Governments, regulators and nuclear power plant operators can act upon the lessons of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in 2011 to continuously enhance safety, said experts at a 17 September event held during the IAEA General Conference. The event introduced ‘The Fukushima Daiichi Accident – Report by the Director General and Technical Volumes’ to Member State representatives, conference delegates and the media.
“This report will be valuable to all countries using or planning to use nuclear power in their continuous efforts to improve safety,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in his opening remarks.
The report and the technical volumes it draws on provide lessons from the accident and a knowledge base for the future.
“The motto that you need to expect the unexpected is essential and needs to be ingrained in operators, regulators, but also at the level of government,” said Denis Flory, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of Department of Nuclear Safety and Security in introducing the report. Click here for the full presentation.
Co-chairs of the five working groups that had prepared the technical volumes presented the key highlights of their respective volumes to the audience.
Technical Volume One: Description and Context of the Accident
This volume describes the key events that happened before, during and after the accident based on objective and factual information. It also describes the site, the reactor designs, the structure of the nuclear industry in Japan and the Japanese regulatory framework at the time of the accident. It depicts in detail the earthquake, the tsunami, the events at the plant, and the actions taken there and elsewhere for post-accident management up to December 2014.
See the presentation by Ramzi Jammal, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and Co-chair of the working group that prepared the volume.
Technical Volume Two: Safety Assessment
The volume evaluates how the design of the reactors was assessed for protection against external events such as earthquakes and a tsunami. The accident management provisions are also considered along with the effectiveness of the regulatory programme, the human and organizational factors and the safety culture.
See the presentation by Anthony Ulses, Senior Safety Officer at the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Security, and Co-chair of the working group that prepared the volume.
Technical Volume Three: Emergency Preparedness and Response
The volume describes the key events and emergency response actions from the onset of the accident on 11 March 2011 until 1 April 2012. It provides insights into the relevant parts of the national emergency preparedness and response system in place at the time of the accidents and related response actions. The international response to the accident is described, including that of the IAEA and other relevant international organizations.
See the presentation by Dana Drabova, Chairperson of the State Office for Nuclear Safety in the Czech Republic and Co-chair of the working group that prepared Technical Volume Three.
Technical Volume Four: Radiological Consequences
The volume describes the consequences associated with the release of radioactive materials during the accident for people and the environment. The assessments build on the work of a number of international organizations that have already issued authoritative reports on the potential health and environmental consequences of the accident, notably the World Health Organization and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.
See the presentation by Abel J. González, Vice President of Argentina’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority and Co-chair of the working group that prepared Technical Volume Four.
Technical Volume Five: Post-accident Recovery
The volume deals with the recovery stage following the accident and provides a description and analysis of the initial recovery actions and looks ahead to further recovery activities. The on-site and off-site recovery efforts following the emergency phase of the accident are described, including the remediation of contaminated areas; the stabilization of the damaged reactors, leading towards their eventual decommissioning; the effective and safe management of the resulting contaminated material and radioactive waste, leading to their ultimate disposal; and the re-establishment of infrastructure and the revitalization of communities.
See the presentation by Geoff Williams, Manager of Radioactive Waste Safety at the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and Co-chair of the working group for the preparation of Technical Volume Five.
Looking to the future
“The IAEA’s work of supporting Member States in the enhancement of nuclear safety continues,” said Gustavo Caruso, Special Coordinator of the Nuclear Safety Action Plan, in his closing remarks. “The observations and lessons from this accident will be the basis to further improve nuclear safety, emergency preparedness and response, and radiation protection worldwide.”
Mr Amano had announced in 2012 that the IAEA would prepare an authoritative, factual and balanced assessment of the accident, addressing both its causes and consequences. The report is the result of an extensive collaboration that involved some 180 experts from 42 IAEA Member States and several international bodies. The Report by the Director General and the five technical volumes will be of use to national authorities, international organizations, nuclear regulatory bodies, nuclear power plant operating organizations, designers of nuclear facilities and other experts in matters relating to nuclear power, as well as the wider public.