Dr.Klein did a speech at ACCJ on October 28,2014
THE END OF THE BEGINNING: PROGRESS AT FUKUSHIMA AND THE ROAD AHEAD
It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve as the Chairman of TEPCO’s Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee. The Committee is an international group that meets quarterly to provide independent, candid advice – and occasionally criticism -- to TEPCO on its progress in implementing the Nuclear Safety Reform Plan adopted in 2013. We tell TEPCO what we think they should hear not always what they want to hear.
Through my many trips to Japan and the development of relationships with so many talented and dedicated people, I have gained an even greater respect and affection for the Japanese people – their determination, their resilience, their hard work ethic, and their extraordinary talents. Those of you who are Americans living in Japan have no doubt had this same experience. It really is a highlight of my career to be able to play a role in helping TEPCO and the people of Japan cope with the challenges that were posed by the Great Japan Earthquake, the tsunami, and the accident at Fukushima Daiichi.
I know that all of you care deeply about what is happening at Fukushima. Success there will help restore confidence not only in TEPCO but also in Japan’s economic progress. It will speed the revival of Japan’s nuclear power industry, which is essential to the continued reinvigoration of the Japanese economy.
And it will restore confidence and momentum to nuclear power globally, which is essential not only to the industry itself and those related to it, but to the world’s ability to develop sustainable strategies to address climate change and economic growth. The nuclear industry will learn many things as more technical information about the accident becomes available.
As you might imagine, the work that is going on at Fukushima Daiichi alone – to say nothing of TEPCO’s continuing responsibility to provide power for the 20 million or so people of the Kanto region – could easily take a few hours to describe. Don't worry – I won’t do that to you.
But what I do want to share with you in the 15 or so minutes we have today are two things: (1) a brief overview of the progress that’s been made at Fukushima along with a realistic assessment of what’s to come, and (2) some thoughts on the bigger picture.
At Fukushima, it is so easy to get bogged down into the engineering details or the periodic news reports of some technical problems, that one loses sight of the bigger picture. And the big picture is this: An important page has been turned. For the first two or three years after the accident, the focus was primarily on stabilization. It was, of necessity, an extended emergency response. The most important aspect after the accident was to keep both the fuel in the reactors and the spent fuel pools cooled and TEPCO achieved this task.
But last November, a new phase began. After extensive and remarkably innovative preparations, TEPCO – despite some very irresponsible predictions of disaster – began the safe removal of nuclear fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool of Unit 4, a reactor that had not been operating at the time of the accident but whose outer building had exploded as the result of hydrogen buildup when cooling systems failed. This hydrogen originated in Unit 3 and there were initial incorrect claims that the spent fuel in Unit 4 had melted.
The safe removal of the spent fuel from Unit 4 was an enormous milestone. It represented a shift in focus from stabilization to actual decontamination work. It represented the successful collaboration of many different organizations. And it demonstrated that TEPCO was implementing the “safety culture” that our Monitoring Committee has emphasized is so essential to TEPCO’s future – not only at Fukushima but throughout the organization. An example of this was a total work stoppage after several spent fuel assemblies were removed to evaluate what went well and where safety enhancements might be recommended. Despite dire – and I might add scientifically ridiculous – predictions of disaster, TEPCO’s fuel removal efforts have proceeded smoothly and all the fuel will be removed from Unit 4 by the end of this year. Similar preparations are underway for the removal of spent fuel from the other three damaged Units.
All of this, of course, is preparation for the main event: the eventual removal of the fuel debris that melted in Units 1, 2, and 3. As you have no doubt read, that is an effort without precedent, and it will require great care, great ingenuity, and great safety preparations.
Indeed, organizations from Japan and the U.S. and around the world are collaborating on efforts including sophisticated robotics as we learn more about the exact condition of the fuel and the damaged containment vessels.
This will not happen overnight. TEPCO has committed to removing the debris from at least one of the three units by the end of their Fiscal Year 2020. I don’t have to remind you that’s the same year the Tokyo Olympics will focus the world’s attention on Japan. TEPCO is keenly aware of its responsibility to make progress while at the same time ensuring that the athletes and others who converge on Japan – and of course the people themselves who live near Fukushima -- will have complete confidence in their health and safety.
Full decontamination and decommissioning is expected to take between 30 and 40 years. In a world where it is difficult for business executives or government officials to think beyond the next quarter or the next election, this is an eternity. To their great credit, TEPCO and the government of Japan have, in fact, developed a long-term plan designed not only to clean up Fukushima but also restore TEPCO to economic health and ensure that it can continue to do its main job of providing safe electricity to fuel economic growth and enhance people’s lives.
A very important component of that plan is something that our committee recommended: the creation of a distinct entity within TEPCO to take responsibility for Fukushima Daiichi. Why did we believe that was so important? Because we recognized, and TEPCO’s leadership recognized, that the skills needed for long-term D&D activity are quite different from those needed to operate the rest of the company. A distinct entity would assemble the right skills, have the necessary long-term focus, and provide the essential accountability to get the job done safely.
