Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CNO Summit Diary: Maria Korsnick's Reflections from Japan

Maria Korsnick
Maria Korsnick is Chief Nuclear Offiicer (CNO) of Constellation Energy. In the aftermath of Fukushima, Maria appeared in a series of videos for NEI explaining exactly what changes the industry was effecting in the wake of Fukushima

She's in Japan this week as part of a delegation of American CNOs touring the country’s nuclear facilities as part of the U.S.-Japan CNO Summit. This is the first in a series of travel logs that Maria recorded to share her experiences. Please remember to follow our updates on Twitter using the #CNOSummit hash tag.

As I boarded the plane for Japan, I wondered what it was going to be like to experience our business in a completely different culture. Once I arrived, it didn’t take long to generate some first impressions. My hosts were welcoming and polite, surroundings were neat and orderly and properties were well-cared for. It’s abundantly clear that the Japanese people take pride in their surroundings.

Japan has only one-third the population of the United States; however the entire country is roughly the size of California and only 27% of their land is habitable. That means lots of people in a small space. For perspective, greater Tokyo is home to a staggering 30 million people. Despite its population density, Japan doesn't exude the chaos of a crowd. Trains arrive and depart precisely on schedule, the cars are clean and you better be in line to board or it will leave without you. Thousands of people move around quietly and in orderly fashion. There’s no trace of graffiti, trash or cigarette butts anywhere.  It’s quite unlike anything you would see in any large American city.

Tokyo at night.
On our first day, we took a train and a bus to a plant known as “KK”, three hours outside Tokyo. There are seven reactors on the site but none are currently operating. They are in the process of updating their tsunami counter measures. We were warmly welcomed by our hosts. American and Japanese flags were displayed side by side. We had a good discussion on their learnings from the 2007 NCO earthquake. They have since built upon their already strong design and made enhancements to add margin.

The plant tour was quite impressive. Inside the Unit 7 control room (it’s an advanced BWR design) operators use digital controls and operate plant equipment from computer screens. A member of the Japanese regulatory body was present in the control room, much like NRC residents tour our plants and ask us follow up questions. A banner in the room read, “World Class Nuclear Plant: Resilient to Natural Disasters.” I wish them well on their journey to re-start the units. 

At the end of day one, I remember thinking that the world of nuclear translates well. Regardless of what language was being spoken, attentive operators worked in pristine conditions and focused intently on effective communications and procedure adherence to ensure safety. Sounds like us!

1 comment:

jimwg said...

I'd VERY much like to know what Japanese government and electric utilities are doing in mass public nuclear education.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

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