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Lessons Learned From Fukushima Dai-ichi (1. Press Conference. 2011. 10. 28)

Minister Hosono will now begin the press conference. Regarding the flow of this conference, the reception of the second opinion report will
be conducted first, then following the opening
address from the Minister, Mr. Ohmae will introduce a brief summary of his
report, and finally there will be a Q&A session. We would like to begin now. At first for the presentation of the reports,
Mr. Ohmae, please step forward. Please use this report for
the prevention of accident recurrence. Thank you very much. And now, here are some words from Minister Hosono. I have just accepted the opinions regarding what
can be learned from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear
Reactor accident from Mr. Kenichi Ohmae. I would like to explain
how I came to receive these opinions. As you are all aware, following March 11th,
I have been serving for the restoration
of the accident site. However, I have continued to consider questions such
as why this terribly serious accident had occurred,
and whether we could have prevented it or not. I also have had the thought that it is important to implement the lessons learned
for the future safety of nuclear energy as well
as to prevent actual accidents. Of course the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency
and Nuclear Safety Commission have been presently
engaged in the prevention of a reoccurrence. However, future measures must be taken by
considering the opinions of field specialists. That is what I have been thinking
as I have been taking measures. Around June, when I was still an aide, I had the opportunity of being introduced to
Mr. Kenichi Ohmae. At that time, Mr. Kenichi Ohmae
offered his services to me to analyze the accident in a responsible way, collect information from
specialists, and submita proposal regarding methods
for measures that can be taken. I personally had been also thinking that
it is important for the government to take
such second opinions into account and if those were to be based on opinions
of a specialist such as Mr. Ohmae,
I would be extremely grateful. After that, around the end of June,
I became the Minister responsible for
the nuclear accident oversight, and had the opportunity to meet Mr. Ohmae again. At that time, I “officially”, though this might
be too strong of a word, requested Mr. Ohmae
to conduct research on this issue. As he kindly suggested to do it voluntarily,
I humbly requested him to create a report. Of course, this is not done only on my own decision,
and I have also consulted Mr. Kaieda, who was the Minister of Economy,
Trade and Industry at the time and I explained to
him that these secondary opinions would be necessary. The contents will be explained by Mr. Ohmae
afterwards, but through the preliminary exchanges, I recognize that this is a very detailed
analysis regarding this accident. Also regarding countermeasures,
especially those measures corresponding to
severe accidents such as this, I believe that this report is rich in suggestions. Therefore, the Nuclear Power Safety Agency that
I am responsible for will be newly created next April, and I am hoping to take these points into
consideration for those areas and deliberate over
each of the suggested countermeasures. Also, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is
currently responsible for the regulations regarding
nuclear safety. The Minister responsible is Mr. Edano, so I hope
to share the information with him, and implement
any of the proposals that are feasible. In either case, as we are tackling with the serious
problems of nuclear power station safety, and furthermore, as the reliability of the
governmental administration of nuclear power
safety is faltering from their roots, I feel extremely grateful to refer
to this second opinion, so I felt it would be beneficial not only to receive
this report, but to listen to the explanation with
all of you in the form of a press conference. That is the background of this conference. Next we will have an introduction of
the summary from Dr. Kenichi Ohmae. Good Evening. I am Kenichi Ohmae. As part of what can be learned from
the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant, I uploaded the television show for members of
“Business Breakthrough” that was broadcasted
on March 12th and 19th, onto YouTube, and received 2.5 million view accesses. In it, I stated my opinions such as “Regarding this
situation, things might have happened this way.”,
“In 10 years, we should do things this way.” and so on. At the same time, though I put my thoughts and
opinions in my book “Japan; The Road To Recovery”
regarding those developments and issues such as re-activation of nuclear plants and
the accident itself, I was concerned that information
has not been shared sufficiently to the public. As Minister Hosono mentioned, I made the following proposal to him who was the
aid to the Prime Minister in charge of Nuclear
Accident Recurrence Prevention at the time; It would be necessary for us to kick off
a project that investigates the severe
accidents at Fukushima Dai-ichi and the appropriateness of government’s stress
tests as second opinions from private and neutral
points of view and complete in three months. Otherwise, all the Japan’s nuclear reactors
will practically stop functioning from
March to May of next year. I suspected that such a serious situation
for Japan would come to pass. So, although it may sound funny, but as a
taxpayer or from a citizen’s standpoint,
I would like to do this project as a volunteer. I asked Mr. Hosono only for the access
to the necessary information for the project
as an intermediary. I also told him that as I will analyze
from an objective perspective, the report may not always be
as the government, or industry expects, but I would like to take on this operation
taking those points into consideration. Regarding the existence of this project,
I asked him to treat as confidential
until the report is finalized. Let me talk about the project team. I received my
doctorate degree in nuclear power engineering at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was doing core design of
high speed reactors at Hitachi, Ltd, so my memory may be quite rusty on the topic, but by remembering this knowledge, or should I say, using that, I wanted to clarify
how the nuclear reactor accident came about,
and even propose a countermeasure. The manager of this project is Mr. Iwao Shibata,
whom I will introduce a little later. Mr. Shibata,
who has experience in project management, and another person have worked
as our administrators, and after gaining access to specialists from
Tokyo Electric Power Company,
Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy, and Toshiba, I was able to organize this report
that I am submitting today. I have been a consultant at companies
such as McKinsey, and managed projects
for close to forty years, so I strove to complete this project
by the proposed deadline. I have organized the 189 page report
that was submitted today. In regards to the investigation, we analyzed not only Fukushima Dai-ichi, but also
Fukushima Dai-ni, Onagawa, and Tokai Dai-ni as well.