Acting on this recommendation, TEPCO established the Fukushima D&D Engineering Company and placed at its helm Naohiro Masuda. Masuda-san, as you probably know, has been credited with his leadership in keeping the Fukushima Daini plant intact after the tsunami and brought the plant to a safe shut down condition. I believe he is bringing the vision, the leadership and focus that the work at Fukushima Daiichi requires. The D&D Engineering Company is a collaboration with Japan’s nuclear industry, and truly represents a national commitment to this long-term effort.
Because D&D will be such a long-term project, the public may become frustrated at what they perceive is a slow pace of progress. For this and other reasons, the Monitoring Committee is encouraging TEPCO to be as transparent and proactive as possible in communicating the many intermediate milestones and achievements on the road to ultimate success. This also includes transparency when plans do not go smoothly. And we have emphasized the importance of communicating this not only within Japan but to the international community as well, and with the help of a U.S.-based company TEPCO is making great strides in doing this. It is extremely important for TEPCO to have a timely communication program both within Japan and internationally.
Serious challenges remain. The most immediate challenge involves the management of water at the Daiichi site, which sits directly between the mountains and the sea. In Japan as elsewhere, water runs downhill, and until all the nuclear debris is removed from the reactor buildings – something that won’t happen for years – TEPCO will need to deal with a challenge that essentially has three parts:
(1) Preventing as much water as possible from entering the facility as possible.
(2) Preventing the water within the facility from becoming contaminated through contact with the debris or with other contaminated water; and
(3) Cleaning, and safely disposing of the contaminated water.
Any of you who have ever had a roof leak or a pipe burst or a basement flood knows what a relentless and insidious challenge water can represent. At Fukushima Daiichi, the challenge is complex. The major challenge for TEPCO is to manage the water safely and to communicate accurately the risks of this water.
Most obviously, there is the need to protect the environment, though even now the constant monitoring of seawater shows that, especially outside the mostly enclosed port area of the plant, radiation levels are extremely low and in most instances would even meet World Health Organization standards for drinking water. However, we all recognize how sensitive the issue of contaminated water is in Japan and the entire world.
But beyond the environmental and health issues, the reality is that TEPCO’s water management has taken on symbolic importance. Leaks and other mishaps, however trivial, are reported loudly in the media, contributing, fairly or not, to perceptions about TEPCO’s overall ability to manage the D&D effort.
For all of these reasons, it is essential for TEPCO to succeed in all of the categories I mentioned before – diversion, isolation, treatment, storage, and disposal – so that the water situation at Fukushima Daiichi becomes sustainable.
Make no mistake: this is a tall order. And there is no one magic bullet. Each of those three categories involves multiple approaches – groundwater bypass, physical barriers, treatment facilities, and more. In a few minutes, my colleague Dr. Lake Barrett will describe these to you in greater detail, from the perspective of someone who experienced some of these challenges when he was the senior government official involved in cleaning up Three Mile Island after the accident in Pennsylvania.
I will simply say that while progress is being made, TEPCO isn’t there yet. Contaminated water continues to accumulate at the rate of about 300-400 tons per day, a rate that must be reduced. There have been too many mishaps in handling the stored water. There have been setbacks in developing and operating the ALPS water treatment system. And I have previously expressed my reservations about how effective the frozen soil wall will be in keeping water out of the reactor building basements. But I remain hopeful that the improvements to treatment capacity along with other strategies to reduce that rate of accumulation will reduce the quantity of contaminated water.
At some point, however, Japan will have to make politically difficult decisions about what to do with the water after it has been cleaned. Storage capacity cannot be expanded indefinitely. As Lake will explain, we have a very high degree of confidence that the water can be cleaned to the point where it can be very safely returned to the ocean. But we also recognize this is a deeply divisive and sensitive issue for the people of Japan, and while we can advise on the science, only the Japanese people can decide the ultimate course of action. TEPCO and the government of Japan will need to educate the public on the real risks and they will have to counter considerable misinformation.
Now I want to turn for the last few minutes of my remarks to a discussion about the broader future for TEPCO and nuclear power in Japan. Again, this is an issue only the Japanese people can decide for themselves. But I am confident that science and the need for a balanced energy policy, one that enables Japan to meet its commitments under the Kyoto protocols, will prevail.
Approval has been given for the Sendai nuclear power plant in Western Japan to resume operations, and I believe this will pave the way for bringing more of the country’s nearly 50 idle nuclear power stations online, which will enable the country to return many old fossil-fuel burning plants to a standby status and dramatically reduce the country’s carbon emissions. In addition, the restart of the nuclear plants will reduce the extremely high volume of fossil fuel imports.
Two of those plants, of course, belong to TEPCO. Fukushima Daiini will remain in safe “cold shutdown” for the foreseeable future, but the world’s largest nuclear power station, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture on the west coast of Honshu, is being readied for a return to operation. There are many things that have been done to improve safety at KK – physical improvements, such as a higher wall to protect against tsunamis; better contingency planning, such as emergency power sources that can’t be flooded as they were in Fukushima; worker training; stronger management practices, and so on. I have visited KK several times and have been impressed by the safety enhancements implemented at this site.
