The Economist: Independent regulators needed for strong nuclear power

March 8, 2021, 9:28AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear power is an important component in the fight against climate change, but independent regulation is needed to gain the public’s---and governments'---trust, according to a March 6 article in The Economist, “Nuclear power must be well regulated, not ditched.”

The article reviews the negative effect that the Fukushima Daiichi accident had on the worldwide nuclear industry following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Japan’s direct economic cost, estimated at more than $200 billion, was larger than that of any other natural disaster the world has seen, according to the article.

Fukushima Daiichi: 10 years on

March 1, 2021, 2:12PMNuclear NewsLake Barrett

The Fukushima Daiichi site before the accident. All images are provided courtesy of TEPCO unless noted otherwise.

It was a rather normal day back on March 11, 2011, at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant before 2:45 p.m. That was the time when the Great Tohoku Earthquake struck, followed by a massive tsunami that caused three reactor meltdowns and forever changed the nuclear power industry in Japan and worldwide. Now, 10 years later, much has been learned and done to improve nuclear safety, and despite many challenges, significant progress is being made to decontaminate and defuel the extensively damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactor site. This is a summary of what happened, progress to date, current situation, and the outlook for the future there.

Earthquake has impact on Fukushima Daiichi plant

February 23, 2021, 6:58AMNuclear News

The black star represents the epicenter of the February 13 earthquake. Image: USGS

There has been no off-site impact from the February 13 earthquake that struck off the east coast of Japan near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported on February 19. The earthquake, however, has caused a water leakage from two of the site's primary containment vessels (PCVs).

A nuclear alert order was issued by the plant about 20 minutes after the earthquake, and the water treatment and transfer facilities were shut down. Inspections after the event revealed no anomalies and the nuclear alert order was rescinded on February 14.

The nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan is now undergoing decommissioning.

Anniversary Observations

March 11, 2019, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeAlan Medsker

The seismic event was huge and was felt all over the world.  With a moment magnitude of over 9.0, the earthquake and was the fourth largest ever in the more than 100 years of recorded history.  Huge land masses shifted as much as 2.4 meters, and the rotation of the earth was changed so that days were suddenly just a little (but measurable) bit shorter.  It had sped up the world.

Fukushima Three Years Later

March 11, 2014, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis


Tokyo Electric Power Company's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Station; Units 6 and 7 were submitted for safety screening in September 2013.

In our collective memory, disturbing images played out on video around the world in the days following the apocalyptic Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami have somewhat receded, even if they haven't lost their impact-images of rushing waters, floating vehicles, buildings and debris, massive (and unstoppable) outbreaks of fire, and implications of lives lost and lives ruined.

Decommissioning of Private Assets is Public Matter in Japan; TEPCO Forges Ahead

September 26, 2013, 1:56PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis


Fukushima Daiichi Units 5 (left) and 6 (right) seen in October 2012 behind the newly completed breakwall.

Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conducted a visit to Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station to examine conditions at the site and to gauge TEPCO's response to numerous ongoing problems. When Abe spoke to reporters after the visit, he mentioned (for reasons still unknown) that he had suggested to TEPCO that it decommission Unit 5 and Unit 6 on the site, so that it could focus its efforts squarely on the work required to recover from the nuclear accidents at Units 1, 2, and 3. This was reported with some surprise in many quarters.

Fukushima Two Years Later

March 7, 2013, 2:58PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

At about a quarter to three in the afternoon on March 11, 2011, a gigantic and unprecedented earthquake struck just over 110 miles off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. The quake was followed, just over 40 minutes later, by the first of several rounds of tsunami, which inundated enormous areas and eradicated entire towns and villages. Over 19,000 people were killed or are still missing, and over 6,000 survivors were injured.

NRC/Fukushima hearing in US Senate on Thursday

March 12, 2012, 6:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A hearing titled "Lessons from Fukushima One Year Later: NRC's Implementation of Recommendations for Enhancing Nuclear Reactor Safety in the 21st Century" will be held in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, March 15, at 10:00 AM EDT. The hearing will be a joint session of the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.

Fukushima health effects

March 5, 2012, 10:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima has been conducting a comprehensive study of the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011. The special committee was tasked with providing a clear and concise explanation of what happened during the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and offer recommendations based on lessons learned. A report from the special committee will be released at a press conference on Thursday, March 8, at 10AM EST. The press conference will be webcast at, and the report will be available for download at

A Fukushima investigative scorecard

March 5, 2012, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeLeslie Corrice

Since the Fukushima accident last March, several Japanese investigative groups have been created to try to establish what actually happened. As the number of groups has grown, some confusion has understandably emerged. Here's a "scorecard" of the five primary Japanese investigative commissions, with a brief description of each.

Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works!

November 10, 2011, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeSuzy Hobbs Baker

I originally wrote this post as a book review, but after three or four edits, I realized that I couldn't mask my biased opinion about the new children's book, Nuclear Power: How a Nuclear Power Plant Really Works! Simply put, I adore this book, as well as author Amelia Frahm, and have something of an emotional stake in its success. So, I decided it would be better to just share the reasons I love this book without trying to hide my enthusiasm.