Post-Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident: Implications for Japan and the World

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Post-Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident: Implications for Japan and the World. Charles D. Ferguson President Federation of American Scientists Fermi National Laboratory Colloquium December 4, 2013. Where It All Began and Who Began It. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Post-Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident: Implications for Japan and the WorldCharles D. FergusonPresident Federation of American Scientists

    Fermi National Laboratory Colloquium December 4, 2013

  • Where It All Began and Who Began It

  • Were the Right Technological Choices Made at the Start?

  • Fukushima Daiichi Plant Design

  • Feed and Bleed and Filtered Vents

  • U.S. Nuclear Plants with Design Concerns23 U.S. Reactors with BWR Mark I type design

    Concerns raised as early as 1972 about the BWR Mark I

    Recommendations from late 1970s and early 1980s to install hardened, filtered vent system

    6 other reactors with ice condenser emergency cooling system

    Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted 90 day review of all plants

  • Three Pillars to Japans Energy Policy Prior to the F-D AccidentEnergy securityUse of market mechanisms to meet energy needsReduce greenhouse gas emissionsPrior level of and goal for nuclear powerNuclear power provided about 30% of electricityPlans for up to 50% on or about 2030Now many want phase out or at least much reduced role

  • Deep Distrust of Nuclear Village

  • Amakudari, Descent from heaven

  • Safety MythCover ups of safety violationsA few dozen violations at Fukushima Daiichi aloneWarning in 2009 about potential for massive tsunami

  • A Role for Non-Governmental Organizations: U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working GroupTrilateral partnership among the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, the Federation of American Scientists, and the Sasakawa Peace FoundationFormed in summer 2011Just recently completed last outreach in October 2013

  • Made in JapanMain conclusion of Japanese Diet Commissions report, published in summer 2012 and headed by Dr. Kiyoshi KurokawaThe accident was preventable.

  • U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working Group: Issues that must be addressed irrespective of Japans energy policy decisionsWellbeing of People Affected by the Fukushima AccidentExpeditious Decommissioning and DecontaminationCredible Strategy for Japans Plutonium StockpileGlobal Dissemination of Lessons from the Fukushima Accident

  • Broader strategic concerns within Japans energy policy debateJapans Role as a Leading International ActorGlobal Nuclear Nonproliferation LeadershipJapans Emerging Nuclear Safety RegulationsClimate ConcernsJapans Role as a Global Economic and Technology LeaderJapan as the Cornerstone of Regional Security

  • Strategic recommendations for the industries and governments of Japan and the United StatesTomodachi Energy Communities AlliancesJoint Work on Decommissioning and DecontaminationGlobal Leadership on Spent Fuel and Waste StorageMaintain U.S.-Japan Technological AdvantageCompletion of 2005 Amendment to Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear MaterialConfidence-Building Through Transparency and International ScrutinyU.S.-Japan Joint Energy Security

  • What is the Working Group Doing Now and will do in the Future?Help with exchanges between regulatory officials and Congress and Diet membersContinue with analytic workEncourage tri-national cooperation: ROK, Japan, U.S.

  • Current Activities at Fukushima-Daiichi

  • Tank Farm

  • Decontamination

  • The Need for Better Public EducationOp-Ed Contributor: David RopeikFear vs. Radiation: The Mismatch, published: October 21, 2013 Without a much broader and persistent effort by various branches and levels of government to help the public understand the actual biological effects of radiation, we will continue to face the threat of deep historic nuclear fears that simply dont match the facts.

  • Another View and Why We Need Better Public EducationExcerpts from Dr. Helen Caldicotts October 30, 2013 NYT letter in response to Ropeiks op-ed:

    Large areas of the world are becoming contaminated by long-lived nuclear elements secondary to catastrophic meltdowns: 40 percent of Europe from Chernobyl, and much of Japan.

    A New York Academy of Sciences report from 2009 titled Chernobyl estimates that nearly a million have already died from this catastrophe. In Japan, 10 million people reside in highly contaminated locations.

  • Will there always be risk?. . . there is no way to eliminate all risk entirely . . . despite all the design improvements that we conceive, systems still fail; despite all the training and lessons learned in exercises that are conducted, human beings will still make mistakes, particularly when confronted with once-in-a-lifetime events, Former NRC Chairman Richard Meserve

  • Normal AccidentsThesis of Charles Perrow, Sociologist at Yale

  • Will Fission Reactors be Phased Out?"Ive never seen a movie thats set 200 years in the future and the planet is being powered by fission reactorsthats nobodys vision of the future. This is not a future technology. Its an old technology, and it serves a useful purpose. But that purpose is running its course. Former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, as quoted in IEEE Spectrum

  • What Needs to be Done to Make Nuclear Power Safer?Building passive safety and advanced active safety systemsInstilling safety cultureAssuring independent regulationResearching better technologies and better understanding of human behaviorFactoring in Beyond Design Basis Events

  • For example, AP1000

  • Example of Enhanced Active Safety Systems, EPR

  • Reactions from Various CountriesPolls showed decrease of public supportgenerally not surprisingCountries against became more againstCountries in favor stayed in favor except for Japan, which reversed its positionU.S. still in favor but economics are the main problem for new nuclear plantsPositive sign: Beijing temporarily halted construction in 2011 needs to deal with safety gapChina seemed to be building too fast and had not kept pace with training high quality workforce

  • Tale of Two Countries

  • Reversal of the ReversalSoon after accident, German Chancellor Merkel reversed previous reversal that had extended life of reactors.In April 2011, unveiled 6 point plan to phase out nuclear power in 10 years

  • Is the German Plan Smart for Japan?Germany can buy electricity from and sell to other grid-connected European countries, including France with almost 80% of electricity from nuclear powerIn summer and winter, France typically imports from Germany and vice versa in spring and fall.Japan is not grid connected to other countries.Unlike Japan, Germany still has significant deposits of coal although this brown coal is especially dirtyGermany has a natural gas pipeline network to other countries

  • Spent Nuclear Fuel PoolsMost of the almost 70,000 tons of spent U.S. nuclear fuel stored in deep pools of waterMany other countries in similar situationNo permanent storage availableCompanies reluctant to spend money on dry cask storageRemoval of SNF from Fukushima reactor #4 started in November

  • Dry Cask StorageEstimated $3 to $5 billion to transfer all overcrowded spent fuel to dry casksGermany applies this methodUsed to a limited extent in the United States and Japan (proven at F-D)

  • Use of Plutonium-based FuelsReactor #3 at Fukushima was fueled with mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, which contains plutonium oxideJapan has invested about $28 billion in a plutonium recycling program New policy expected in Dec. 2013 or soon thereafterU.S. has refrained from reprocessing spent fuel to use plutonium since the Carter administrationBut the United States has planned to dispose of weapons-grade Pu by using MOX this may change

  • Parting Thoughts from FermiThe history of science and technology has consistently taught us that scientific advances in basic understanding have sooner or later led to technological and industrial applications that have revolutionized our way of lifeWhat is less certain and what we all fervently hope is that man will soon grow sufficiently adult to make good use of the powers that he acquires over nature.

  • Thank You Very Much for Your AttentionFor more information about the Federation of American Scientists, please see:

    For more info on nuclear energy


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