Comment from Dr. Dale Klein on the Nuclear Safety Reform Plan Progress Report (FY2013 3rd Quarter)
Dr.Dale Klein's Comments
- 1.Good Progress Overall
- TEPCO is making steady progress in implementing the Nuclear Reform Plan. I would like to see the pace of progress accelerate, and I am optimistic that this will happen as the achievements of the last two quarters generate momentum. The Nuclear Safety Oversight Office (NSOO) is now fully engaged, which will add additional impetus for progress. The Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee will continue to watch progress on the Nuclear Reform, especially the Safety Culture.
- 2.Two Milestones for Fukushima Daiichi
- The Progress Report describes two great milestones for Fukushima Daiichi: the very successful beginning of fuel removal work from Unit 4, and the adoption of a plan to concentrate responsibility for decommissioning in a new entity, the Decommissioning Company. The Unit 4 fuel removal is important for several reasons: One, it is a great technical achievement, performed safely and ahead of schedule, and with great transparency, even as many wrongly said the work was too dangerous, or that TEPCO wasn't up to performing it. Two, it has greatly boosted the morale of the people within TEPCO, something that is important to the long-term health of any organization and particularly one that has faced such great challenges. And three, it is a hopeful signal to Japan and the world that a turning point has been reached in the long road toward decommissioning. I, and others, have counseled TEPCO that this is not, however, a time for complacency, but rather for renewed focus on safety, and I believe that message has been absorbed. For example, the decision to build in a "pause" in the fuel removal activity, even though everything has thus far gone exceptionally well, for the sake of reviewing and refining procedures, indicates to me that the safety culture is taking hold. The concentration of responsibility for 1F work in an entity solely dedicated to that purpose is something that the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee had urged upon TEPCO and I am gratified that this decision has been taken. I believe it will improve accountability, accelerate progress, and bring to bear greater resources both from within Japan and from the international community, that wants so much for Japan to succeed in this challenging mission. I look forward to the new entity establishing and reporting on key performance indicators as it moves forward, including progress toward the New Comprehensive Special Business Plan's ambitious goal to safely remove at least one of the three molten nuclear cores by early 2020. However, it is important that TEPCO focuses on safety rather than a calendar as 2020 approaches.
- 3.Progress on Water, but More is Needed
- The report describes the various, and multi-layered approaches TEPCO is taking to develop a long-term, sustainable approach to the management of water at 1F, particularly groundwater, rainwater, and water from cooling systems that may become contaminated with radioactivity. Many of these efforts were outlined by President Hirose last November. Good progress has been made in strengthening current facilities, such as the storage tanks, and removing contaminated water from the property, as well as laying the groundwork for more ambitious undertakings such as physical groundwater barriers. But difficult decisions remain to be made about the ultimate disposition of contaminated water, which continues to accumulate at a significant rate. I believe TEPCO will continue to work closely with the national government, local communities, fishermen and other constituencies to develop and implement a long-term comprehensive disposal plan.
- 4.Improved Communication and Transparency
- An important recommendation of the Monitoring Committee has been for TEPCO to improve the quality, timeliness, and proactivity of its communications as part of an overall commitment to transparency. We are beginning to see the fruits of these efforts: timely and better information is being provided to the international community, including media, and technical information is being provided to the public via clear and understandable videos and animations online. It is important that these efforts toward transparency continue, and expand to all aspects of the company's communications, including its website, technical reports, and communications with its employees.
- 5.Managing the goals of the progress on the Nuclear Reform is necessary
- It is needed for TEPCO to take effective measures for Nuclear Reform continuously.To accomplish this goal, it is necessary to set some quantitative indicators to measure the progress for each item and to manage the goals.