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Ludwig Boltzmann Forum

Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan

Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan

Chuck Casto

keynote talk given at 9th Ludwig Boltzmann Forum, Embassy of Austria in Tokyo, 16 March 2017

by Chuck Casto Licensed Nuclear Power Station Operator. Was NRC regulator responsible for 23 nuclear power stations. Leader of the US Integrated Government and NRC efforts in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011

Summary written by Gerhard Fasol

Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan

Five crisis – all five crisis must be solved

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is not a triple crisis, as sometimes stated, but five crisis:

  • earthquake
  • Tsunami
  • nuclear plants, including clean-up
  • social impacts
  • policy

All five crisis must be addressed, and a system solution must be found and implemented.

The Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear disaster was caused by a system failure both of the Government and the Utility (Tokyo Electric Power, TEPCO)

The nuclear disaster was caused by a long list of failures and mistakes, not by one single factor:

  • the plant was constructed at the wrong place
  • the well known Tsunami history was ignored, land was lowered to near sea level to save money for pumping water, exposing the nuclear plant to Tsunamis
  • Lessons from Chernobyl were not learnt, incorrect venting procedures were used
  • Mistakes in emergency planning and crisis leadership: there was not enough planning for the case of accidents
  • Lessons from the US 9/11 terror attack were ignored, and US advice was rejected: no backup electricity was provided
  • A misalignment of values
  • Policy imbalance between power and responsibility

Instead of the prevalent “safety myth”, we must start from the position that accidents can happen.

The balance of power and responsibility

Which group has the legal power and who has the legal responsibility?

Misalignment of values held by (1) nuclear utilities, (2) the public and (3) the Government leads to distrust, and as a result doubt, uncertainty, fear, anxiety, insults, anger, and loss of trust in the system.

The values need to be realigned to create a system to protect public health and the environment.

We must have a clear legal basis for roles and responsibilities.
The utilities (electric power companies) need to be ultimately responsibly.
There is a public and government reluctance to give the utilities clear and sole responsibility.

Lessons from the Three Mile Island Accident

Before the Three Mile Island Accident we had an imbalance between:

  • the power of the utility (the nuclear plant operator)
  • the responsibility of state and federal authorities
  • the public

This imbalance was corrected and rebalanced after the Three Mile Island accident:

  • the law was changed regarding risk: the law demands now a “reasonable assurance”
  • the regulator was strengthened
  • an industry excellence organization was formed

Similarly in Japan we need to rebalance the system of power, responsibility and accountability of all players:

The pyramid of power needs to be with the Government and the Diet on top:

  • Government and the Diet
  • Government agencies and ministries
  • Extra-government organizations
  • Prefectures and Local governments
  • Nuclear utilities, nuclear plant operators
  • Public and non-governmental organizations

This power pyramid needs to be balanced with responsibility and accountability of:

  • Nuclear utilities, nuclear plant operators
  • Government agencies and ministries
  • Government and the Diet
  • Extra-government organizations
  • Prefectures and nuclear utilities
  • Public and non-governmental organizations

Japan’s system failure needs a Japanese solution, not a US or EU solution

…and the cleanup of the Fukushima disaster zone is absolutely essential for a restart of nuclear power in Japan.

  • Nuclear crisis: the Fukushima disaster area must be restored for new land use, to prove that future accidents will be cleaned up, and to give hope to residents
  • Social crisis: public health communication is necessary
  • Policy crisis: Japan’s Diet (Parliament) needs to hold a national dialogue on nuclear power and risk, who should have the power, who should have the responsibility and what level risk is acceptable

Balanced regulatory oversight needs to be established, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) needs proper oversight.

Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan
Chuck Casto: Balance of Nuclear Power Policy in Post-Fukushima Japan

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leadership Ludwig Boltzmann Forum

Chuck Casto: Global leadership in the extreme – crisis leadership in post-Fukushima

Global leadership in the extreme: crisis leadership in post-Fukushima

Chuck Casto

keynote talk given at the 7th Ludwig Boltzmann Forum at the Embassy of Austria, Tokyo, 20 February 2015

