The International Atomic Energy Agency just completed a fact-finding mission into the Japanese nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant—and one fact it found is that the tsunami hazard was underestimated. From the IAEA:
- Japan's response to the nuclear accident has been exemplary, particularly illustrated by the dedicated, determined and expert staff working under exceptional circumstances;
- Japan's long-term response, including the evacuation of the area around stricken reactors, has been impressive and well organized. A suitable and timely follow-up program on public and worker exposures and health monitoring would be beneficial;
- The tsunami hazard for several sites was underestimated. Nuclear plant designers and operators should appropriately evaluate and protect against the risks of all natural hazards, and should periodically update those assessments and assessment methodologies;
- Nuclear regulatory systems should address extreme events adequately, including their periodic review, and should ensure that regulatory independence and clarity of roles are preserved; and
- The Japanese accident demonstrates the value of hardened onsite Emergency Response Centers with adequate provisions for handling all necessary emergency roles, including communications.