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Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster Attributed to Sheer Human Error (A Commentary)

icon2014/05/15
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 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster Attributed to Sheer Human Error

(A Commentary)

 Source: China Times

Author: Dr. Cliff Li-chi Po (濮勵志)

(CEO, Micro-Simulation Technology, New Jersey,)

May 15, 2014

Some people have juxtaposed the recent controversy over Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 with other well-known nuclear disasters, including the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster. They harbor unparalleled fears as ensuring nuclear safety has some seemingly unsolvable problems. 

In 1979, a partial nuclear meltdown occurred in one of the two Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear reactors in the United States. Afterwards, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conducted detailed research on the accident and finally published NUREG-0737, a clarification of TMI Action Plan Requirements. The document clearly listed important procedures in the event of a nuclear incident, including enhancing capabilities in operating pressure relief valves, conducting a risk probability assessment (RPA) for every nuclear power plant, constructing a simulator, and strengthening the training and prudence of all on-duty workers and engineers. 

An official investigation report into the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Japan’s Diet was formally released in 2012. Its conclusion clearly indicated that the accident was the result of human error alone, not the earthquake itself or the resulting tsunami. The report further explained that Japan’s nuclear power plants had not continued to upgrade nuclear safety measures as the other countries had. 

The Tokyo Electric Power Company had consistently ignored recommendations from the Japanese government’s nuclear regulatory agency, and it failed to enhance and upgrade its safety equipment by following the safety measures in NUREG-0737 or the new regulations issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the past 30-plus years. Obviously, senior Japanese government officials and Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency turned a blind eye to the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s failure to implement important upgrades. This is the truth behind the incident. 

Taiwan had already strictly implemented all US nuclear safety regulations in the 1980s when it began to construct its three now-operational nuclear power plants, and later even adopted an advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) design for Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 (NPP4). After the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster, Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) installed additional movable alternators, spare batteries, and water tanks. In addition to the original water tanks on the side of NPP4, there are seven layers of cooling devices. Therefore, even if a tsunami struck NPP4, it could not damage the fuel rods, let alone cause a radiation leak. Scientific knowledge does not rely on guesswork, but advances with the accumulation of pragmatic experiences. 

 

Editor’s Note: According to an assessment published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Republic of China was ranked No. 5 among 31 countries on nuclear power plant operations.

 

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