But beyond all that is this concept of “safety culture,” which is so important to our Reform Committee. A nuclear safety culture is more than just the sum of all the physical improvements that have been made to KK or elsewhere within TEPCO. It is, indeed, a “culture.” It is a way of thinking and an attitude that recognizes that safety is more than following manuals or checking boxes on a checklist. It is a culture that is open to questioning. That empowers workers to speak up and express concerns. That re-examines conventional wisdom and recognizes that ensuring safety is an unending process that requires constant diligence and critical thinking. Every worker at a nuclear plant needs to think safety in all the actions they take, every day, every hour and every minute.
These qualities, frankly, did not come easily to TEPCO. And I think all of you would agree that changing the culture of any company, especially one with TEPCO’s long and proud traditions, is difficult. It does not happen immediately, and it will not happen immediately at TEPCO.
But it is clear that great progress is being made. President Hirose has on many occasions underscored and demonstrated his commitment to a nuclear safety culture. A new approach to management accountability has been put in place that emphasizes a safety culture throughout the company. Chairman Sudo, who comes to TEPCO from the steel industry, brings a commitment both to safety and the need to meet high international expectations.
To help maintain management focus on building a stronger safety culture, TEPCO has adopted another one of our committee’s recommendations: Establishment of a Nuclear Safety Oversight Office, headed by Dr. John Crofts of the U.K. and reporting directly to TEPCO’s Board. In addition, TEPCO is collaborating with international partners, including the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. nuclear plants, Britain’s Sellafield plant to the IAEA to enhance safety.
Ultimately, safety culture is not just about engineering and technology. It is about people, and I would like to conclude my remarks by talking about them.
The people of TEPCO, the people who are out there every day under difficult conditions at Fukushima, the ones working so hard to bring KK back online, the workers enduring cramped consolidated offices at headquarters in Tokyo, deserve more recognition than they have received.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, many workers who were once proud to say they worked at TEPCO found themselves ostracized. Press accounts – falsely, as it turned out – maligned the people who had heroically regained control of Fukushima Daiichi after the tsunami. But recently, this has begun to change. The media have now recognized the Fukushima workers for their courage and dedication. Those now engaged in D&D work can justly take pride in the progress they are making in fuel removal, implementing water management strategies, and in other aspects of the cleanup.
This is not only gratifying and just. It is an important component of a successful safety culture; good morale and good safety go hand in hand. For this reason, and also as a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to Japan, I cannot overstate how much Ambassador Kennedy’s visit to Fukushima Daiichi and the surrounding communities meant to the people there.
Her visit evoked an especially warm response because she is not, after all, just any ambassador. She is Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter. Her father, when he was running for president, was fond of ending his campaign speeches with the closing lines of one of Robert Frost’s best-loved poems:
“I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
So it may be said of Fukushima Daiichi. Great progress has been made, and continues to be made. But there are many miles to go. To paraphrase President Kennedy’s inaugural address, the work will not be finished in a thousand days, nor even perhaps in our lifetime. But it has begun, and I have every confidence that the Japanese people, whose rich and ancient culture measures time on a much longer scale than we impatient Americans, will see it through to the end.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE visited various places in Fukushima and spoke with local residents.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE visited various places in Fukushima with Professor Gerry Thomas (Imperial College London and Director of Chernobyl Tissue Bank, U.K.) from August 4th to 5th, 2014, and spoke mainly with local women, to ensure that they have accurate knowledge on radiation.
They participated in the local symposium about thyroid screening tests held at “Ryozen Satoyama School” in Ryozen Town, Date City, Fukushima Prefecture on the evening of August 4th. Professor Gerry Thomas explained about the effects of radiation and the results of a thyroid screening test in a manner that the residents could readily understand. They communicated with the residents to relieve their anxiety by giving them correct information.
Mr. Sakurai held a meeting with TEPCO’s Nuclear Reform Special Task Force on July 17, 2014.
Mr. Lake Barrett (Decommissioning member) held a meeting with the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company on July 17, 2014.
Mr. Lake Barrett (Decommissioning member) held a follow-up seminar on management procedure for the executives of TEPCO’s Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company on July 16, 2014.
Mr. Lake Barrett (Decommissioning member) inspected Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on July 15, 2014.
Mr. Barrett (Decommissioning member) visited various places in Fukushima and spoke with local residents.
Mr. Barrett visited various places in Fukushima with his wife, Lynn, and grand-daughter, Jessica, and spoke with local residents from May 26th to 28th, 2014. He related his family’s experience of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant accident (they lived near the TMI nuclear power plant for three years following the accident) in order to contribute to the reconstruction of Fukushima.
CREATING A FUTURE FOR FUKUSHIMA’S PEOPLE
By Lake H. Barrett
In all the attention that’s being given to the very real technical challenges being faced in the cleanup of the nuclear accident at Fukushima, it has been too easy to forget about the people who live there.
