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10 Years after Fukushima-Daiichi: International Conference on Lessons Learned Begins in Vienna


This year, 11 March, marked ten years since the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. In the ensuing days, weeks and months following the accident, the IAEA, alongside the nuclear community, sought to help the Japanese authorities manage the response and to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities globally. Now a decade later, the nuclear community is gathering to look back on lessons learned and actions taken, as well as to identify ways to further strengthen nuclear safety.

“It is so important that ten years after the accident, we would come together as a community to take stock of efforts that we have been realizing over the years and also to look, not only retrospectively in what we've been doing and the efforts that have been taking place, but most importantly on what's happening now,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, at the opening of the International Conference on a Decade of Progress after Fukushima-Daiichi: Building on the Lessons Learned to Further Strengthen Nuclear Safety. The IAEA and the Government of Japan, with support of international organizations, have been extensively cooperating in the aftermath of the Fukushima-Daiichi accident to address radiation monitoring, remediation, waste management, decommissioning and emergency preparedness.

“We must harness our combined efforts and demonstrate to the sceptical world that we have learnt the lessons from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident and built a culture of never being complacent, never stop seeking to learn and improve, never stop being open and honest to those we serve. It will be a long and never-ending journey,” said Mike Weightman, President of the Conference. “However, over the last ten years, the nuclear community has made a good start on this journey.”

Mr Grossi, who participated last week in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), and Mr Weightman both underscored the safety-first culture required to maximize the benefits of nuclear in the fight against climate change. “Nuclear power can be an important part of the solution,” Mr Weightman said. “As nuclear leaders, our duty is to ensure we contribute all we can to this unique effort.”

Ambassador Takeshi Hikihara, Japan’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna, also emphasized the expansive role of nuclear energy. “The peaceful uses of nuclear energy are an essential part in many ways in the global socioeconomic growth and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said. “Nuclear technology contributes directly to no less than nine SDGs out of the 17 goals, and to deal with climate change – the most impending common issue to mankind – nuclear power has a role to play.”

This week’s conference is divided into three parts: international organizations’ perspective, learning lessons and the path forward. Sessions and panels will cover a range of topics, including ensuring the safe generation of nuclear power, emergency preparedness and response, leadership and management, communication and trust building and international legal instruments.

About 200 people convened in Vienna at the IAEA headquarters for the opening session this morning, and an additional 400 watched it online. Throughout the week-long conference, safety experts and leaders will join nuclear regulators and operators, government and industry representatives, and technical support organizations (TSOs) in policy and technical discussions.

By the end of the week, an action plan based on conclusions from the conference is expected to be presented. “The call for actions will focus on how the international community will continue to ensure and improve the safety of nuclear installations, by building on lessons learned and continuing to move forward to strengthen nuclear safety,” said Lydie Evrard, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, in her opening remarks.

Gustavo Caruso, who was the coordinator of the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety following the accident, in his remarks as Scientific Secretary of the Conference, highlighted that “the message to be carried from here is that robust nuclear safety at the national, regional and global levels is vital. The future of nuclear safety depends on all of us coming together and working for a safer future for generations to come.”

The conference is organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

More details about the conference and the programme are available here.

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