An insider’s perspective on Fukushima — and everything after

❝ The meltdown of the reactors at Fukushima Daichi has changed how many people view the risks of nuclear power, causing countries around the world to revise their plans for further construction and revisit the safety regulations for existing plants. The disaster also gave the world a first-hand view of the challenges of managing accidents in the absence of a functional infrastructure and the costs when those accidents occur in a densely populated, fully developed nation.

❝ Earlier this week, New York’s Japan Society hosted a man with a unique perspective on all of this. Naomi Hirose was an executive at Tokyo Electric Power Company when the meltdown occurred, and he became its CEO while he was struggling to get the recovery under control. Ars attended Hirose’s presentation and had the opportunity to interview him. Because the two discussions partly overlapped, we’ll include information from both below.

NAOMI HIROSE:

❝ “We learned that safety culture is very important. We saw that we were probably a little arrogant. We spent a huge amount of money to improve the safety of that plant before the accident. We thought that this was enough. We learned that you never think this is enough. We have to learn many things from all over the world. 9/11 could be some lessons for nuclear power stations—it’s not just nuclear accidents in other countries, everything could be a lesson.”

I spent a fair piece of my early days in metals testing laboratories. Mostly non-ferrous metals — including zirconium which was used at the time in heat exchangers of nuclear power plants. I had an ongoing interest in nuclear generated power for decades and, frankly, though it’s still a viable option with appropriate regulations, testing and management, the whole process is now simply too expensive to be considered rationally…especially when compared to renewable sources whether they be solar, wind or wave power, geothermal.

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