But I know what it’s like to live in the shadow of an accident at a nuclear power plant. In 1980, when I was a young government official, I moved my wife and two young sons to Central Pennsylvania, near the Three Mile Island facility, when I was given a leading role in managing its cleanup. While the two situations are not identical, and the Fukushima event is more complex and will take longer to remediate, there are important psychological parallels for the people who live nearby: the anxiety, the unknowns, and the nagging feeling that they are being used as pawns in political and policy battles over the future of nuclear energy.
My past visits to Japan, in the capacity of a technical adviser to the Fukushima plant’s owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, focused on the cleanup technical challenges. But when I went in May I went for a different reason: to connect with the people who have been affected, some of whom have been evacuated, and to bring them three things they need more of: accurate technical information, compassion, and a vision for a future of their communities.
My wife Lynn and granddaughter Jessica accompanied me. The people we met in the small, primarily agricultural towns near the Fukushima Daiichi plant impressed us with their sophisticated questions, and humbled us with their resilience and determination. Hearing their stories rekindled vivid memories of what we experienced 34 years ago at Three Mile Island. Lynn, who at the time was a childbirth nurse in the local hospital, shared the concerns of many mothers. And although Jessica wasn’t yet born in 1980, her father grew up and went to school near the shadow of the Three Mile Island cooling towers.
Before sharing more about what we heard, a quick geography lesson: The Fukushima Daiichi plant is located on the coast, and nearby are mostly small agricultural communities such as Hirono, Tomioka, and others. The plume of radioactive contamination released at the time of the accident ran generally to the northwest, affecting individual communities differently. Some residents are in the process of being resettled after full or partial evacuations. Others, like the residents of Soma City, live just outside the evacuation zone. All the residents, whether evacuated or not, also had to contend with the effects the Great Japan Earthquake that generated the tsunami and destroyed or damaged thousands of their homes.
One of our meetings was with a group of women from those towns. They were mothers, grandmothers, and expectant mothers. Like mothers anywhere, they are concerned for their children, and they are hungry for real information. Many feel that, despite TEPCO’s and the government’s efforts, they aren’t getting enough, at least not enough to counter anti-nuclear activists’ scare tactics. In fact, these people who bore the brunt of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident are now being hurt a fourth time by those whose agenda is served by portraying the residents as perpetual victims.
They asked me whether their children will be safe from radiation if they move back to their homes from the places to which they’d been evacuated. And they will. We know more about the carcinogenic effects of radiation than the effects of almost anything else, and it’s clear the exposure levels will be safe.
They also need information to counter questions – and stand up to guilt trips – from people who say that things like, “How can you possibly go back?” Or, “Your children are radioactive and can’t play with my children.” My family endured these same types of comments when we lived near Three Mile Island.
Farmers and Fishermen
I also met with rice farmers and fishermen, who asked reasonable, well-informed questions. They wanted to know where the contaminated soil removed from their towns will be deposited. The rice farmer wanted to know if his rice fields will become more contaminated by water flowing down the mountains. It won’t, partly because whatever was deposited in the soil three years ago is already decaying substantially and will continue to do so. Fisherman worried that even though their fish is rigorously tested and proven safe; there is a stigma to the name Fukushima that will discourage purchasers. These same unfortunate questions burdened the good farmers near Three Mile Island, however they faded with time as the public recognized the quality and safety of the Central Pennsylvania food products.
Others find themselves unable to fish at all, excluded from fishing in their traditional waters and equally excluded from encroaching onto fishing grounds long claimed by other fishing cooperatives. Surely a solution can be found that respects Japanese fishing traditions while doing something to ensure a future for these resilient people whose culture and economy are so closely linked to the sea.
Diligent monitoring, along with significant improvements in the control of contaminated water at the plant will protect the sea and make clear that the fish from the area’s waters are safe. My family and I ate local seafood without any concerns about its safety.
The Need for Hope
In the three years since the accident, when it comes to victims the focus has understandably been primarily on compensating them financially. But it is clear to me that proactive outreach from the government, TEPCO, and others are essential to address their need for information and emotional support. TEPCO has undertaken a long-term commitment to support the revitalization of the Fukushima area, and I urge them to include these kinds of outreach as part of that revitalization effort.
More than anything, the people of the communities affected by the Fukushima accident need hope. They need to believe that their rice fields will flourish again, their schools and workplaces will come back to life, and that their communities – in which many have lived for generations – have a future.
Hearing this from someone who had personally experienced Three Mile Island seemed to help. But it is not enough. A concerted outreach effort to the people of these communities, done in a way that respects Japanese culture and sensibilities, is essential if these determined but anxious people are to regain their confidence and their vision of a safe, prosperous, and happy future.
Dr.Klein mourns remembered Ambassador Haward Baker
Dr. Dale Klein, the former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission who currently chairs TEPCO's Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, today remembered Ambassador Howard Baker as a great friend to Japan and a supporter of nuclear energy.
Baker, who in addition to his role as U.S. Ambassador to Japan was a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, Majority Leader, and served as White House chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan, died June 26 at age 88.
