Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Better Disaster Preparedness for Major Industries a lesson from Fukushima?
When I saw the reports on the destruction the Tsunami that swept Japan’s west coast left in its wake, I felt saddened. Besides destroying life’s it crippled the economy. Japan was well prepared for the earthquake, robust building designs prevented loss of life from a Richter 8 quake and several powerful aftershocks. The same could not be said for the Fukushima reactor, whose cooling system was destroyed by the Tsunami which prevented the reactors from being shut down safely.
While the battle to control the reactor continues, it exposed three vital flaws. A single point of failure in the cooling system, a failure to reassess the damage a tsunami could cause post the Indonesian quake and perhaps the most significant of all a lack of what if scenario’s and related preparedness in dealing with the impact of a failure to contain the reactor on water, land and air.
Expert continues to say it is negligible. Yet we read of radiation levels in plants, drinking and seawater continues to rise. Japanese food exports have been banned and citizens of Tokyo 240 KM away live on imported food and drinking water. Many in fear, as the radiation levels may not be critical.
To me as a layman, I feel a sense that authorities are unprepared to face the post nuclear disaster consequence on plant, animal and water resources. I do not believe we have mitigation measures in place should radiation hit the underlying water table and to prevent adverse consequences on animal, bird and sea life.
As an interesting side note, it seems nuclear reactors are vulnerable to enemy attack and missile strikes. Imagine the consequence of such an attack when there is no time for mitigation. Al Qaeda first plan for 9/11 was to strike nuclear reactor with the commercial airliners which they later abandoned due to small target size and low probability of success.
If this is the level of failure in the nuclear industry, I am sure that it must be similar in related industries such as Chemical. We need to create what if scenario’s from a disaster in these industries and put in mitigation measures even if the probability of occurence is very low as the magnitude of adverse outcome is extremely high. These measures should be made mandatory by law.