Skip to main content

Fukushima Five Years Later: Focused on Operational Excellence

Bill Webster
This week is the fifth anniversary of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. To mark the event, we'll be sharing observations from leaders around the nuclear energy industry all week long on how the U.S. has absorbed lessons learned from the accident to make safe nuclear plants even safer. Today's contribution comes from Bill Webster, Executive Vice President, Industry Strategy for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

U.S. nuclear stations continue to perform at high levels of safety and reliability, as measured by internationally accepted measures of performance. Most notably, as we approached the end of 2015, industry median values for capability factor, forced loss rate, reactor scrams, collective radiation exposure and industrial safety reflect the best-ever performance of America’s nuclear energy industry and exceed the challenging five-year goals set for these indicators in 2010.

Early in the response to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, industry leadership recognized that significant attention and resources were required to fully learn and act upon the lessons from the accident. Industry leaders also recognized this could dilute attention from the operational needs of the stations and committed to prevent operator distraction.

To facilitate this operational focus, the industry continued an on-going initiative to increase the engagement of workers at all levels and to expand their understanding of operational risk and the use of operating experience. This initiative was further expanded to include a focus on reactor operating fundamentals, particularly by the control room crews when responding to complex transient scenarios. Improvements in control room crew teamwork, training, and the timely resolution of equipment issues have contributed to a steady reduction in the number and severity of operational disruptions.

Several new initiatives were undertaken to continuously improve industry performance. Most important was an effort to enhance station and corporate leadership and teamwork through the application of proven leadership and team attributes. Additionally, based on operating experience, the industry began to apply an expanded understanding of integrated risk, including the consideration and interactions between operational, project and enterprise risk. These actions have increased industry self-awareness, as well as the capacity for continuous improvement and organizational learning.

America’s nuclear energy industry has applied the attention and required resources to deeply learn from the accident at Fukushima. Concurrently, industry leaders increased their attention to the operation of the nuclear stations with a resultant steady improvement in plant safety and reliability.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…

New Home for Our Blog: Join Us on NEI.org

On February 27, NEI launched the new NEI.org. We overhauled the public site, framing all of our content around the National Nuclear Energy Strategy.

So, what's changed?

Our top priority was to put you, the user, first. Now you can quickly get the information you need. You'll enjoy visiting the site with its intuitive navigation, social media integration and compelling and shareable visuals. We've added a feature called Nuclear Now, which showcases the latest industry news and resources like fact sheets and reports. It's one of the first sections you'll see on our home page and it can be accessed anywhere throughout the site by clicking on the atom symbol in the top right corner of the page.
Most importantly for you, our loyal NEI Nuclear Notes readers, is that we've migrated the blog to the new site. Moving forward, all blog posts will be published in the News section, along with our press releases, Nuclear Energy Overview stories and more. Just look for the &qu…