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Home arrow Environment arrow Reflections on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident

Aim and Design of PAGES 2011 Program

The PAGES 2011 summer school was a 5-day program that focused on the issues raised by the Fukushima Daiichi accident, in the larger context of interactions and relations between nuclear technology and society. This program was not intended to reach a single agreed-upon conclusion about the accident. Rather, we designed the program to encourage participants to develop their own philosophies, stances, and/or principles that they believed to be appropriate and responsible in the postFukushima nuclear context. These were to be based on the collected and confirmed technical facts on the accident, on social-scientific methods and approaches that enable us to think about the event more deeply and analytically, and on intensive dialogue among participants. The word “reflections” in the title of the PAGES 2011 school and the title of this book indicates our intention; it means that as participants we should not make comments or criticisms as outsiders, but instead should critically examine our past practices and thinking and subsequently change our assumptions, approaches, methods, and stances, from a position of open-mindedness.

We understood that this approach would be different from standard nuclear engineering curricula. In particular, we wanted to give an important role to the students themselves. We decided that the best way to implement this intention would be a combination of lectures and intensive facilitated discussions, leading to student presentations and individual written essays (see Part IV).

To realize this concept, we brought together 12 lecturers and 3 discussants from various fields centering on the interface of nuclear technology and society: i.e., the chemistry of radioactive nuclides in the environment, reactor physics, radiation protection, reactor design, engineering ethics, technology governance, sociology of science and technology, history of nuclear technology, and long-term energy portfolios and nuclear policy. Table 1.2 is the list of lectures and lecturers. This book includes the chapters by most of the lecturers listed in the table, though their contents are updated and reflect the discussion during the school.

Each of the first four days included two or three lectures (45 min each). On the first day (August 1), three lectures on a technical analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi accident were provided. Those sessions were intended to provide a common grounding in technical facts for all participants, as the basis for social-scientific discussions in following days.

On the second through fourth days (August 2–4), lecturers with deep knowledge and expertise in various social science disciplines and problem areas demonstrated social-scientific approaches that could be helpful in thinking about this complex and tragic socio-technical failure.

Stemming from these lectures, students were encouraged to join in discussion with their fellow students and lecturers. Morning discussions spanned 30 min, and afternoon classes included a 90 min “reflection and discussion” slot. In these latter sessions, discussants (three postdoctoral researchers took this role) encouraged interaction among participants by proposing points to be explored and steering discussion as needed.

Students formed small groups (about 4–6 people) during the group discussion/ work sessions. This grouping was undertaken by the students themselves and was based on shared interests. Students repeatedly held discussions within the groups and formulated tentative answers to some of the questions posed by lecturers, as well as other questions they found important in the larger group discussions.

To accelerate interactions among student participants, “student session” slots were scheduled for the evenings of August 2 and 3. In these sessions, the students gave oral presentations that introduced their own, often quite intensive activities after the Fukushima accident, described their thoughts regarding the event, and sought feedback from other students and lecturers.

Table 1.2 List of lecture(r)s at PAGES 2011 summer school and questions provided by lecturers

8/1

Mon.

Scientific Analysis of Radiation Contamination at the Area around the FukushimaDaiichi Nuclear Power Station, Prof. Satoru Tanaka (Univ. of Tokyo)

1. How can we improve the transmission of information?

2. How can we accelerate decontamination outside of the reactors site and people's returning home?

Physics of Fukushima Damaged Reactors and its Preliminary Lessons, Prof. Naoyuki Takaki (Tokai Univ., Japan)

1. How serious is the consequence of Fukushima accident? Consider from various views, such as the number of deaths; health risk for current and future generations; fears and inconvenience imposed on the public; impact on economy, etc. Is it unacceptable even if benefit (energy) derived from it is considered?

