Fukushima Progress, Challenges Detailed at Nuclear Energy Institute Briefing in D.C.

TEPCO’s Chief Nuclear Officer Anegawa, Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee Chairman Klein, join journalists and experts to brief international community

As the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima accident approaches, a high-level progress report was delivered by TEPCO leadership and other experts at a high-level briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The briefing was sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, whose chief operating officer, Maria Korsnick, reported on the ways in which the lessons learned from Fukushima are being applied globally to make nuclear power even safer.

Other speakers included:

・Miles O’Brien, the award-winning journalist who has produced multiple reports on Fukushima for America’s Public Broadcasting System, who reported on TEPCO’s improvements in transparency and communication.

・Dr. Kathryn Higley, Professor and Head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

・Takefumi Anegawa, TEPCO’s Chief Nuclear Officer, reported on progress at Fukushima, at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, and on the road map ahead.

・Dr. Dale Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and currently chairman of the independent board overseeing TEPCO’s implementation of the Nuclear Safety Reform Plan, reported on progress on safety and the development of a safety culture.

The session was moderated by William Martin, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy.

Progress Reported in Decommissioning, Safety

Mr. Anegawa provided a detailed report on progress at Fukushima Daiichi, with “then and now” photographs showing significant improvements at the various reactor units, tank areas, and other areas of the facility. He also reported on improvements in working conditions.

In particular, he expressed appreciation for U.S. assistance, thanking the U.S. Department of Energy and Secretary Moniz, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and many U.S. organizations and individuals, and technical assistance.

Dr. Klein discussed the significance of not only constructing new safety features at the facilities, but also embracing a strengthened “safety culture.” He said TEPCO has made “important and identifiable gains” including increased use of key performance indicators, empowerment of employees to note safety issues and act on them, the elevation of safety over arbitrary schedules, and the benchmarking of safety practices against those of other world-class companies.

O’Brien, who has visited Fukushima on multiple occasions, discussed improvements in access he has been provided to the site, praising TEPCO for its increased openness. “Part of a culture of safety is a culture of candor as well.”

Ms. Korsnick discussed how the U.S. nuclear industry has applied the experience of Fukushima to its own reactor fleet: “We’ve updated and added safety equipment, upgraded our procedures, she said, “based on well-defined lessons learned from Fukushima.”

And Dr. Higley reported on the latest research on the radiological effects of the accident, saying “We don’t expect to see any measurable effects from radiation on evacuees.”