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ERMC Includes Update on FUKUSHIMA Reactor/Earthquake & Tsunami

The emergency management community and the world at large were held spell bound on March 11th, 2011 when north eastern Japan was struck by a massive 9.0 Richter scale earthquake along with a trailing tsunami.  The scale of the earthquake and the size of the tsunami waves – estimated at over 38 meters high in some spots, resulted in catastrophic impacts.

While the civilian, property and environmental costs have been tremendous, the ongoing issues with the Fukushima Nuclear Power Generating facility have remained in the forefront of the news.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently released a short preliminary report on the Fukushima facility.  While the entire report bears reading, some key findings that we feel are critical to highlight are outlined below.  Note: that this by no means a complete summary of the recommendations nor the report.

ERMC has included our own comments in brackets { } for consideration from the reader.  When you review the points made, ask yourself, “How your own organization would rate when evaluated against these points?”

  • The Japanese Government’s {My organization’s} longer term response to protect the public, including evacuation, has been impressive and extremely well organized. A suitable and timely follow-up programme on public and worker exposures and health monitoring would be beneficial.

  • The tsunami {Extreme Weather} hazard for several sites was underestimated. Nuclear {Facility} designers and operators should appropriately evaluate and provide protection against the risks of all natural hazards, and should periodically update these assessments and assessment methodologies in light of new information, experience and understanding.

  • Defence in depth, physical separation, diversity and redundancy requirements should be applied for extreme external events, particularly those with common mode implications such as extreme floods.

  • Nuclear {Process} regulatory systems should address extreme external events adequately, including their periodic review, and should ensure that regulatoryindependence and clarity of roles are preserved in all circumstances in line with IAEA {Industry Best Practices and} Safety Standards.

  • Severe long term combinations of external events should be adequately covered in design, operations, resourcing and emergency arrangements.

  • The Japanese accident demonstrates the value of hardened on-site EmergencyResponse Centres with adequate provisions for communications, essential plant parameters, control and resources. They should be provided for all major nuclear {process} facilities with severe accident potential. Additionally, simple effective robust equipment should be available to restore essential safety functions in a timely way for severe accident conditions.

  • Hydrogen risks {Specific hazards for specific sites} should be subject to detailed evaluation and necessary mitigation systems provided.

  • Emergency arrangements, especially for the early phases, should be designed to be robust in responding to severe accidents.

ERMC suggests that the majority of these recommendations could apply to your own organization. Don’t hesitate to contact us directly if we can be of any assistance.

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