2. If society allows continuous use of nuclear, what attributes should a nuclear system in the new era have? Give a concrete image/concept of such a new nuclear system (e.g., reactor plant and its fuel cycle)

Radiation Safety Regulation under Emergency Condition, Prof. Toshiso Kosako (Univ. of Tokyo)

1. What do we think about the emergency workers dose limit? (Cf. Japanese regulation: 100 mSv, changed to 250 mSv during this period) What happened to the remediators' working conditions when dose limits are exceeded while working on emergency tasks?

2. What do you think about evacuation for general public under a nuclear emergency situation? (Cf. Japanese regulation: 10 km as a typical evacuation zone) What kind of arrangement is possible after using SPEEDI code? The arranged area should be circle or fan-shape?

3. What is the main reason for administration of iodine pills to children? (Japanese regulation: about 40 mg for children)

4. What kind of arrangement is effective for making surface contamination maps? Use only radiation monitoring?

5. What do you think about the radiation level for school playgrounds? What is your idea for a dose rate guideline?

6. Is it possible to remove contaminated soil by slicing off 5 cm for the decontamination of radionuclide in all areas of Fukushima prefecture?

7. What method exists for the control of foodstuffs after the accident? Please explain your idea

8/2

Tue.

Impact of Fukushima for Reactor Design Practice, Prof. Per Peterson (UC Berkeley)

1. Discuss “backfitting” policy (10CFR50.109 in the U.S.) which establishes the types of changes that a national regulatory authority can require to existing nuclear facilities. Consider analogies to policies for when existing buildings must be upgraded to meet new building code requirements, and requirements for when automobiles and consumer products must be recalled for repair or replacement. Discuss the societal tradeoffs in requiring backfitting (balance of the cost of backfitting against the benefit of improved safety). Discuss how backfitting policy might affect decisions to introduce improvements in new reactor designs

2. Considering the vertical axis of the Farmers chart for the frequency of internal initiating events, discuss the commercial risks associated with introducing different fuels and materials in new reactor designs, and how such risks can be reduced

(continued)

Table 1.2 (continued)

Ethics, Risk and Uncertainty: Reflections on Fukushima and Beyond, Prof. William

E. Kastenberg (UC Berkeley)

1. Are risk analysis methodologies robust enough to assess and manage the risk of core-melt accidents, such as at Fukushima, i.e., could the accident have been predicted or mitigated?

2. Was emergency planning and emergency response adequate enough to protect public health and safety both before and after the Fukushima accident?

3. Was there an adequate “safety culture” in place prior to and following the accident?

4. What would it take to improve the quality of risk analysis and emergency planning so that the loss of public confidence could have been avoided?

8/3

Wed.

“Failure” of Regulation and Issues in Public Policy Studies, Prof. Hideaki Shiroyama (Univ. of Tokyo)

1. Who and what mechanism should play roles for searching and integrating diverse knowledge that is necessary for managing a complex system?

2. What is the way for strengthening regulatory capacity? Or how to keep civilian nuclear regulatory power without military use (which provides fund and personnel)? Or is it possible to restructure voluntary safety capability?

3. Is it possible and effective to organize and implement nuclear safety research separated from nuclear research and development in general?

The Structural Failure of the Science-Technology-Society Interface: A Hidden Accident Long Before Fukushima, Prof. Miwao Matsumoto (Univ. of Tokyo)

1. How was the mutual relationship between success and failure in the little known but serious accident that happened during wartime mobilization?

2. What do you think is the mutual relationship between success and failure in the Fukushima accident?

3. What are the similarity and the difference between the accident during wartime mobilization and the Fukushima accident in terms of the mutual relationship between success and failure in the science-technology-society interface?

4. What do you think about possibility of detecting the cause of structural failure in advance and incorporate structural remedies, if there are any, in your design practice?

Three Mile Island and Fukushima: Some Reflections on the History of Nuclear Power, Dr. J. Samuel Walker (Former USNRC Historian)

1. What are the most important lessons of Three Mile Island?

2. To what extent would a good understanding of the lessons of Three Mile Island have been helpful in the response to Fukushima? Would they have been useful in reacting promptly and as effectively as possible to the technical failures caused by the earthquake and tsunami? Would they have been helpful in responding to media questions and public fears about the effects, real and potential, of the accident?