Observed Dr. Klein: "Although most people justly remember then-Senator Baker for his gift at conciliation and great leadership, I was privileged to see him bring the same great personal qualities to other aspects of his public life. As Ambassador to Japan from 2001 to 2005, he represented our country with distinction and strengthened our relationship with Japan not only as a strategic ally, but as a people for whom he developed a great affection."
Dr. Klein also noted that Senator Baker believed in the importance of nuclear power as part of the strategy of both our countries to achieve energy security. The Howard Baker Forum (howardbakerforum.org) has, in fact, played a role in educating the public about nuclear energy and counteracting the misinformation that has followed the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.
The Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee that Dr. Klein chairs is a group of international experts formed to advise the plant's owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., on the efforts to reform nuclear safety culture and to decontaminate and decommission the Fukushima Daiichi facility.
"I believe Howard Baker was one of the best ambassadors we ever sent to Japan," Dr. Klein said, "because he understood that people, not politics, made the difference."
On behalf of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, we extend our condolences to his wife, Mrs. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, and to his many friends in the U.S. and Japan.
Mr. Sakurai inspected a TEPCO emergency drill on June 11, 2014.
Dr. Dale Klein and Mr. Lake Barrett (Decommissioning member) held a meeting with the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company on May 2, 2014.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting with TEPCO’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Office on April 30, 2014.
Mr. Lake Barrett (Decommissioning member) held a seminar on management procedure for the executives of TEPCO’s Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company on April 30, 2014, based on his experience dealing with the accident at Three Mile Island (TMI).
Mr. Lake Barrett held a meeting with the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company on April 29, 2014.
Mr. Sakurai held a meeting with TEPCO’s Nuclear Reform Special Task Force on April 22, 2014.
Mr. Sakurai held a meeting with TEPCO’s Social Communication Office on April 4, 2014.
Dr. Dale Klein and Mr. Lake Barrett (Decommissioning member) held a telephone conference with the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company on April 4, 2014.
Mr. Sakurai inspected a TEPCO emergency drill on March 18, 2014.
Mr. Sakurai, a member of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, discussed with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force on March 14, 2014.
Dr. Dale Klein discussed how to inculcate safety culture into the organization etc. with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force on March 11, 2014.
On March 11, 2014, Dr. Dale Klein observed silence at 14:46 on the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. He then listened to speeches by the President of TEPCO and the representative of the Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters.
Dr. Dale Klein discussed the activity plan of TEPCO’s Decommissioning Company, to be established on April 1, and the fuel debris removal plan with an officer of TEPCO’s Decommissioning department on March 11, 2014.
Dr.Dale Klein did a speech at Foreign Press Center Japan on March 11, 2014
Good morning, everyone, thank you very much for coming today. As I think you know, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Japan over the last few years, and I have come to feel very close to this country and to the Japanese people. I have been fortunate enough to work closely with TEPCO’s leadership and many other individuals in my capacity as chairman of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, and prior to that, when I was with the U.S. government, I developed many fruitful relationships with my counterparts here.
Beyond the hospitality that has been extended to me, and the personal relationships we have developed, I have been impressed by the determination of the Japanese people to meet and overcome the terrible loss from the Great Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and the challenge posed by the accident at Fukushima Daiichi.
At TEPCO, from the most senior executive to individual workers, one cannot but be impressed by their commitment not only to recovery but also to building a better, safer future.
So, even as we mark the third anniversary of the Fukushima accident and reflect on the intervening years, it is that future that I want to especially focus on, as well as the people who are so determined to make it happen. They will continue to face many challenges, and as some recent experiences demonstrate, improvements must continue to be made. But it is a future about which I am optimistic, in part because of the changes I have seen at TEPCO, but even more because of the growing recognition I have seen on the part of Japan’s people that nuclear-generated power must remain a part of Japan’s future.
A Japan that tries to survive without nuclear energy would not be the Japan of today, and certainly would not be the thriving, growing, environmentally responsible Japan that we all want to see tomorrow.
And we do want to see Japan succeed. I can tell you from my many discussions with others in the U.S., and with my colleagues from other countries such as Lady Barbara Judge, who is the deputy chair of our Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, that the world is watching.
And it wants you to succeed because people understand that if we are to successfully manage climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, nuclear power will be an important part of the mix. But they also know that public confidence in that nuclear power can be enhanced, or diminished, by what happens here.
There has been great progress on many fronts at Fukushima Daiichi over these last three years.
The hastily assembled emergency methods that were being used to cool reactors in the immediate aftermath of the accident have given way to safer and more robust systems. The safe removal of fuel from the spent fuel pool at Unit 4 was made possible by a combination of innovative design and meticulous execution by the workers of TEPCO and its partners.
Progress has been made in getting our arms around the main challenge posed by Fukushima: removal of the once-molten fuel from Units 1, 2, and 3. And they are making progress, though not yet enough, on the long-term challenge posed by groundwater. I remain concerned about the technical talent to manage the water issues and the lack of a long-term plan for the disposition of the filtered water currently stored in the tanks at Fukushima. Of all of the many issues facing us, this is perhaps the simplest to solve but creates the most public anxiety.
