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Home arrow Environment arrow Reflections on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident

IV Reflections by Students and Mentors

Students' Reflections

Beth Cary

Abstract Sixteen essays written by the students who participated in the PAGES 2011 Summer School are presented. They were written stimulated by the lectures and students' discussions during the Summer School. Their essays focus on issues observed at the interface between technology and society, such as risk/cost versus benefi rationality and irrationality, communication, and the role of nuclear engineers.

Keywords Students' essays PAGES 2011 summer school GoNERI Interface between technology and society Roles of engineers

Format for Students' Discussion at the Summer School

When the 2011 PAGES Summer School was organized, the central consideration was providing students with sufficient time and guidance for discussions. It was deemed crucial to make students' discussions integrative and free of stereotypical perceptions from their own fields.

Morning discussions spanned 30 min, and afternoon sessions included a 90-min “reflection and discussion” slot. In these latter sessions, discussants were designated to lead the discussion; three postdoctoral researchers, Dr. Mary Sunderland, Dr. Robert A. Borrelli, and Dr. Takuji Oda, took on this role, as well as contributing chapters to this book. They encouraged interaction among participants by proposing points to be explored and steering discussion as needed. Table 17.1 is the list of lectures and lecturers. Stemming from these lectures, students were encouraged to join in discussion with their fellow students and lecturers.

Table 17.1 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 in 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 the 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 (10 CFR50.109 in the U.S.) which establishes the types of changes that a national regulatory authority can require for 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

Table 17.1 (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 complex system?

2. What is the way for strengthening regulatory capacity? Or how to keep civilian nuclear regulatory power without military use (which provide 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 happened during wartime mobilization?

2. How 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, 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?

Table 17.1 (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

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.

The four days of lectures and discussions then culminated in student presentations on Friday, August 5. The self-organized student groups gave presentations about their questions and answers and received feedback from lecturers and other participants. The summer school closed with a session of refl

by the lecturers and organizers and a general discussion with the student participants.

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.

The rest of this chapter consists of essays written by the participating students. Note that some of these essays may seem ambiguous and confusing, which results from two reasons. One obvious reason is that some students were not native English speakers. The Editor has tried to reduce this kind of ambiguity. The second and more fundamental reason is because of the complexity and ambiguity inherent in the topics themselves. The Editor intentionally left this type of ambiguity. Actually, these two kinds of ambiguity are not so clearly separable. The Editor hopes to have accomplished this complex task, and to successfully convey to the reader the students' struggles to seek their answers.

 
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