Fukushima, 5 Years Fast Forward

William Orders


In 2015, the IAEA published a comprehensive report, “The Fukushima Daiichi Accident,†that describes the accident, its causes, its evolution, and the consequences.  It also details IAEA’s observations and lessons.  The NRC recently completed a preliminary review of this report. We determined that the U.S. NRC, government, or industry are already addressing the concerns in the report. In short, U.S. actions to address the lessons learned are consistent with the concerns of the international community.    A detailed comparison is available here [link to short version of the crosswalk].

The most obvious areas of concern were the effects of a seismic event, flooding, and a complete loss of AC power.  Common issues that are being addressed by the nuclear power industry globally include:

  • a re-examination of external hazards,
  • improving the robustness of the electrical systems,
  • enhancing the robustness of the ultimate heat sink (UHS),
  • protection of the reactor containment system,
  • protection of spent fuel in storage pools and
  • the capability of quickly providing diverse equipment and assistance from on-site or off-site emergency preparedness facilities.

Understandably, the Fukushima accident had a significant impact on the nuclear power industry worldwide. The underpinnings of the accepted understanding of global nuclear safety were reconsidered.  Addressing the accident, and implementing corrective actions from lessons learned to prevent recurrence, are a priority for regulators and the nuclear industry.  Although the NRC staff are continuing to review the comprehensive report in detail, we are heartened that internationally we are all addressing the same common concerns.  Safety is being enhanced worldwide.

More information on the NRC’s response to the Fukushima accident can be found on NRC’s Japan Lessons Learned website. A description of the accident is available here.



nuclear safety, Fukushima accident, nuclear regulatory response, NRC, NTTF, FLEX


IAEA Report, The Fukushima Daiichi Accident, 2015, http://www-pub.iaea.org/books/IAEABooks/10962/The-Fukushima-Daiichi-Accident

NRC Information Notice 2011-08: Tohoku-Taiheiyou-Oki Earthquake Effects on Japanese Nuclear Power Plants - For Fuel Cycle Facilities, March 31, 2011, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1108/ML110830824.pdf

NRC Bulletin 2011-01: Mitigating Strategies, May 11, 2011, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1112/ML111250360.pdf

Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, http://www.inpo.info/

NRC Appoints Task Force Members and Approves Charter for Review of Agency’s Response to Japan Nuclear Event, NRC News No. 11-062 April 1, 2011, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1109/ML110910479.pdf

Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century – The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident, July 12, 2011, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1118/ML111861807.pdf

US NRC, SECY-11-0137, Prioritization of Recommended Actions to Be Taken in Response to Fukushima Lessons Learned, October 3, 2011, http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/japan/timeline/10032011.html

US NRC, EA-12-049, Issuance of Order to Modify Licenses with Regard to Requirements for Mitigation Strategies for Beyond-Design-Basis External Events, March 12, 2012, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1205/ML12054A735.pdf

US NRC, EA-12-051, Order Modifying Licenses with Regard to Reliable Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation, March 12, 2012, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1205/ML12056A044.pdf

US NRC, EA-13-109, Issuance of Order to Modify Licenses with Regard to Reliable Hardened Containment Vents Capable of Operation under Severe Accident Conditions, June 6, 2013, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1314/ML13143A321.pdf

US NRC, EA-12-049, Issuance of Order to Modify Licenses with Regard to Requirements for Mitigation Strategies for Beyond-Design-Basis External Events, March 12, 2012, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1205/ML12054A735.pdf

US NRC, Transmittal of NEI 12-06, Rev. 0, "Diverse and Flexible Coping Strategies (FLEX) Implementation Guide," dated August 2012; Industry Comment on Draft Interim Staff Guidance JLD-ISG-2012-01; Docket ID NRC-2012-0068, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1224/ML122420493.html

US NRC, SECY-11-0125, Issuance of Bulletin 2011-01, “Mitigating Strategiesâ€, http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/secys/2011/2011-0125scy.pdf

US NRC, Request for Information Pursuant to Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations 50.54(F) Regarding Recommendations 2.1, 2.3 and 9.3, of the Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident, March 12, 2012, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1205/ML12053A340.pdf

US NRC, SECY-15-0137, Proposed Plans for Resolving Open Fukushima Tier 2 and 3 Recommendations, November 4, 2015, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1525/ML15254A006.html

US NRC, SECY-15-0128, Eighth 6-Month Status Update on Response to Lessons Learned from Japan's March 11, 2011, Great Tohoku Earthquake and Subsequent Tsunami, October 30, 2015, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1524/ML15245A473.html

US NRC, Japan Lessons Learned website, http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/japan-dashboard.html

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