
    that the nuclear industry and the NRC must prepare for the
    unexpected by accomplishing the following:
    • Recognize and accept that the unexpected can occur
    and remain vigilant to identify and address previously
    unrecognized hazards and vulnerabilities, and address
    these hazards and vulnerabilities in a timely manner.”

    I would like to know why the paraphrased words of Mr. Ed Frederick don’t include the rest of what he said at that 2009 conference and specifically his clear message to the NRC? Where he clearly blames you (NRC) for the failure to recognize the significance of the four TMI2 precursor events, and adds that the training was wrong for the event as both the PWR industry and the NRC understood it. From my listening of his videotaped presentation he clearly indicates you, NRC, blew it. TMI2 was 100% preventable and you, NRC, were the common denominator for the reporting of the precursors and you clearly dropped the ball.

    Why did you precede Mr. Frederick’s comment with “that partially caused the accident”? That is a false statement. Turning off HPI contributed to the severity of the accident, but was not the cause, even in a “partial” sense. The cause was because Mr. Frederick did not have the benefit of the knowledge of the four precursors, especially the Davis Besse September 24, 1977 event. Is that Mr. Frederick’s fault too? Please explain how? Please explain how we Davis Besse operators who also turned off HPI in the same sequence is Mr. Fredericks fault. Please explain how the two Westinghouse precursors (one table top and one actual event) also resulting in no HPI flow early in the event is Mr. Frederick’s fault?

    Even your first bullet point above is not true in the sense that what happened at TMI2 was not a “previously unidentified hazard.” How much clearer can it be stated than in the words of Mr. Carl Michelson of TVA that the then misunderstood event response would likely lead operators to (mistakenly) terminate HPI? Who was he talking to when he made these comments… Mr. Frederick?

    Mr. Brunell, I understand that you did not write the report you referenced, but you are using it to back up your message and it includes a derogatory statement about Mr. Frederick, added by the report writers. While at the same time it excludes some very clear messages to the NRC by Mr. Frederick, which they chose to ignore in the report. This bothers me, a lot, as just why should I believe anything out of the current NRC when more than 35 years after the fact you still can’t acknowledge the part the NRC contributed to the TMI2 accident. And worse, you reference a report that uses the name and a “cherry picked partial quote” of one of the victims of TMI to try to tell me you will do the right thing in the US relative to the Fukushima accident.

    You see, the reasons for my comment are in fact related to the Fukushima event. The words of Admiral Rickover, when discussing his reasons for moving the navy nuclear program outside of the conventional navy program still ring true. He said it was not possible to actually change an embedded corporate culture. Rather you had to build a new culture around a new appropriate set of values and people. And that current embedded culture of the current NRC is “TMI2 was not our fault.”

    You had your “collision at sea”, you still refuse to take responsibility for it, and no one at the NRC ever had to suffer the consequences. The consequences of your refusal to admit the real “root cause” of the TMI2 accident are not missed by this commenter. Because you never identified the root cause, the regulatory burden that was added focused on a lot of questionable changes, especially focused on plant hardware. You broke the bank of several plants mid-construction and basically killed new starts for several decades. Just how does adding a hardware Anticipatory Reactor Trip System (ARTS) to a PWR address the root cause of training wrong for a leak in the steam space of a pressurizer and the NRC failure to understand generic significance of the Davis Besse event when it was screaming in your face?

    And now the report you cite for the NRC follow up to Fukushima, which includes guidance for the Fukushima Steering Committee, includes a reminder that TMI2 was not the NRC’s fault either, but trust us, we’ll be on top of the right fixes for Fukushima. Color me at least skeptical. And I really think you need to listen carefully to Mr. Frederick’s whole videotaped message, carefully. And then ask yourself, exactly why those report writers felt a need to include the statement about Mr. Frederick? You have a corporate culture problem sir. Mr. Frederick’s video can be found here: http://capture.jrc.ec.europa.eu/mna/three_mile_island.html, scroll to page bottom for the videos.

    With my reading of current energy news, several plants are on the cusp of profitably, for a lot of reasons. My fear is your emotional reactions to observing destruction from a 9+ earthquake and a 50′ tsunami, and blaming the current resulting remaining problems on nuke plants is going to cause history to repeat.

    Michael J Derivan

  15. The problem is embracing a power source where the population is under a constant threat of evacuation because of an accident.