Dr. Chuck Casto, Casto Group Consulting LLC, Licensed Nuclear Power Station Operator. Was NRC regulator responsible for 23 nuclear power stations. Leader of the US Integrated Government and NRC efforts in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.
Dr. Chuck Casto, Casto Group Consulting LLC, Licensed Nuclear Power Station Operator. Was NRC regulator responsible for 23 nuclear power stations. Leader of the US Integrated Government and NRC efforts in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

by: Dr. Chuck Casto, Casto Group Consulting LLC, Licensed Nuclear Power Station Operator. Was NRC regulator responsible for 23 nuclear power stations. Leader of the US Integrated Government and NRC efforts in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

summary by Gerhard Fasol – discussions at the end of this page

Leadership in the Extreme

  • The earth is flat enhanced global leadership is needed. A nuclear accident in one country is a nuclear accident everywhere.
  • Japan – the Fukushima disaster revealed an imbalance of power and leadership:
    • systems failure
    • misalignment of values
    • actions are needed to realign values

Needed enhancements for extreme crisis leadership, not only developing countries, but also including 1st world, developed countries such as Japan.

The USA are very experienced in assisting 2nd and 3rd world, developing countries in times of disaster and the response is essentially standardized. However, the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear disaster was the first time, where the USA assisted a developed 1st world country in coping with a disaster.

The Fukushima Dai-Ichi disaster revealed the need to standardize our plans for domestic and international responses in times of disaster. We need to understand how nations define severe accident response, post-disaster recovery and preparations for extreme events.

Fukushima-Dai-Ichi was a system failure, a consequence of an imbalance of power and responsibility

Broken information flow

There was a lack of flow of information between government, utility and the public, and a lack of formal communication between the disaster site and the Government leadership – the disaster site was an isolated island.

Imbalance of power

This lack of sufficient information flow was compounded by imbalance of power and legal uncertainty. Several different laws and Government agencies applied, and there was confusion between Atomic Energy Basic Law, Emergency Laws, Basic Energy Plan, Industry Ministry (METI), Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), Self Defense Forces and other agencies.

There was confusion and conflicts over division of labor and responsibility, regarding venting of the reactors, injection of water and evacuation of local communities.

Imbalance of responsibility

There must be a clear legal basis for roles and responsibilities, which was not the case because of conflicts between different applicable laws (e.g. nuclear laws and emergency laws) and between different agencies and the utilities.

Ultimately the utilities (Tokyo Electrical Power Company TEPCO) must be responsible, however, the public and the government are reluctant to give the utilities the clear and sole responsibilty.

There is an uncertainty about “acceptable risk”. Risk management had been replaced by “Japan’s nuclear safety myth”, and preparations for nuclear accidents were not sufficient.

It is necessary to realign responsibility, accountability, power and achieve a balanced system

Japan needs to realign responsibility, accountability, power between:

  • Government / Diet (Japan’s Parliament)
  • Government agencies (MEXT, METI, NRA)
  • Extra-Governmental Organizations
  • Prefectural and local Government
  • Nuclear utilities
  • non-governmental organizations and the public

In particular, Government and Diet (Japan’s Parliament) need to exercise power, while the nuclear utilities must assume full responsibility and be fully accountable.

The nuclear regulator must be fully accountable to the Diet (Japan’s Parliament), and the Diet must assume the responsibility to supervise the nuclear regulator.

A public discussion on national level must determine which risk is acceptable, and the regulator must regulate to this acceptable risk, and be supervised by the Diet.

Questions and Answers

Question by Shuji Nakamura: what do you think is the best energy for Japan
Answer by Dr Chuck Casto: because of Japan’s earthquake and other risks, geo-thermal energy and wind might be the most suitable.

Question: are modern nuclear reactors safe?
Answer by Dr Chuck Casto: like modern cars, modern nuclear reactors are better engineered and generally safer than old designs from 30-40-50 years ago. If Japan could afford this, I would advise Japan to replace all old reactors with new modern reactors.

Question: are your worried about the safety of nuclear reactors in China and other countries?
Answer by Dr Chuck Casto: of course I am worried about the safety of nuclear reactors in China, in other developed and developing countries. I am also worried about the safety in our own country – the USA, because in the USA we have lost much needed basic skills such as welding. We need to keep our basic skill such as welding. France has an advantage in nuclear power, because in France all reactors use the same basic design. So improvements of this basic reactor type at one plant can be used to improve the safety at all other plants. In the USA, or in other countries we have many different reactor designs, so its much more difficult to manage the safety, and to bring improvements from one plant to others which might be differently designed reactors.

References

Chuck Casto: Global leadership in the extreme: crisis leadership in post-Fukushima
Chuck Casto: Global leadership in the extreme: crisis leadership in post-Fukushima
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Forum
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Forum – audience
Chuck Casto and Shuji Nakamura
Chuck Casto and Shuji Nakamura

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