JN-HRD Net Message: NHRD After Fukushima (2011)(Former title: Evolution of Nuclear Human Resources Development after the TEPCO Accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011)
Nuclear Human Resource Development Network
The "Japan Nuclear Human Resource Development Network (hereinafter referred to as the 'network')" was established in November 2010, with the aim of efficient, effective, and strategic promotion of nuclear human resource development activities by creating a human resource development system in Japan under close mutual cooperation among related nuclear human resource development organizations, such as government, industry and academia. It has come into operation toward the realization of 10 recommendations in the report issued in April 2010 by the Council on Nuclear Human Resource Development.
Under this situation, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 caused the TEPCO Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (hereinafter referred to as the "Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant") an all station blackout, resulting in core melt accident at units No. 1, 2 and 3, serious damages in the buildings, and thus extensive radioactive material release. This accident inflicted a major impact not only on our country but also around the world, and Japan inevitably is facing the necessity to review its present energy and nuclear energy policies.
The government has begun to investigate the cause of the accident and examine its measures, and in parallel issued a report at the IAEA Ministerial-level conference in June 2011. The report reads, "In order to steadily advance efforts toward medium- to long-term nuclear safety, it is of extreme importance to develop human resources responsible for nuclear safety and nuclear accident prevention. For this reason, nuclear human resource development activities shall be reinforced among the nuclear industries and regulatory authorities, along with strengthening of human resource development in the fields of nuclear safety, emergency preparedness, risk management and radiological medicine at educational institutions". Thus, further improvement of human resource development activities among related nuclear organizations is being required.
Therefore the roles imposed on the network are becoming more and more important. Based on the extracted lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, we have identified at this point the near-term challenges to be addressed as the direction of nuclear human resource development in Japan, in addition to the activities toward the realization of the 10 existing recommendations.
2.Lesson learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident regarding Human Resources(1) Securing human resources with specialized knowledge in nuclear safety, emergency preparedness, risk management and radiation
At the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, severe accident has actually occurred, including core meltdown and massive release of radioactive material to the environment. From this fact, it has become clear that preparations and countermeasures on the premise of all station blackout at nuclear power plants had not been necessarily enough, that confusion had occurred on the occasion of implementing accident prevention measures including post-accident evacuation, and that health anxiety due to extensive radioactive contamination has developed among the public. In order to address these issues, it is vital for engineers with extensive specialized knowledge in nuclear safety, emergency preparedness, risk management and radiation to cover their relevant roles according to the responsibilities assigned to each organization; regulatory authorities, municipalities, research and educational institutions and industries.(2) Securing field engineers and technicians
The safety of nuclear facility solely depends on proper management of each stage; design, construction and operation. As for nuclear facility in operational phase, the roles of engineers and technicians who are thoroughly familiar with the local situations including operation and maintenance are vital, and in that sense the same can be said for Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant during its future restoration period. Furthermore, in the field, highly-experienced engineers and technicians with instructor-level proficiency who can lead the team are the keys, and it is this level of engineers and technicians that is most important to train and secure by design.(3) Enrolling students and young researchers to nuclear
In order to maintain and improve the safety of nuclear facilities, technology transfer to the next generation is prerequisite. However, there is a grave concern that students and young researchers would shift away from nuclear, becoming doubtful of its future due to the wake of this accident.
In order to maintain and operate nuclear facilities with higher level of safety, it is important to take active approaches to attract young human resources to nuclear field.(4) Development of international human resources
Japan is responsible to share with the world lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident, and to contribute in securing the safety of nuclear facilities by reflecting them on universal safety standards. For this purpose, it is expected to actively participate in activities of the international organization setting safety standards and lead the discussion.
Furthermore, while this accident wielded influence over the nuclear energy policies of many countries including countries which expressed nuclear power phase-out, some countries voiced their determination to go with nuclear, and those countries still keeps watch and place high expectations on Japan.
