The 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was preventable. The Great East Japan earthquake and the tsunami that followed it were unprecedented events in recent history, but they were not altogether unforeseeable. Stronger regulation across the nuclear power industry could have prevented many of the worst outcomes at Fukushima Daiichi and will be needed to prevent future accidents.
In a new FAS issue brief, Dr. Charles Ferguson and Mr. Mark Jansson review some of the major problems leading up to the accident including the lack of regulation of the nuclear power industry and slow updates to safety requirements, such as using probabilistic safety assessment (PSA) methods to improve accident management plans.
Additionally, the issue brief provides an overview of proposed regulatory reforms, including an overhaul of the nuclear regulatory bureaucracy and specific safety requirements which are being considered for implementation in all nuclear power plants. These requirements including the establishment of earthquake resistant control centers, installation of filtered vents above reactor containment vessels and limitation of reactor life to no more than forty years.
Read the issue brief, “Regulating Japanese Nuclear Power in the Wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Accident” here (PDF).