Common Concerns

Photo: NRC File Photo

Photo: TEPCO

On 11 March 2011, a Richter Scale 9 earthquake triggered a massive (15m) tsunami east of Sendai in Japan, which disabled electric power in five out of six generating units at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Although Units 1 to 3 of the plant have automatically shut down at the earthquake, the loss of electric power (including back-up supply) for reactor cooling eventually led to the meltdown of the nuclear reactors. Reactors and spent fuel pools lost their cooling capabilities. This in turn led to hydrogen explosions. Radioactivity was subsequently dispersed into both the atmosphere and the sea. Three workers were killed by non-radiation-related causes. Around 100,000 people up to 40km were evacuated.

After the Fukushima accident, the international community expressed widespread concern about the readiness of nuclear power stations to withstand extreme natural disasters and multiple events. In addition to conducting safety checks for all existing nuclear facilities, various international discussion platforms such as the IAEA Ministerial Conference were held to review and discuss strengthening nuclear safety and enhancing the capabilities of nuclear power stations to handle emergencies. The Chinese Government also ordered a comprehensive safety review of all nuclear facilities operating or under construction within its borders. Focuses of the safety review are the capabilities to withstand severe external impacts and to manage emergency situations, with the aim to more clearly identify these severe external hazards and to have measures to counter these hazards and handle the resulting emergency situations.