Outline of the Fukushima Daiichi Accident. Lessons Learned and Safety Enhancements
Nuclear Regulation Authority, Japan
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
Published online: 25 September 2017
Abstract. On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunamis off the Pacific coastline of Japan’s Tohoku region caused widespread devastation in Japan. As of June 10, 2016, it is reported that a total of 15,894 people lost their lives and 2,558 people are still unaccounted for. In Fukushima Prefecture, approximately 100,000 people are still obliged to live away from their homes due to the earthquake and tsunami as well as the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
On the day, the earthquake and tsunami caused severe damages to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (NPS). All the units in operation, namely Units 1 to 3, were automatically shut down on seismic reactor protection system trips but the earthquake led to the loss of all off-site electrical power supplies to that site. The subsequent tsunami inundated the site up to 4 to 5 m above its ground level and caused, in the end, the loss of core cooling function in Units 1 to 3, resulting in severe core damages and containment vessel failures in these three units. Hydrogen was released from the containment vessels, leading to explosions in the reactor buildings of Units 1, 3 and 4. Radioactive materials were released to the atmosphere and were deposited on the land and in the ocean.
One of the most important lessons learned is an importance to prevent such large scale common cause failures due to extreme natural events. This leads to a conclusion that application of the defense-in-depth philosophy be enhanced because the defense-in-depth philosophy has been and continues to be an effective way to account for uncertainties associated with risks. From the human and organizational viewpoints, the final report from the Investigation Committee of the Government pointed out so-called “safety myth” that existed among nuclear operators including TEPCO as well as the government, that serious severe accidents could never occur in nuclear power plants in Japan.
After the accident, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) was established on September 19, 2012. The NRA very urgently developed and issued the new regulatory requirements on July 8, 2014, taking into the account the lessons learned from the accident. It is noted that the NRA issued the Statement of Nuclear Safety Culture on May 27, 2015 which clearly expressed the NRA’s commitment to break with the safety myth.
This paper briefly presents the outline of the Fukushima Daiichi accident and summarizes the major lessons learned having been drawn and safety enhancements having been done in Japan for the purpose of giving inputs to the discussions to be taken place in the Special Invited Session “Fukushima, 5 years after”.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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