How Lessons Learned from Fukushima Can Help the U.S.

Two years removed from the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, what have been the lessons learned? Or have lessons been learned at all? The Japanese government, as well as TEPSCO, the managers of the failed Fukushima plants, have taken steps to try and assure that such an event does not happen again. And while it would seem adequate measures have been instituted, one area of concern involves the cleanup of the past disaster.

The cleanup efforts, according to some estimates, are expected to take 40 or more years, costing tens of billions of dollars. Two years removed and over 150,000 residents who had to be evacuated from the area around the plant still reside in temporary housing. Worse yet, some of the land could be unfarmable for centuries, a big loss for a country with so little land mass to begin with. But how can we translate what happened in Japan to life here in the U.S.?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) set up a task force whose goal was to identify key lessons that U.S. facilities could learn from Fukushima. When all was said and done, the task force had recommended some key areas that U.S. facilities could use to improve their operations, and thus avoid a Fukushima-type event. These included upgrading a facility’s ability to deal with any kind of extended power loss.

Instead of embracing the recommendations, the nuclear industry instead proposed its own measures, which amounted to less stringent measures. While experts agree that the nuclear facilities’ proposed efforts represent a beginning, they go nowhere near what is needed to avoid an event, like what happened in Japan, from occurring here in the U.S.

Worse yet, lawmakers seem to be folding under the pressure from their funders and constituents to put the pressure on the NRC to accept the proposed plan from the nuclear industry. Add to this the fact that America’s nuclear facilities get older and older every year, with few new plants being opened up to take some of the burden off of aging plants. It seems that it is only a matter of time before an accident like what happened at Fukushima happens in the U.S.


For more information about lessons learned from Fukushima, visit: