Learning the lessons from Fukushima
Posted by APM on 8th Jul 2011
With Germany – and now Italy– turning their backs on nuclear power, a top industry expert has said lessons need to be learnt quickly, in order to restore public confidence in the safety of the sector.
As the UK finalises plans for the next-generation nuclear build programme, Tony Roulstone, from the Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre, said the meltdown at Fukushima in Japan should be used as a catalyst to develop future strategies in an ‘open’ and ‘responsive’ way.
Speaking in the latest issue of Insights – the Acumen 7 network newsletter – he said: “As an industry, we need to learn from this and make things substantially better, not just a little bit better. We learned a hell of a lot about operating and designing reactors from Three Mile Island. The game is to learn from accidents – making the likelihood of these so remote that the public can trust nuclear to generate the energy we need.”
During the past 20 years modern reactor designs have focused on the threat from ‘external hazards’ such as earthquakes, terrorism and flooding, meaning a Fukushima failure is far less likely to happen. However, despite the slim chances of a ‘common cause’ failure, a review of existing practices was a sensible move – including the question of what to do with old reactors.
“We can use our ingenuity to try and fix them or shut them down, but either way we need to address the problem,” said Roulstone.
“You can’t have a reactor which destroys itself within a day when all you need to do is pump water in – this is unacceptable. What is required is: more batteries, more diverse and protected pumping systems. These must be provided whatever the cost."