With all the recent focus on the management of contaminated water, and the day-to-day ups and downs of water leaks, there is a tendency to divert attention – and resources – from addressing and solving the main challenge posed at Fukushima: How do we keep the molten fuel and the spent fuel cooled and how do we safely remove molten fuel from damaged containment vessels? As most of you know, removing the kind of molten fuel that exists at Fukushima Daiichi has never been done before. At Three Mile Island, the fuel melted but the containment vessel was not breached.
And at Chernobyl, where there was no containment vessel for that graphite reactor, the Soviets just built a concrete sarcophagus around it and essentially walked away.
I do not believe that Japan will walk away from Fukushima. Everything I have learned about your values, your commitment to the environment, and your determination to meet this challenge tells me this. Success will come as the result of many small learnings, and through the persistence of many individuals acting together. We are seeing those incremental learnings now.
Through the use of robotic cameras and other high technology, and with participation of its international partners, TEPCO is learning more about the condition and location of the fuel, the condition of the containment vessels, and this will eventually lead to the development of a strategy for removing that fuel. In its new business plan, TEPCO has set a goal of removing the fuel from at least one of the three reactors by the first half of FY2020. That is six years away, yet it is an ambitious goal given the fact that no one has ever faced such a challenge before.
So the progress being made there now, incremental as it may be, is very important.
I am encouraged by the decision TEPCO has taken to create a distinct entity focused exclusively on the decontamination and decommissioning work at Fukushima. As TEPCO President Hirose has said, this will provide for greater focus on Fukushima, it will provide for greater accountability, and it will incorporate at high-levels organizations like Hitachi and Toshiba that have broad technical resources and a considerable stake in a successful outcome.
I believe it also demonstrates that TEPCO recognizes that the talents, skills and organizational structure for D&D work are not necessarily the same as those needed to run a power company. So much of what the D&D team will encounter will be things no one has ever encountered before, and it will require people with a wide range of technical abilities, diagnostic skills, and critical thinking ability. It is essential that TEPCO staff the new entity with people who have those attributes, and if you do not find the necessary technical talent in Japan that you look world-wide for the necessary talent to do it right and to do it safely.
Of course, even the most successful cleanup work at Fukushima will not by itself restore the future of nuclear energy – and with it, Japan’s energy and economic future. While continued safe progress at Fukushima is vital to restoring public confidence, it cannot by itself restore Japan’s other 50 or so nuclear power stations to again operate (and, not coincidentally, put back into standby the old fossil fuel burning plants pressed into service in their place).
For that, it will be necessary to ensure that nuclear facilities like TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility and others like it can be operated with a very high margin of safety.
I have visited KK and reviewed in depth the safety enhancements that have been made there, and I must say they are impressive. They include greater redundancy in the methods to keep cooling water on the spent fuel pools and reactor cores in the event of a failure, more robust capabilities in the event of an electrical blackout, more portable emergency equipment.
They even include providing for gravity-fed water from a lake in the mountain, in the event power to the pumps fails. These, and other enhancements, represent what we refer to as “defense in depth.”
But the most important changes go beyond these physical enhancements, important as they are. They are the changes in people’s attitudes and behaviors that, taken together, constitute a “safety culture.” And it is the creation of this “safety culture” within TEPCO that has been perhaps the greatest focus of our Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee. The Japanese members of the Nuclear Reform Committee have been very helpful in providing suggestions for improvement.
I’m often asked, “what do you mean by ‘safety culture?’ Do you mean that TEPCO didn’t have safety manuals, or rules, or that they didn’t care about safety?” It’s a good question. Of course TEPCO had manuals, and rules, and it’s clear to me that they care about their people’s safety.
But what we mean by “safety culture” is more than that. It is a greater emphasis on training and having a questioning attitude. Especially, it is a greater emphasis on communication within the organization, not just from the top down but even more from the bottom up and among all the employees.
It is quite literally a culture, one in which we want every worker to come to work every day thinking of safety in everything they do.
It is this kind of culture that I believe TEPCO did not pay enough attention, and which it is now building.
Let me give you an example: In 2008, engineers at Fukushima Daiichi came up with a hypothetical tsunami of 16 meters, and management said the idea was not credible. To be fair, so did just about everyone else. And so, as a result, some precautions weren’t taken against flooding the emergency generators.
Had those precautions been taken – perhaps moving those generators out of the basement, or augmenting them with another line of defense – history might have been very different.
Now, it’s fair to ask, how far can you take that? After all, if you had to prepare for every conceivable calamity that might occur to an overanxious mind, you’d never be able to build anything – not just nuclear power plants but other things like airplanes as well.
And it’s also complicated by the fact that the public does tend to overestimate the risks associated with nuclear energy, and underestimate those associated with fossil fuels.
Indeed, that’s why the “culture” part of “safety culture” is so important. There is no precise formula to tell you when you’ve planned sufficiently. Rather, it’s a way of thinking, of critically assessing every risk. You say, “I don’t think this would happen, but if it did, this is what I would do.”
