Sunday, December 30, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Former NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko Visits Fukushima, Meets Evacuees

I haven't watched the entire program myself, but will do so tomorrow, before NHK finds the video and takes it down.

NHK BS-1 documentary "原発の“安全”を問い直す 米NRC前委員長 福島への旅 (NRC former chairman's trip to Fukushima - to re-examine the safety of nuclear power plants)", first aired on December 22, 2012. The program is in Japanese, but you can hear Jaczko's comments in English, and you can catch the interpreter.

Jaczko visited Japan in August this year, soon after he resigned from the NRC.

原発の“安全”を問い直す ~米NRC前委員長 福島... by tvpickup

While walking in Namie-machi with a former resident in Tyvek suits and mask, Jaczko says,

I see many different people with views about nuclear power. Some people try and say that really because no one was killed from radiation or appears to have received lethal doses of radiation that there's... such hype. But I think it is certainly very difficult to walk around here and see the livelihood that's just no longer there.

The town is frozen at March 11, 2011.

At the end of the program, Jaczko says,

"In the end, everyone has to keep in mind that the safety of the public is the number one responsibility, whether you are a power plant owner, whether you're a worker at the power plant, or a local or state or national government official, everyone has to recognize that safety of the people is the most important issue."

Well, it wasn't, in case of Japan. What came first and foremost was to tell people it was safe, and kept repeating it like a mantra.

Jaczko certainly does not come across as arrogant, bullying chairman that he was accused of being, by his colleagues.


Anonymous said...

Jaczko's main crime was not bowing to his masters in congress and industry when it came to OKing the Yucca mountain waste disposal facility but calling for a 50 mile evacuation at Fukushima sealed his fate. When was the last time a government official was charged with being an arrogant bully and pushed out of office? If being an arrogant jerk were grounds for dismissal from public office there wouldn't be a government. Jaczko was railroaded by pro-nuclear force on the commission because he wasn't playing ball with their industry master.

"WASHINGTON -- Bill Magwood, the man at the center of an effort to overthrow the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and his most likely successor if the move is successful, served as a consultant for Tepco, the Japanese company that owns the Fukushima nuclear power plant, according to information provided by Magwood as part of his nomination and confirmation process, which was obtained by The Huffington Post."

Anytime an industry organ like the NEI issues a statement against someone regulating them you know the regulator is doing their job. The NRC and the industry it regulates should have an adversarial air about regulation if the NEI likes their regulator then you can be pretty sure the regulator isn't doing their job.

"On Monday, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the lobby for the nuclear energy industry, issued a statement expressing confidence that Congress and the White House "will take the steps necessary to ensure that the NRC is an efficient, effective regulator.""

VyseLegendaire said...

@ Anon above – that's a pretty startling, but ultimately unsurprising conflict of interest. Of course the one guy who did his job somewhat responsibly, and expresses remorse about when nuclear goes wrong (is it ever right?) gets axed and replaced by an industry insider. All's well that end's well in Nuclear Camelot.

Anonymous said...

Can't comment on the video as a whole since I don't speak Japanese. But I think, Jaczko said the most important thing right in the beginning:

"You know, I think there's really - there's just no excuse for any of us that have been involved in the nuclear arena to let something like this happen."

LET it happen! Interesting (and commendably realistic) view point coming from someone who knows how the industry and its regulating body work in the US and likely elsewhere.

And that statement also tells all one needs to know as to why he was driven out of the NRC: no room for people who think critically and responsibly about the public's safety. God forbid they show compassion for "regular people" on top of everything.

But that's not all. He also makes a later statement that makes you wonder (if you haven't wondered already) about the current nuclear industry safety standards:

"... There really is no acceptable situation in which people have to be sent from their homes because of a man-made technology that is there to provide electricity and to do these kinds of things. This is not, I think ultimately, the kind of trade-off that we want to have. It really enforces in my mind that I think we need a different standard when it comes to nuclear safety. And that standard really needs to be that nuclear power plants should only be allowed to operate if we can really guarantee that we won't have to have these kinds of large scale evacuations. I think that's the goal that we need to shoot for and make sure that we bring about. And being here and coming here just re-enforces in my mind that that's really the right approach. That will take a lot of hard work and it's something that people need to do."



Anonymous said...

Oops, I'd like to clarify my "Amen" at the end of my previous comment.

Jaczko: "... nuclear power plants should only be allowed to operate if we can really guarantee that we won't have these kinds of large scale evacuations ..."

Imho, it can't be guaranteed, so end of nuclear power.


Anonymous said...

That "safety of the people" statement only makes sense if you use the modern definition of "safe".

Anonymous said...

"Safety" also means safe, permanent disposal of radioactive waste which is not possible.

Anonymous said...

Agree about the radioactive waste. Since the 70's I've tried here and there to explain to people that the waste disposal problem and associated risks alone are reason enough to not build NPPs in the first place.

NPP = safety risk for 40+ years (operating time)
Nuclear waste = safety risk for 1000s of years

Am always glad to see that there are people who see it the same way.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

This nuclear technology depends, at least in Japan, on workers in the subcontracting pyramid for maintenance and operation, while they are exposed to high levels of radiation in exchange for meager pay. It's not right.

VyseLegendaire said...

The nuclear technology depends on 1. Absolutely guarantee of non-safety, and 2. a complete gambit called prayer.

Anonymous said...

There is not a single independent risk manager in the world who would allow any nuclear power plant to be approved to operate.

You simply cannot allow a technology that fails so catastrophically that it cannot be stopped and brings down the economy of an entire nation and puts the health of millions of individuals at risk - even if you were able to keep the risk of that catastrophic failure to 1/1000th of what it is today - the cost of meltdown is too high.

I challenge any degreed engineer - actually any person with a reasonable level of mechanical ability - to take a look at the design of one of these NPP's and conclude there's no way they can melt down. There are so many ways they can - and will - melt down that it'll make your head spin.

And on top of that - is the idiocy of spending billions of dollars building "containment" that obviously can't work in a meltdown - but then putting hundreds of tons of exactly the same crap - "spent fuel" - just a few feet away in completely, totally wide open pools.... And then leaving that stuff there for decades....

Anybody with half a brain would say the entire population of earth has been duped about the "safety of nuclear" - there is none whatsoever...'

I think this guy came face to face with the reality of the situation when he was sitting in a room listening to the reports coming in... However he's still ignorant - because anybody with as much information as he has also wouldn't go to Fukushima for then next million years or so....

a female Faust said...

life is short no matter what. i'm glad he went. his realization was worth it, with his influence.

i must say, especially after his comments recently, he has earned some respect from me, of which he had none before. now keep fighting, Dr. J!

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