    If nuclear power is safe, let the nuclear industry pay the full cost for their insurance instead of relying on the Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act.

    As a foot note – $70 million was paid to claimants related to the Three Mile Island Accident.

  16. Mr. Greenidge, the links are listed along with footnote references which are contained in the article links. You proceed into personal attacks and fallacy instead of discussion of the articles in the links listed.

  17. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) supports nuclear power and the development of more expensive dangerous nuclear power, not accurate scientific evidence for the purpose of protecting human life.

    The quote, “the predicted risks are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated,” said WHO,” is a fallacy in support of nuclear power. The support for this intentional deceit is alarming and serves one purpose, facilitation of increasing nuclear power production in the face of a serious nuclear disaster. These reports are further examples of a failure in Human Reliability and the nuclear industry’s penchant for deceitful practices.

  18. “There were considerable infant mortality increases as a result of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, this fact is well documented.”

    I’m not treasure hunting the web for bogus claims. I highly suggest that you cough up that “documentation” you found here yourself so I can repost it to major health and biomedical sites and see what they say. That’s a very serious accusation of FUD to misled the public by, tanamount to crying fire in a theater.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  19. “Daniel
    We can slice it and dice it anyway we want, the NRC showing the destruction that happened in Japan and linking it to anything nuclear is dishonest…..”

    Actually in the media such is far more like criminal mass deception and willful disinformation, like Tokyo TV passing off video-bytes of burning and exploding oil facilities as Fukushima related and getting away with it with gusto. Unfortunately nuclearphobic mass media are very keen on exploiting public ignorance and fear and science illiteracy with videos “suggesting” tsunami damage is broken reactor related. I’m not being harsh calling it public ignorance. I’m sure if you asked a person on the street in Tokyo or New York how many were killed by Fukushima, the responses would be dismaying for the credibility and accuracy and impartiality of the media all over. Fukushima is a lot like Rosewell NM; lots of credence and attention given to wild pseudo-professional speculations and rumors and bogus “evidence” without a smidgen of far more down-to-earth mundane critical truth.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    .

  20. Thanks for this report and the visit that it is based on..

    For a thorough international scholarly overview (from 2011), the following is a nice companion to this report, “Reflections on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, Toward Social-Scientific Literacy and Engineering Resilience.” http://www.springer.com/engineering/energy+technology/book/978-3-319-12089-8

    While I’m sure their was trip sobering, it is also important to remember that,
    (a) “for the general population in wider Fukushima prefecture, across Japan and beyond “the predicted risks are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated,” said WHO.” http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_WHO_Low_radiation_risk_from_Fukushima_2802131.html
    &
    (b) as of May 2013, “the most extensive international report to date has concluded that the only observable health effects from the Fukushima accident stem from the stresses of evacuation and unwarranted fear of radiation.” This report is by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Fear_and_stress_outweigh_Fukushima_radiation_risk_3105131.html

  21. @ Engineer-Poet,

    With the heavy gears on, the NRC has a better chance of catching nuclear plant employees failing the various smell tests that they brilliantly created to sustain their own employment.

    Believe it or not, some nuclear plant employees failed those NRC smell tests and the operator suffered the consequences.

  22. @Perdajz,

    We can slice it and dice it anyway we want, the NRC showing the destruction that happened in Japan and linking it to anything nuclear is dishonest.

  23. The documents cover is a rosy color, are officials at the NRC viewing nuclear risk and human reliability through Rose Colored Glasses?

    There is a good and bad side to the “Reflections From Fukushima.” Good side – the licensee of nuclear plants and the regulator appear to understand that all involved in nuclear operations must be constantly vigilant for the unexpected event or disaster. The problem, I’m not convinced that all within the nuclear industry actually believe this philosophy, nor do they recognize the intentional deceit and future health risks as a result of this disaster. . “Happy Talk” and denial does not does not resolve problems.

    Several recognized the extent of radiological contamination which occurred; the NRC maintains there were no deaths as a result of the core meltdowns and release of radiological contaminants. This completely ignores, and was not mentioned, the long term health effects of radiological contamination. Cancer does not kill immediately, the learned individuals of the NRC know this to be a fact, but none state the fact or express this concern in their report.