And the key to establishing this culture is people. People who are trained. People who are responsible. People who are motivated. Who think critically. Who are focused on outcomes as well as processes. Who are prepared for the unexpected and empowered to deal with it. Yes, technology will be important but never as important as well trained people. For every robot there is a person who needs to operate it. But for every valve, every pump, and every switch, there have to be people who understand what each one means to plant safety and operation. In the end, it is the people who will make the difference, technology will only help them do their jobs better.
TEPCO is making substantial progress toward the creation of this culture. It doesn’t happen overnight, and old habits can be hard to overcome. But I believe TEPCO’s leadership is committed to making it happen, and that they understand the necessity of succeeding. I am encouraged by the fact that their Nuclear Reform Plan incorporates extensive changes in management structure as well as training and communications, all with the focus on establishing this safety culture.
And I believe we have seen it play out in the meticulous planning for and execution of the fuel removal from Unit 4, despite the dire predictions that so many had made about how it would turn out.
Indeed, I believe that the fuel removal from Unit 4 is a genuine milestone. It represents the first major step in actual removal of nuclear material after the accident, and at the same time demonstrates the extent to which the safety culture is taking hold. I believe we will see that safety culture take root at KK, and that whenever Japan decides it is an appropriate time to restart KK, we will see it take root as KK and Japan’s other nuclear plants reclaim their crucial role in powering Japan’s economy and its way of life.
As a former U.S. nuclear regulator, and now as the associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Texas System, I travel extensively. Everywhere I go, whether in the U.S., Asia, Europe – truly, wherever – I am asked about Fukushima.
“How are they doing?” “Can they fix it?” “Have they got it under control.” People are intensely interested; some of them are sophisticated nuclear engineers, others are ordinary citizens.
And I tell them the same thing I am telling you: great progress is being made, I am optimistic about the future, but it will not be a straight line forward and there will be setbacks along the way.
At Fukushima, difficult decisions remain to be made about what to do with the 400 tons of contaminated water that are accumulating daily on the site, and inevitably more difficult decisions will need to be made about dealing with the debris of Units 1, 2 and 3. In the coming decades, we will surely encounter the unexpected more than once, and by creating the new D&D entity – and adopting the safety culture – TEPCO is establishing a robust structure that will be able to cope effectively when things don’t go strictly according to plan.
It is important for Japan to realize there will be future problems as the cleanup progresses – what is important is that there is the technical talent and the safety culture to address these problems.
I noted before that the world is watching, and that is true. But it is doing more than watching, it is helping. I have found my work on the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee to be among the most rewarding of my career. We are aware of how important this work is, and how much it means to the people of Japan.
We have been gratified by the reception we have been given and by the openness of our colleagues at TEPCO to true reform and especially the contribution of the members of the Nuclear Reform Committee from Japan. The Nuclear Reform Committee has not always been kind in our assessments, and we intend to continue to offer our thoughts on how things can be improved.
We will continue to provide whatever assistance we can in the coming years, and I am confident that the Japanese people have the resources, technical sophistication, and determination to succeed.
But even as we help, we are also learning. We are learning about how to make nuclear power plants even safer than they already are. And we are learning invaluable lessons about D&D work that will be useful in the coming decades as older nuclear power plants must be retired or replaced.
Even though we hope those retirements will not come as the result of the kind of accident experienced at Fukushima, the technical and engineering experience gained at Fukushima will make a huge contribution to the safe closure of those plants.
Indeed, it is reasonable to believe that the D&D capability you are developing will become a valuable and exportable asset for Japan.
The world, not just Japan, needs nuclear energy as part of the overall mix of sources of our electricity. It makes little sense to have “green” cars, or “green” electric trains if we pollute the air with tons of carbon emissions to generate the electricity they will need. Renewables are important, but Japan and other countries need a reliable supply of base load electricity. As you know, significant numbers of people who once opposed nuclear power now support it precisely because they recognize that the risks of dependence on fossil fuels are so much greater.
Japan’s success in overcoming the challenges of Fukushima will play an important role in building public confidence all over the world in the role of nuclear energy in our common future. So we are cheering for your success.
In a speech a few weeks ago, TEPCO President Hirose noted that the third anniversary of the Fukushima accident marks a time both of reflection on the past and of rededication to creating a better future. I believe he is exactly right.
It is an appropriate time to pause and reflect on the suffering and dislocation visited on so many people by the earthquake, the tsunami, and the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. It is also an appropriate time to reflect on the last three years, which, whatever their frustrations and occasional setbacks, have brought important progress.
And it is an appropriate time to rededicate ourselves to the future. It is a future I believe is bright, and one with energy security and economic vitality for the Japanese people.
No matter how much we rely on process and technology, it is people who will be responsible for achieving these goals. TEPCO will have challenges ahead and there will be setbacks. It is important that TEPCO continues to reform, does not become complacent and continues to make progress on the Fukushima Daiichi clean-up. And I have every confidence that the people of this extraordinary nation will meet that challenge.
