Lessons Learnt from Japan

Everybody around the world was shocked by the devastation caused by March’s earthquake in Japan and the associated catostrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

In the UK, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was formed on 1 April 2011, seeking to protect nuclear workers and the wider public. They aim to ensure that the nuclear industry complies with legislation and create “an excellent health, safety and security culture”.

The ONR filed it’s joint interim “lessons learnt” report on 18 May 2011 with the UK’s Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations, Mike Weightman. His primary analysis of the Fukushima accident makes 26 recommendations for the UK, but concludes there is no need to restrict operations here.

Mr Weightman said:

“The extreme natural events that preceded the accident at Fukushima – the magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent huge tsunami – are not credible in the UK. We are 1,000 miles from the nearest fault line and we have safeguards in place that protect against even very remote hazards. Our operating and proposed future reactor designs and technology are different to the type at the Fukushima plant.

“But we are not complacent. No matter what the differences are, and how high the standard of design and subsequent operation of the nuclear facilities here in the UK, the quest for improvement must never stop. Seeking to learn from events, and from new knowledge, both nationally and internationally, must continue to be a fundamental feature of the safety culture of the UK nuclear industry.”

The full report will be published in September.