    In the previous video of the NRC’s trip to Fukushima not one person mentioned what actually happened to the nuclear reactors in the disaster, 3 nuclear reactor core meltdowns. This time around at least one person mentioned this fact, that was David Skeen. The others talked a good talk and expressed concerns, but other than David Skeen no one actually stated the fact that nuclear reactors melted down releasing radiological contaminants into the environment.

    Unfortunately, years later there is a failure of the NRC to grasp the realities of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster as it relates to nuclear power in the United States: 1) Cancer is a high risk as a result of radiation contamination extending for years in the exposed population. Deception and denial of the risks of nuclear power to human health and our economy is a failure of human reliability. 2) Although preparedness has increased, awareness of the health and economic risks are not discussed. There appears to be denial or intentional censorship of the health and economic risks. 3) A complete denial is evident that the Japanese government threatened retaliation, even arrest, of anyone who directly discussed the events and hazards of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, classifying it as a state secret. The Japanese Secrecy Act is perhaps the most threatening of all actions relating to the Fukushima disaster. We must rely on the press and informed, concerned citizens to inform us of the truth relating to the Fukushima disaster. http://www.japanfocus.org/-Lawrence-Repeta/4086

    TEPCO has demonstrated they are not reliable, they will intentionally deceive to protect their financial bottom line instead of the people of Japan. The Japanese Government appears to be complicit in TEPCO’s actions and supportive of deceit. No where does the NRC mention this fact.

  24. To say and use the article at the link, which you and others have used previously, which says radon is associated with lower rates of cancer is beyond ridiculous, it is a lie. Radon is the second largest cause of deadly lung cancer, smoking of tobacco is first. Your continued use of the fallacy that radon reduces cancer rates demonstrates unreliability and fallacy in your comments. http://www.epa.gov/radon/healthrisks.html

    There were considerable infant mortality increases as a result of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, this fact is well documented. Unfortunately, the nuclear industry and the government entities supporting the fallacy have intentionally lied about this fact for the sole purpose of placing money of the nuclear industry before human life. Links about TMI: article by Dr. Earnest Sternglass – http://www.ratical.org/radiation/KillingOurOwn/KOO14.html and UNC Epidemiology study http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/feb97/wing.html

    Supporters of nuclear power who place forward a false mantra of money before human life are a threat to security and reliability within the nuclear industry.

  25. I agree with much of your tone Daniel, and am glad to see.it. By all means take in the technical lessons to be had, but please skip the melodrama and self-flagellation that the nuclear industry embraces at the urging of its regulator. If there is ever a 9.0 earthquake followed by a 50 ft tsunami in my area, the local NPP will be the least of my worries.

  26. Cindy Rosales-Cooper, at least, seems to have noticed part of a problem that needs urgent attention before an incident occurs, rather than uttering stupidity like “we cannot allow this to occur” and refusing to think about it:
    I was extremely saddened when I learned that approximately 1,600 of these evacuees died, not because of the earthquake, tsunami, or even the nuclear accident, but simply because the shelters were not prepared to provide for their physical and mental needs. Many of these deaths were elderly people who died within weeks to a month after the disaster. This additional tragedy leaves me with a sense of urgency that more attention needs to be paid to offsite consequences. Although I recognize that the NRC’s regulatory responsibility is limited beyond the site boundary, we owe it to the public to ensure that lessons like these are shared and properly implemented with the Federal, State, and local authorities responsible for evacuees and shelters. I cannot help but pause and think that a majority of these 1,600 people lost their lives at places that they were told to go to in order to save their lives.

    Evacuation policy is effectively non-existent. The few words on it that exist completely fail to acknowledge the costs and risks involved in not only the evacuation process itself but the continued forced absence and the closedown of economies, communities and networks.

    Evacuation is a drastic step, and should only be undertaken in the face of drastic threats, which the low-level radiation from Daiichi did not and does not pose for the vast majority of the people who were displaced. Clear guidelines on this could have saved not only some of these lives but the well-being and prosperity of tens of thousands of people.

    Closing down the other nuclear reactors in Japan has been a similarly unbalanced action. Bringing a new regulatory regime into action did not require stopping the massively valuable flow of energy into the Japanese economy. I fully expect to see absolutely no evaluation of the damage done by this misguided step.