For this reason, it has become increasingly important for experts with excellent international senses and communication skills to contribute in formulating international safety standards and in securing nuclear safety in nuclear power introducing countries.(5) Enhancement of communication on radiation
As the effects of radioactive materials released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant range from soil and water to agricultural, livestock, and fishery products, many of the public are still concerned about the impact. This situation can be attributed to the fact that knowledge building had not been enough regarding the radiation effects on the environment and human body, and that easily comprehensible information had not necessarily been provided enough.
Network participating organizations are actually receiving an increasing number of requests for lectures and training sessions, and it is extremely important to properly provide accurate information and knowledge related to radiation.
3.The Direction of Future Efforts(1) Securing human resources with specialized knowledge in nuclear safety, emergency preparedness, risk management and radiation
It is vital to cultivate and secure experts who are capable of promoting research and technological development in the fields related to severe accidents. Especially, for emergency preparedness and risk management, it should be noted that practical experience and training in nuclear facilities are essential, as much as extensive knowledge earned through research and technological development.
Since human resources from various backgrounds are required in each organization; regulatory authorities, municipalities, research and education institutions and industries, it is necessary to further facilitate extensive coordination among the organizations with the aid of the network for effective human resource development.(2) Securing field engineers (technicians)
In order to ensure high-level of safety of nuclear facilities, it is vital to continuously cultivate and secure field engineers and technicians with abundant field experience on a long-term perspective. Especially, technology transfer through planned cultivation of field engineers and technicians with instructor-level proficiency is considered important, and further improvement in its systematic technological transfer, such as utilization of senior engineers, is required.
Furthermore, in light of this accident, it is necessary to actively train field engineers and technicians on emergency preparedness and radiation control, and in order to reflect and share the lessons learned from this accident, it is also vital to discuss this issue in the network.(3) Enrolling students and young researchers to nuclear
It is necessary to advance efforts to raise interest in nuclear energy, by showing; new themes for researches and technological development in light of the accident, continuous expectations for nuclear energy in the international community, etc., and to increase the opportunity for students not majoring in nuclear energy to know the field by providing them with basic education on nuclear energy and radiation.(4) Development of international human resources
In order to contribute to establishing of new international standards and to meet the expectations of nuclear power introducing countries, it is more than ever necessary to cultivate nuclear safety experts with excellent international senses, high communication skills, and advanced information conveying abilities.(5) Enhancement of communication on radiation
In order for the public to correctly understand nuclear power generation and radiation so that they can take appropriate measures even in the event of emergency situations, it is necessary to provide them with opportunities to study the subjects in schools at all three levels, as well as to enhance public information activities. Especially, as profound effects are expected in the community including students and those parents, it is necessary to advance efforts to have active teachers and students aiming to become a teacher obtain correct knowledge of radiation.
Furthermore, cultivation of risk communicators is significant to promote understanding, not only at the time of the accident but through daily communications with the public. Additionary, not only those involved in nuclear energy but also officials of local governments and educational institutions are required to try and improve those capabilities through trainings and field experiences.
The present paper summarizes the direction of human resource development to be focused, by identifying challenges on nuclear human resource development based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident. As it will take some time for the measures on human resource development to be effective, each participating organization in the network is expected to swiftly and actively implement these tasks in the future.
In addition, all those who are engaged in nuclear energy must have a high sense of ethics and safety culture, and its thorough enforcement is, needless to say, the prerequisite to proceed the above-mentioned human resource development activities.
The network has decided to conduct follow-up activities on the progress by, for example, establishing new Sub-Working Groups, and are determined to contribute to the higher level of nuclear safety by further investigating new tasks and lessons of human resources development learned from the accident.
[ Reference: Reports on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident in 2011 ]
- Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Companies, the Government of Japan, 2012.7
- Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, the National Diet of Japan
- The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Disaster: Investigating the Myth and Reality, the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, Routledge, 2014.3
- Fukushima Nuclear Accident Analysis Report, TEPCO, 2012.6