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U.S. NRC chief urges Japan to increase generators to prepare for nuclear accidents

  • 2016-03-08 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: March 6, 2016 – p. 35)


 March 11 marks the fifth anniversary of the unprecedented accident involving a series of nuclear meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Yomiuri Shimbun asked U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Stephen Burns about the lessons learned from the accident and issues for the future. The following is his response:


 The most important lesson we learned from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster is about measures to prepare for nuclear accidents that exceed the scope of expectations. Individual nuclear power plants have strengthened their precautions by increasing the number of emergency electric generators and pumps so that they can flexibly respond to unanticipated situations. In the United States, the electricity industry has adopted a system to provide each power plant with generators within 24 hours in the worst-case scenario by setting up “regional response centers” in two locations. Industrial associations have standardized pipe connecting ports for hoses and other equipment.


 It is not surprising that attention is focused on restoring the public’s confidence in nuclear generation following the accident.


 The same thing happened in the U.S. in 1979 after the Three Mile Island accident. At that time, the people’s confidence was restored by improving emergency response measures, including evacuation plans for accidents.


 At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the treatment of water containing tritium is now a problem. The U.S. dealt with the Three Mile Island accident by evaporating such water. Soon or later, Japan will have to make a decision on how to dispose of contaminated water through discussions with people in the fishery industry.


 In light of the Paris agreement reached late last year on measures to prevent global warming, nuclear power generation has attracted a lot of attention. We have been working on regulations, focusing on ensuring safety and maintaining the people’s confidence. (Slightly abridged)

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