  27. This has become unrelenting pressures [sic] to reduce safety

    Regulation and the cost of regulation does not equal safety.  As an example, I recall a complaint on Rod Adams’ blog by a plant operator whose workers are required to wear very heavy “protective” clothing which makes it dangerous for them to climb to the places where work must be performed.  For a negligible (likely zero) improvement in radiological risk, NRC “ALARA” regulations place them at much increased risk of falling.  And of course there is more cost for the clothing, more time in planning the work, and less work accomplished per hour, driving up the cost of running the plant.

    These workers are willing employees.  They’re informed of the risks.  But they’re not allowed to choose their tradeoffs; the NRC requires ALARA for radiation, even if total risk is considerably higher.

    Meanwhile, natural gas from the Marcellus shale burned in New York cooking ranges delivers radon directly into people’s kitchens.  Generating nuclear electricity to replace those gas ranges with electric would eliminate that radon.  Why isn’t THAT considered one of the radiological risks that the NRC should minimize?  Oh, right:  it wouldn’t hobble the nuclear industry against its fossil-fuel competition, but the reverse.

    As it turns out, domestic radon is associated with lower rates of cancer, not higher:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315166/

    The USA has had exactly zero off-site deaths attributable to commercial nuclear power plants, including Three Mile Island.  That includes NPPs designed before the NRC was established.  On the other hand, there are thousands of fatalities per year associated with the mining, transport, and combustion of coal and the disposal of its products.  If the NRC was truly about safety overall, it would be promoting the replacement of as much coal-fired electric generation with nuclear as is practical.

  28. Does the report document the fact that hundreds of Japanese died just from being forced from their homes w no idea when, if ever, they would be allowed to return?!

  29. It you really meant what the senior managers said:

    You would reevaluate how the Republicans and their “K” street cohorts intervene with the NRC… why does support for the nuclear industry always equate as a reduction in regulations and safety? There have been recent intense financial pressures to reduce regulations/ safety and it is only is going to get worst.

    • Ensure that the NRC maintains a regulatory culture that does not disincentivize operators/industry to make improvements.

    This has become unrelenting pressures to reduce safety and there just isn’t a countervailing equivalent force who is in on the plant level…can see what the NRC and licensees see. Have adequate resources like all the other players, and equivalent experience and technical education who can challenge the NRC, licensees and nuclear industry’s self-interested perspectives. I talking about a safety adocate. All I want is a fair fight. All I want is you to see the world through multiple perspectives…not a mono culture.

    “Prepare for the unexpected”: I would like everyone to consider the deleterious effects of reduced safety equipment availability, increasing toleration of operational equipment deterioration and the demoralization of nuclear plant employees over risk perspective. You people don’t even consider there may be negative affects caused by risk perspective. I’ll make the case risk perspective is mostly based on poorly supported assumptions, never facts and engineering evidence. And everyone in the industry goes into a “takes no prisoner” war stance with outsiders questioning the flaws in risk perspectives…like it doesn’t give enough incentives to prevent licensee from making the same mistakes over and over again. I see a substantial plant accident in our future based on improper and assumptions risk perspectives.

    I’d ask the question if the Japanese depressionary “lost decade” and their prolonged national economic stagnation led to political and economic insecurely…don’t you dare ask questions about our electric utility sector or nuclear industry because our economy is so poor and teetering over cliff?

    More like “altruism abuse” or doing-good corruption…sugar coating risk perspectives in order to pursue self-interest.

    River Bend is my example:

    http://steamshovel2002.blogspot.com/2014/12/river-bend-why-are-all-these-components.html

    By the way, your Fukushima write up is one of the best articles I’d ever seen out of the NRC. I hope you good words get translated into communications and actions.

  30. William ‘Bill’ Dean should get himself for Xmas a dictionary and learn the difference between what an incident is versus a devastating accident. When no one dies due to radiation from such a nuclear event, it should be called an incident.

    When the Daiichi nuclear reactors are decimated from a violent earthquake followed by an unprecedented tsunami and that a few miles away, still in Fukushima, the Daiini reactors are left intact the NRC should ponder on what they think causality is and apply across their structure former NRC Chairman Dale Klein’s ‘no bozos’ allowed rule for employment at the NRC.

    And most of the land comprised within the evacuated zones surrounding the reactors are safe and always have been. Eating a bag of potato chips every day exposes me to more radiation that most of the evacuees, yet I live free and can enjoy the comfort of my house with no undue stress and duress.

    William, close but no cigar. Really.

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