Just like the airline industry’s “black box” which is used to record and investigate plane accidents, the atomic industry needs to have a global language and standard when it comes to studying nuclear accidents. This was recommended by Kiyoshi Kurokawa who headed the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.
He says that the transparency shown by the airline industry when it comes to disasters is something that the nuclear powers should also emulate, through sharing cross-border information in preventing accidents like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown of 2011. It has been widely discussed that the “collusion” between plant operators and the Japanese government contributed to the incident, considered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Kurokawa, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy in Tokyo, said that even the relatively new nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, seems “very isolated” from both the local power industry but also from its counterparts abroad.
Kurokawa’s report, a result of a six-month investigation into the Fukushima incident, was released July of last year and was very critical of the way that both the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) acted before and after the meltdown. The report called the accident “man-made” because of the “collusion” between TEPCO and the previous regulation body, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, so that the new safety regulations would not be implemented. “Across the board, the Commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organization that deals with nuclear power,” was one of the scathing statements from the report.
Kurokawa said that despite his report being internationally acclaimed, even winning an award for him from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, domestically, he felt that the authorities largely ignored their findings and recommendations. The establishment of the NRA as an independent nuclear watchdog was one of the few suggestions that was followed through. But he says that the agency still needs more international experience and staff should learn more best practices by going abroad and learning from nuclear regulators from other countries.
[ via BusinessWeek ]