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Japanese Nuclear Accident And U.S. Response. May 17, 2011. Tsunami Initiates Nuclear Accident. On March 11 a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the east coast of Japan All operating nuclear power plants shut-down safely

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Presentation Transcript
tsunami initiates nuclear accident
Tsunami Initiates Nuclear Accident
  • On March 11 a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the east coast of Japan
    • All operating nuclear power plants shut-down safely
  • An hour later a massive tsunami—about 45 feet high—struck the east coast
    • Critical equipment at Fukushima Daiichi plant was destroyed
fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant before the accident
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Before the Accident

Units 5, 6

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4

At the time of the earthquake

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 operating

Reactors 4, 5 and 6 shutdown for maintenance, inspection, refueling


Tsunami Damage

Looking Toward the Plant

no backup power for cooling systems at fukushima daiichi 1 4
No Backup Power for Cooling Systems at Fukushima Daiichi 1-4
  • Cooling systems eventually stopped working due to lack of off-site power and back-up power systems
  • Fuel in reactor heated up
    • Fuel cladding reacted with water at high temperature, generating hydrogen gas
  • Containment pressure increased; TEPCO vented hydrogen in containment to atmosphere to prevent overpressure
  • Hydrogen explosions occurred in secondary containment
  • Plant operators injected sea water into reactors to cool fuel, prevent further damage
boiling water reactor design
Boiling Water Reactor Design

Boiling Water Reactor Design

At Fukushima Daiichi

Secondary Containment

Spent Fuel Pool

Steel Containment Vessel

Reactor Vessel

Primary Containment

Suppression Pool (Torus)

continual recovery efforts
Continual Recovery Efforts
  • Continue to cool and stabilize reactors 1-3
  • Provide additional cooling water to used fuel pools in reactors 1-4
  • Provide long-term cooling systems
  • Process radioactive water
  • Conduct detailed evaluation of event
  • Decommission Fukushima reactors
u s nuclear plants are safe
U.S. Nuclear Plants Are Safe

“Our nuclear power plants have undergone exhaustive study, and have been declared safe for any number of extreme contingencies. ”

President Barack Obama

March 17, 2011

“All the plants in the United States are designed to deal with a wide range of natural disasters, whether it’s earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, other seismic events. We require all of them to deal with those.”

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko

March 17, 2011

u s nuclear energy facilities prepared for extreme events
U.S. Nuclear Energy FacilitiesPrepared for Extreme Events
  • Maximum credible earthquakes, floods, other natural events
  • Total loss of power
  • Hydrogen generated as a result of fuel damage is removed from the plant through special vent
  • Post 9/11: response for aircraft impact, loss of large areas of the plant
  • Industry is prepared for the unexpected…exceeds NRC requirements
  • U.S. industry dedicated to continuous learning
emergency planning for u s nuclear energy facilities
Emergency Planning for U.S.Nuclear Energy Facilities
  • 10-mile emergency planning zone (evacuation or sheltering); 50-mile monitoring zone for environment and food.
  • Comprehensive industry/local/state and federal response to emergency events
  • Radiation monitoring by plant site, NRC, and state and local personnel
  • Decisions on public protective action measures made by state or local authorities based on recommendations from plant operator and NRC
  • Emergency response exercises coordinated with state, local, and federal officials, evaluated by the NRC and FEMA
u s government response
U.S. Government Response
  • Multi-agency task force (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Defense) supporting Japan recovery efforts
  • President Obama directed the NRC to perform a comprehensive review of U.S. reactors
  • NRC established agency task force to develop lessons learned from Fukushima Daiichi accident to provide short-term and long-term analysis of the events
nrc task force to review the events in japan
NRC Task Force to Review the Events in Japan

“To date the task force has not identified any issues that undermine our confidence in the continued safety and emergency planning of U.S. plants” – NRC Task Force, May 12, 2011

  • NRC is currently reviewing seismic, flooding, station black out, severe accident management and other guidance
  • Task force will provide recommendations for near-term action and framework and topics for longer-term review
  • Final task force briefing on July 19 and near-term report issued in July

Photo courtesy of the NRC

examples of differences between u s and japanese reactor operations
Examples of Differences Between U.S. and Japanese Reactor Operations

United States

  • Post 9/11/01 actions to address large fires and explosions
  • Independent regulatory agency with 4,000 employees and $1 billion budget
  • Industry organization for oversight and sharing operating experience
  • Site-specific simulator for each reactor


  • No similar action taken
  • Regulator is part of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
  • No similar industry organization
  • Shared simulators for multiple plants
nrc licensing actions after march 9 2011
NRC Licensing Actions after March 9, 2011
  • Power uprates approved for Limerick and Point Beach reactors
  • License renewals granted for Vermont Yankee and Palo Verde 1, 2 and 3
  • Final Environmental Impact Statements for new reactor construction at Vogtle plant in Georgia and Summer plant in S.C.
  • Design certification for the GE-Hitachi advanced reactor design (ESBWR) issued for public comment
outlook for u s nuclear industry
Outlook for U.S. Nuclear Industry
  • Nuclear energy remains vital part of U.S. and global electricity portfolio
  • Updates to equipment, training and operational procedures to address lessons learned from Fukushima
  • Four to eight new reactors operational by 2020
  • Demand for electricity will continue to increase
    • Nuclear energy will remain an option to provide low-carbon, affordable electricity
    • U.S. reactor manufacturers and suppliers will continue to participate in the $400 billion global market for nuclear energy
nuclear industry policy priorities
Nuclear Industry Policy Priorities
  • Stability at the NRC: renomination and confirmation of two commissioners this year
  • Full response to Fukushima accident
  • Ensure loan guarantee program is workable financing platform for new reactors
  • Alignment of U.S. government agencies to support export of U.S nuclear energy technology and services
  • Constructive congressional oversight
used fuel management requires national policy
Used Fuel Management Requires National Policy
  • Used fuel is safely stored at reactor sites
  • Older used fuel rods pose little additional risk due to declining heat and radiation over time
  • Federal government responsible for used nuclear fuel disposal
  • Temporary fuel storage at 1 or 2 locations important step toward moving fuel from reactors
u s industry taking steps to make safe nuclear energy facilities safer
U.S. Industry Taking Steps to Make Safe Nuclear Energy Facilities Safer
  • Nuclear energy industry committed to take short-term and long-term actions
  • Short-term action : Verify readiness to manage extreme events
  • Long-term action:
    • Exhaustive analysis of Japanese accident and how reactors, systems, structures, components, fuel and operators performed
    • Incorporate lessons learned into U.S. reactor designs and operating practices
short term industry actions to ensure safety
Short-Term IndustryActions to Ensure Safety
  • Verify each plant's capability to respond to major challenges, such as aircraft impacts, loss of large areas of plant due to natural events, fires or explosions
  • Verify each plant's capability to manage loss of off-site power
  • Verify capability to mitigate flooding and the impact of floods on systems inside and outside the plant
  • Inspect important equipment needed to respond to extreme events
information sources
Information Sources
  • Nuclear Energy Institute (www.nei.org)
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (www.nrc.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Energy (www.energy.gov)
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (www.iaea.org)
  • American Nuclear Society (www.ans.org)
  • Health Physics Society (www.hps.org)
  • Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/)
  • Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (www.jaif.or.jp/english/)
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html)