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What we should learn from Fukushima nuclear tragedy

By Zhang Chuanguang, Li Wei (China Youth Daily)

10:21, March 21, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

March 11 of 2012 was the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear tragedy. The nuclear accident was a painful tragedy with large influence. We must learn some lessons from it to prevent similar tragedies from happening.

Japan is advanced about nuclear technologies. Before 2011, some small nuclear accidents had occurred in Japan, but the Fukushima nuclear accident was a real tragedy that shocked the whole world. The accident exposed some security and technological problems of the nuclear power plant in Japan.

First, economic efficiency and safety must be taken into consideration before a nuclear power plant is built. The construction of a nuclear power plant and the work of preventing the nuclear accident must be carried out simultaneously. We must never lower the safety standard of a nuclear plant for cost saving. For example, in the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the supervision on the gas vent was not strict enough and the possible hydrogen explosion outside the containment was neglected, and therefore, although the cost of the construction of the nuclear power plant was lowered, a hydrogen explosion caused by the leakage of hydrogen ultimately occurred which heavily damaged the nuclear reactor and the power plant.

Second, before building a nuclear power plant, the most difficult potential situation must be taken into consideration. The direct cause of the Fukushima nuclear accident was the tsunami. The tsunami paralyzed the external power network supporting the cooling system of the nuclear power plant, and in addition, the emergency diesel generator also broke down. As a result, the nuclear power plant lost all its external power supplies and the nuclear reactor also lost all its cooling measures. Therefore, while considering the security of a nuclear power plant, the most possible dangerous and complicated situation must be taken into account. If a nuclear power plant will be built on the sea coast, the possibility of a tsunami must be considered. It must be guaranteed that the standby system will be available in an emergency, and the security assessment must be carried out periodically.

Third, small problems and faults of the nuclear power plant must always be located and solved timely to prevent accidents. The Fukushima nuclear accident was not only an accidental but also an inevitable result. As early as 2006, a nuclear leak accident had occurred in this nuclear power plant, but the nuclear power department, in order to save its face, did not reveal the accident to the public. If Japan had paid enough attention to that accident, carefully examined the security system of the nuclear power plant and eliminated the potential risks, perhaps the explosion accident occurring in 2011 would have been prevented.

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