3. Is it ever appropriate to intentionally provide information to the public about a nuclear accident that is incomplete, overly optimistic, or misleading? If so, under what conditions?

4. How do authorities deal with the problem of providing accurate and up-to-date information when their own knowledge of the situation after a nuclear plant accident is fragmentary?

5. Are the benefits of nuclear power worth the risks?

(continued)

Table 1.2 (continued)

8/4

Thu.

Engineers in Organization, in Industry and in Society: Ethical Considerations, Prof. Jun Fudano (Kanazawa Institute of Tech., Japan)

1. Compare and contrast the Code of Ethics of the American Nuclear Society (new.ans.org/about/coe/) and its counterpart in Japan, namely, the Code of Ethics of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (aesj-

ethics.org/02_/02_03_/). Also make a list of values, in order of priority, which are stipulated in each code

2. Which ethical principles have been violated in the case of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident?

3. Reflecting on the Fukushima Accident and referring to the above codes and any appropriate ones, write your own code of ethics (cite all codes you used)

4. Explain, to laypeople, why engineers, especially, nuclear engineers, have special responsibility

Long-Term Energy and Environmental Strategy, Prof. Yasumasa Fujii (Univ. of Tokyo)

1. When should we use uranium resource in the long-term perspective of human civilization?

2. To what extent can we depend on intermittent renewable energy?

[After-dinner Talk] from Fukushima to the World: How to learn from the experience in Japan, Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki (Atomic Energy Commission of Japan)

Note Affiliations are as of August 2011

In addition to lectures by academic researchers, we were fortunate to have Dr. Tatsujiro Suzuki, then vice chairperson of the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan, as the after-dinner speaker on the evening of August 4. His talk was intended to deepen students' appreciation of the connection between academic research and the policy-making process (see Chap. 16 of this volume for the text of his speech).

The four days of lectures and discussions then culminated in student presentations on Friday, August 5. The self-organized student groups made presentations about their questions and answers and received feedback from lecturers and other participants.[1] The summer school closed with a session on reflections by the lecturers and organizers and a general discussion with the student participants.

Specific Arrangements for Educational Effectiveness

To make this educational program more focused and effective, we made several concrete arrangements before, during, and after the term of the program as listed below:

• Student applicants for this school were required to write a short essay on the root cause of the Fukushima accident[2] and to articulate what they wanted to gain from the summer school.

• The organizing committee asked lecturers to prepare five-page (at most) summaries of their lectures before the school was held. They were also asked to provide questions regarding their topics that encouraged students to think about the accident more deeply (see Table 1.2 for the questions provided). Those materials were circulated to students before the school.

• All students were required after completing the school to submit individual

essays that described their own answers to the questions they chose to focus on, based on all of the discussions they participated in, including the concluding sessions. (Some of those essays are collected in Chap. 17 of this volume.)

• Students' reflections on their learning experience, as well as feedback and sug-

gestions, were sought in an open-ended questionnaire on the concluding day of the program.

• The organizing committee asked lecturers to submit their full papers after the

completion of the school. Each discussant was also asked to write a paper that summarized the main points covered in the lectures and discussions. The committee collected these papers and used them for publication of this book.

  • [1] We created a “No Power Point” rule for these student presentations. Students were required to make oral presentations without projected computer slides. Although many students found this uncomfortable, we applied the rule in order to encourage them to speak concretely and, ideally, to present their ideas through dialogue with each other.
  • [2] The question was the following: “Outline your current thinking about the Fukushima nuclear accident of March 11, 2011. Describe the issues you see it raising for nuclear engineering professionals and for societies pursuing nuclear power. Discuss what you see as the relevant background and fundamental causes of the accident.”
 
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