Day 14 review:

The 2011 accident at the Fukushima Kaiichi nuclear power plant was the focus of today’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s investigations.

Details about the cause of the accident, the key findings of subsequent investigations and ongoing health and environmental impacts were explored.

Dr Stephen Solomon, from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) was the day’s first witness. Dr Solomon is the Chief Radiation Health Scientist and Head of the Radiation Health Services Branch at ARPANSA. He was the leader of the Expert Group which evaluated radiation pathways and exposure to the public and the environment following the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011 for the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and provided evidence on:

  • Overview of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
  • Key findings of the UNSCEAR 2013 Report into the levels and health effects of radiation exposure following the accident at Fukushima
  • Lessons learned in relation to emergency preparedness, protective measures and remediation.

Mr Gustavo Caruso, Special Coordinator, Nuclear Safety Action Team, International Atomic Energy Agency gave evidence via videolink from Vienna. Mr Caruso was appointed the Special Coordinator of the Nuclear Safety Action Team at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2011. In this role he was tasked with implementing the IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan which was created in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident with a view to strengthening the nuclear safety framework around the world. Topics covered in his evidence included:

  • Overview of events at Fukushima Daiichi and causes
  • Key findings of the IAEA report by the Director General on the Fukushima Daiichi accident
  • Steps taken by the IAEA to mitigate the risk of future accidents – the IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan.

The final witness on the topic was Dr Mike Weightman, Director for the UK National Nuclear Laboratory and Visiting Professor at the University of Cambridge. Dr Weightman led the IAEA’s official fact finding mission to Fukushima Daiichi in May 2011. Dr Weightman is currently a member of the IAEA’s International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group, a non-executive Director for the National Nuclear Laboratory, UK, and a visiting professor in the Nuclear Engineering Department, University of Cambridge. He spoke on:

  • Chronology of events at Fukushima Daiichi
  • Causal factors for the accident
  • Key lessons learned
  • Fukushima Daiichi today – progress of recovery

Video and transcripts of each session will be uploaded into the Public Sessions archive.

Tomorrow’s Public Session will return to Topic 1 – Climate Change and Energy Policy. Click here for topic and witness list.