At every crucial moment they have done so, and I believe they will continue to do so, through the combination of great effort, teamwork, and technical sophistication for which Japan is renowned. It has been, and remains, a great privilege to have been invited to play a small role in this great national effort.
Dr. Dale Klein visited Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on March 10, 2014.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on January 23, 2014 and Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on the next day with TEPCO’s Nuclear Reform Special Task Force
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on December 16, 2013 with TEPCO’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Office
Mr. Lake Barrett, an “International and Decommissioning” member, participated in TEPCO’s “Contaminated Water and Tank Countermeasures Headquarters” press conference on November 13, 2013.
Mr. Lake Barrett, an “International and Decommissioning” member, conducted an on-site inspection of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on November 13, 2013.
Mr. Lake Barrett, an “International and Decommissioning” member, discussed the activities of decommissioning and countermeasures for contaminated water on November 12, 2013.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai conducted an on-site inspection of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station on October 5, 2013
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held meetings on October 4 and 11, 2013 with TEPCO’s Nuclear Reform Special Task Force
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai inspected a TEPCO drill conducted on September 27, 2013
Lady Barbara Judge met with members of the Japanese and international media on October 12, 2013
October 12, 2013-Visiting Tokyo, Lady Barbara Judge CBE, Deputy Chairman of TEPCO's Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee met with members of the Japanese and international media to share her experience as chairman of the United Kingdom's Atomic Energy Authority in creating a strong nuclear safety culture.
In response to questions from the media about the UK decommissioning experience, Lady Judge noted that the British government had created a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to oversee all of the country's civil nuclear decommissioning. While a direct copy of the UK model is not appropriate for Japan, she said there may be learning from the NDA which are useful to TEPCO.
She further noted however that the UK experience, which recognizes the need for greater specialization in nuclear decommissioning, could be borrowed and adapted for Japanese needs, and that TEPCO could consider creating a specific subsidiary or division to specialize in decommissioning activities. As decommissioning and power generation require different skill-sets, TEPCO would need to employ foreign and domestic decommissioning experts working alongside its existing employees in this new division. Increased specialization and management oversight would allow for a stronger safety culture in both operations and decommissioning.
Looking to the future, Lady Judge made comments to the press that in her view Japan needed nuclear power as part of its overall energy mix due to natural resource constraints and the need for greater independence from foreigh energy imports. She pointed out that Japan had some of the world's best nuclear technology and that the learning from Fukushima would inform and guide the creation of world-class safety standards.
Dr. Dale Klein attended the meeting of Contaminated Water and Tank Countermeasures Headquarters sponsored by TEPCO on September 13, 2013
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on August 28, 2013 with TEPCO’s Social Communication Office
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on July 5, 2013 with TEPCO’s Social Communication Office
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on July 4, 2013 with TEPCO’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Office
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on June 22, 2013, with TEPCO’s Social Communication Office.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on June 22, 2013, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on June 22, 2013, with TEPCO’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Office.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai inspected a TEPCO drill (loss of power sources drill) on May 22, 2013.
Dr. Dale Klein held a meeting (conference call) on May 21, 2013, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on April 26, 2013, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on April 26, 2013, with TEPCO’s Social Communication Office.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on April 22, 2013, with the Secretariat of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on March 15, 2013, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on February 26, 2013, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Mr. Lake Barrett, a member of the “International” subcommittee, held a meeting on February 25 on the decontamination in the Fukushima area and the reactor decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
Mr. Lake Barrett, a member of the “International” subcommittee, conducted an on-site inspection of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on February 26, 2013.
The third Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee Meeting planned to be held on February 23 has been postponed.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE and TEPCO Nuclear Special Task Force conducted an on-site inspection of the electric power company in the United Kingdom, and exchanged opinions on the self-regulatory organization on January 31 to February 1, 2013.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a roundtable meeting with TEPCO’s female employees working in Fukushima area at the Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters on January 26, 2013.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE conducted an on-site inspection of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on January 26, 2013.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE conducted an on-site inspection of Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power station on January 25, 2013.
Dr. Kenichi Ohmae held a meeting on January 11, 2013, with the TEPCO Nuclear Special Task Force.
A committee member-only meeting was held on December 14, 2012.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on December 11, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Dr. Kenichi Ohmae held a meeting on December 7, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Dr. Dale Klein held a meeting on November 30, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on November 29, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Dr. Kenichi Ohmae held a meeting on November 23, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai conducted an on-site inspection of the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Station on November 13, 2012.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE held a meeting on November 9, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Dr. Kenichi Ohmae held a meeting on November 7, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on November 5, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Mr. Masafumi Sakurai held a meeting on October 30, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Dr. Kenichi Ohmae held a meeting on October 24, 2012, with the TEPCO Nuclear Reform Special Task Force.
Dr. Dale Klein conducted an on-site inspection of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station on October 11, 2012.
Dr. Dale Klein conducted an on-site inspection of the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power stations on October 10, 2012.