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Posts tagged ‘Fukushima’

Securing China’s Nuclear Energy Development

Hui Zhang

Hui Zhang

By Hui Zhang

Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Chinese president Xi Jinping said in his address at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit that, “we should place equal emphasis on development [of nuclear energy] and security, and develop nuclear energy on the premise of security.” He further emphasized that,developing nuclear energy at the expense of security can neither be sustainable nor bring real development. Only by adopting credible steps and safeguards can we keep the risks under effective control and develop nuclear energy in a sustainable way.”

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After Fukushima: Seizing the chance to strengthen nuclear safety and security

Matthew Bunn

Matthew Bunn

By Matthew Bunn

Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; co-principal investigator, Managing the Atom Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Olli Heinonen and I have written a piece just out in Science (log in required) on nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of Fukushima.  We call for more stringent national regulations and international standards, expanded and strengthened safety and security peer reviews, and beefed-up emergency response. Read more

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Nuclear Security Summit: One year on, and looking ahead

We asked nuclear policy experts in Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to summarize in one paragraph the achievements in the year since President Obama convened a summit on nuclear security on April 12-13, 2010. And we asked for a second paragraph on what needs to be done in the year before the follow-up summit planned for Seoul, South Korea.

Here are their replies:

Graham Allison

Graham Allison

Graham Allison
Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

 

Since last April’s historic Global Nuclear Security Summit, there have been a series of positive steps towards preventing what President Obama called the “single biggest threat to U.S. security, short-term, medium-term, and long-term”: nuclear terrorism.  From the elimination of more than half of Ukraine’s highly enriched uranium (HEU) stockpile to the safeguarding of more than 800 bombs’ worth of fissile material in Kazakhstan, states have made significant down payments on the president’s objective to secure the world’s most vulnerable fissile material by 2014. While these achievements should be celebrated, this is no time for a victory lap.  We have only reached the end of the first quarter in a race against time to ensure the world’s most dangerous materials do not fall in the deadliest hands. Read more

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The IAEA and the Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima

By Olli Heinonen

By Olli Heinonen

The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum

By Olli Heinonen

Senior Fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; former Deputy Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and head of Department of Safeguards

As the human tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan’s northeastern coast unfolds, Japan continues its battle to bring its nuclear power plant at Fukushima under control. For 10 days,  facility operators and technicians have worked tirelessly to cool the six stricken nuclear reactors and prevent a further spiral of fuel meltdown and release of harmful radioactivity. The work is being carried out under extremely difficult circumstances. Read more

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Some perspective on the Japan nuclear plant crisis

By William H. Tobey

By William H. Tobey

The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum

By William H. Tobey

(Before he became a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Will Tobey was Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration. Last week, he was asked by an ABC News editor to share some perspective on the Japan nuclear reactor situation. Here are his observations).

Here is what I have told family and friends:

There are no absolutely safe options; all forms of reliable energy generation carry risk to human life and health.  In the United States alone last year 48 Americans were killed in coal mining accidents and 11 were killed on the Deep Water Horizon Offshore rig.  Many more died earlier than otherwise because of the health effects of fossil fuel pollution. Read more

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The Global Future of Nuclear Power after Fukushima

A satellite image of Japan showing damage after an earthquake and tsunami at the Dai Ichi Power Plant in Fukushima, taken just three minutes after an explosion. (DigitalGlobe Photo)

A satellite image of Japan showing damage after an earthquake and tsunami at the Dai Ichi Power Plant in Fukushima, taken just three minutes after an explosion. (DigitalGlobe Photo)

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan is sending shockwaves through nuclear planning agencies around the world.   Policy makers are asking for reviews of safety regulations, publics are expressing concern, and it appears likely that some of the planned construction will be curtailed.   The politics of nuclear power is likely to be more contentious even in places where public support has been strong (or irrelevant).  As a result, in the coming decade, nuclear power may make less of a contribution to the mitigation of carbon emissions than it otherwise might have, (though even before the current crisis its role in overcoming the climate change challenge was a minor one).  Below are thumbnail sketches of how the discussion of nuclear energy is unfolding in key countries where plans for growth are most significant.

Martin Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School


China

Yun Zhou

Yun Zhou

Analysis by Yun Zhou, Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow

The Fukushima tragedy really gave the Chinese a serious wake up call on the importance of nuclear safety. Currently, China has 13 reactor units in operation and 28 units under construction. Although the Chinese government quickly claimed China would not change its plan for developing nuclear power projects right after the Fukushima crisis began on 12th March, the latest news shows the Chinese government taking actions to strengthen its nuclear safety at reactors in operation and under construction. On 16 March, China decided to conduct a comprehensive safety inspection for every nuclear facility. In the meantime, China will update current nuclear safety regulations and guidelines based on the lessons learned in Fukushima accidents.  Nuclear projects which do not comply with the new safety regulation and requirements will be suspended or terminated. In addition, China will adjust “its medium and long nuclear energy development plan” and stop approving new nuclear power projects before the updated nuclear safety regulation and guideline are released. Read more

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Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis: Some context

By Matthew Bunn

By Matthew Bunn

By MATTHEW BUNN

Harvard Kennedy School Associate Professor Matthew Bunn, whose research topics includes nuclear proliferation risks, the future of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle, and policies to promote innovation in energy technologies, offered these observations early Monday on the earthquake-damaged nuclear power plants in Japan.

1. NOT LIKE CHERNOBYL

Bad as it is, this accident is dramatically less catastrophic than Chernobyl.  That accident spread millions of curies of radioactivity — 3-4% of all the radioactivity in the reactor core — around the surrounding countryside, exposing millions of people in several countries. Large areas are uninhabitable to this day.  Here there is no real prospect of a runaway chain reaction as occurred at Chernobyl.  Instead, what has happened is melting of fuel in reactor cores, leading to release of a very modest amount of cesium and other fission products.  There is still a possibility of a larger release, if melted fuel falls to the bottom of the reactor and manages to burn through the containment, contacting water and creating radioactive steam.    At present, it seems more likely than not (though the situation is still changing) that most of the evacuated people will be able to return to their homes and live their lives as before. Read more

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