A Look at the Past 6 Months
It has occurred to me that I have reached a bit of a hiatus in blogging about the Fukushima accident and its aftermath. No doubt there will be more issues that arise in the future that will get my attention again, but for now, I thought it might be convenient to list the dozen and a half or so posts I have written in the first 6 months since the accident and to provide a very brief summary of each.
The Japanese Government and Transparency: Another Issue for Nuclear Reactor Regulation August 30, 2011. This post looks at the different rules that govern Japan and the United States with respect to keeping records of meetings between regulators and licensees and making these records available to the public.
Observations on Japan and its Nuclear Program: Not Anti-Japanese! August 18, 2011. In response to criticism from a friend that my posted seemed anti-Japanese, I tried to point out what I do admire about the Japanese, and to explain why it is important to note the features of the Japanese system that may have contributed to how the Fukushima events unfolded.
Japanese Regulation: The Elements of Independence August 11, 2011. In this blog, I recognize that, as Japan strives to create a more independent regulator, they need to be aware that there are really several different types of independence that are important in nuclear regulation.
Suggested Changes to the Japanese Nuclear Program: Guidelines versus Requirements August 5, 2011. This blog reflects the fact that the Japanese can't just take the existing model of another country and adopt it whole cloth. A new regulatory authority will have to operate within the Japanese system, and therefore any model used must be adapted to work in that system.
Nuclear Regulatory Independence in Japan: The Role of Technical Capability July 24, 2011. In this post, I note that the Japanese government tends to be staffed primarily with generalists, and that it would be desirable to try to increase the number of technical specialists in the Japanese regulatory agency.
Fukushima and Coverups: Eraser Society July 22, 2011. When I lived in Japan, on several occasions, I saw people erasing or whiting out minor errors and I realized that it was an attempt to hide a mistake. I speculate that some of the reports we saw coming from the Fukushima accident may have represented a similar attempt to hide mistakes.
Considering the Fukushima Accident: Does Culture Matter? July 18, 2011. One famous homily that children learn in Japan is that "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down." I raise a question about whether some engineers in Japan didn't stand up to authority when they should have because they were so carefully taught not to "stick out."
Post-Fukushima Findings: The Origins of the Problem begin to Emerge July 15, 2011. This post reports on news items about how some of the original construction decisions made for Fukushima Dai-ichi may have exacerbated the effects of the tsunami.
Nuclear Regulation: Finding the Right Balance June 17, 2011. While this blog was not explicityly about Fukushima, it was probably spurred by all the thinking I was doing about Fukushima at the time. It reflects on how difficult it is for the regulator to find the right balance between too little regulation and too much regulation.
Replacing Nuclear Power: And Other Fantasies June 11, 2011. Although this post was about whether or not nuclear power could be replaced, it was spurred by the post-Fukushima demands by citizens in some countries that seem to suggest the citizenry thinks that it will be simple and quick to replace nuclear power with other sources of energy.
Nuclear Revival: A Scientific American View May 29, 2011. This blog mainly covers an article published by Scientific American prior to Fukushima, but also discusses a post-Fukushima editorial in the publication that proposes that reactor designs and regulatory processes should be improved in the wake of Fukushima.
Japanese Nuclear Regulation: A Call for Change May 13, 2011. I was pleased to see that some of my colleagues in Japan who are active in the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ) were the first to propose that the Japanese regulatory system needed fixing, and I summarized their first announcements on the issue.
Fukushima and Amakudari: A Problem with a Long History May 6, 2011. In this blog, I discuss the fact that Japan has a system called amakudari, whereby government employees often move into positions in the industries they control. This system makes it very difficult to maintain the regulatory independence that is required for nuclear power.
Post-Fukushima: Some New Directions? April 23, 2011. This post provides a summary of two of the early discussions of some of the specific changes that the United States might want to make to reflect the lessons learned from Fukushima.
Positive Views on Nuclear Power: A Small Bright Light in a Difficult Time April 14, 2011. In the early days after Fukushima, I was pleased to see that the coverage of the accident was, in many places, more positive than I thought it might be, and this blog lists several articles that had appeared in the first few weeks after the accident.
Fukushima: The Devil is in the Details March 27, 2011. In the first days and weeks after the accident, there was much concern about US reactors of similar design and vintage. Thus, I was happy to report on an article that identified some differences between the Fukushima reactors and the ones at TVA.
The Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Some Observations March 19, 2011. This was my first post about the Fukushima accident, and it covers my earliest observations.
Also: Nuclear Regulation in Japan after Fukushima August 2011, in the JANUS "Toward Post-Fukushima" Series (now renamed "Fukushima Reconstruction Support" and on a new website). This blog was written for Japan NUS (JANUS) for a series of essays from various experts around the world on different aspects of the accident and what it might mean in the future. I was pleased and proud to be asked to contribute to this series and used the essay to summarize my thoughts on nuclear regulation. Other essays in the series provide the insights of experts from around the globe.
(Finally, while not related to the Fukushima situation, I should note that I've also done a series of a dozen blogs on other nuclear topics for JANUS in the last year or so, all of which can be found at "Dr. Marcus' Room" on their website. Note that this link and the link above were updated on November 21, 2015, as the original link has changed.)