The following post was sent to us via email by John Keeley, who is travelling with a delegation of American chief nuclear officers in Japan this week. You can follow John's observations on Twitter by following @nei_media and the #CNOSummit hash tag.
In summer, in morning or early afternoon, when a traveler moves by air many thousands of miles from east to west, he never quite escapes the bright sun of day. My communicator colleagues here in Japan all noted the difficulty we had securing substantive rest on our flights over the Pacific during this novel journey. We were ever chasing the sun, they said.
The American chief nuclear officers we're following with our cameras and electronica this week have been, ever since their arrival here, in perpetual motion in pursuit of safety lessons. In making the unprecedented and extraordinary commitment to "put eyes on the problem" created by the 3/11 Fukushima tragedy, our CNOs, it occurs to me, are following a global commitment to safety much as we communicators were following the sun.
Remember: this is a trip undertaken *after* U.S. CNOs had unanimously adopted significant safety enhancements at all 63 operating stations in response to the Fukushima accident.
The CNOs I ran into late on Sunday night were every bit as bleary-eyed and time-zone tortured as we communicators, but about 15 of them awoke at the crack of dawn Monday morning in order to board buses and trains to Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the largest nuclear generating station in the world with a capacity of 8200 MWs and 5400 employees. Since 2007 the station has invested almost $2 billion dollars fixing earthquake damage and installing post-Fukushima modifications. There were significant safety lessons to be learned in seismic and flooding space at Kashiwazaki, and so our CNOs bused hours across this island to learn them.
They returned from that site about an hour before meeting their Japanese CNO counterparts at Monday night's welcoming reception. There's no rest for the safety-lesson-craving weary on this trip, and well before a new workday had started in Tokyo on Tuesday every American CNO was back on a tour bus, this time headed for site visits at both Fukushima Daini and Daiichi. We'll have a lot more to say and illustrate about those two extraordinary site visits in the days ahead, but at the end of a hot Tuesday of touring the CNOs were still very much in motion, still very much in learning mode.
Darkness was fast setting upon our tour, but instead of heading to our new hotel and a badly needed hot meal our buses trudged slowly through a town called Tomioka. It's a seaside town quite near both Fukushima plant sites, and on March 11, 2011, it knew 16,000 residents. It was a community known in summer for festivals and parades.
|Tomioka. Photo used under Create Commons License through Wikipedia|
Fallout from the Daiichi accident delivers 1-3
I wish them all some early and deep shuteye tonight. They're off to freshly pursue safety lessons through the total sun again of tomorrow.