We compared these plants, and analyzed plants and reactors that went to
cooling and shutdown during emergencies, and
those that did not, and what differed between them. First of all, what happened? This is called the chronology, and we pursued
how the events happened in a time-line as they
occurred from the time the earthquake occurred. This is all in sheet one which is in A3
spread paper among the handouts you received. In the sheet, all the nuclear reactors
we examined are listed up: Reactor 1 to 6 of Fukushima Dai-ichi,
the four reactors of Dai-ni, the three reactors of Onagawa, and Tokai Dai-ni. As you can see, chronology of what had been
happening in these reactors
from the time of the earthquake, as well as from March 12th, 13th, and 14th
till finally the explosion of
reactor four are organized here. It was hard work, but this is the way
this report has been organized. This is sheet two.
This chart shows equipment loss of all
the nuclear reactors such as power supply of AC/DC. Therefore, there may be many people with the
impression that Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor 1 to 4
are in the most severe difficulties, but actually, other reactors are all in considerably
severe condition with the external power, or emergency power devices. The red marked devices are broken. Regardless of such extreme situations,
though not much has been broadcast,
as you will find in the sheet, in all reactors except for one, two, three,
and four of Fukushima Dai-ichi,
cold shutdown occurred well until the end. In examining this process, the fact that managers and operators
at these reactors were able to conduct cold-shutdown procedures calmly
despite the situation that
these equipments were being lost, is something we should take note of, and be proud of. As you are aware, in the case of the Three Mile
Island accident, the operators were distracted
by the accident, and continued to proceed in wrong operations one
after another, finally a nuclear meltdown occurred. But at least this did not happen in any of the
Japanese reactors other than unit 1 to 4 of Fukushima
Dai-ichi which experienced complete loss of power. This is one noteworthy point in this chronology. Also regarding the cause and effect, what was the difference in four reactors that led
to catastrophe and those that were able to carry
out cold shutdown procedure? We analyzed, or examined
the differences from this viewpoint. Also as the purpose was to find the lessons, we tried to clarify the cause-and-effect
relationship among accidents, design concepts,
and design guidelines as well as how these design concepts and design
guidelines have affected the development
of the severe accidents at each reactor. Regarding the organization and
its risk management capability, the potential problems in plant operation
on catastrophes have been examined. This includes problems with radioactivity,
evacuation directives, and
the relationships among local government bodies. And, regarding disclosure of information, we also
investigated whether the authority disclosed
gained information to the public appropriately, and if not performed, what the issues were. These are the main issues of our investigation. To state our conclusions in one sentence, the greatest lesson was not that assumptions
toward tsunami were too optimistic, but that there was no such design philosophy and
guideline that “no matter what happens, we will not
allow severe accidents to happen”. I believe that it was the greatest problem. In that meaning, the severe accident at
Fukushima Dai-ichi 4 reactors was not an act of God
but a man-made disaster. In your handouts, the Nuclear Safety Commission states
in their design guideline that the AC power does not need
to be guaranteed at all times, and if a substitute power supply
is installed and reliable, a long-term loss of AC power does not need to
be considered in the design of reactors. The biggest cause of the Fukushima
accident is in this one sentence. As cold-shutdown was performed successfully at
all the reactors where “at least”
one power source was available, the existence of such an official guideline
is a big, big problem. There was also an error in the design philosophy. As I recall when I was involved
in designing reactors, there was a fundamental design concept
that the primary containment vessel will
stand as the last bastion. There is also another one, called probability
theory, where the design conditions are evaluated
based on the probability. For example, “possibilities for those events to
happen is such and such” or “an over 20 meter high
tsunami will only come once in a thousand years and 10 meter high one is such. So we need to
consider events with up to this probability”. This is a method of Professor Rasmussen in MIT,
but it was the mistake. In other words, to bring about cold shutdown
no matter what happens, the heat sink and cooling system are needed.
No matter what happens, water, air, or some method
of cooling system and electricity must not be lost. It cannot be based on probability.
Because when it happens, it is 100%. Once the plant is activated, then it must be stopped
by any method. This has to be the essential mindset. But in reality it was thought that when
the worst accident happens,
the containment vessel will protect it. In actuality, the reactor pressurized vessel was
melted through, and hydrogen and fission products
seeped out of the containment vessel, so believing the mythology of the containment
vessel is a very large mistake. This mythology was also used at a resident’s
orientation session, but I believe
we should admit that this was a mistake. As I mentioned earlier, there is a huge mistake in the design guide
indicating that it is unnecessary to consider
the long-term loss of all AC power supplies. Another problem is the distinction between normal
use and emergency use. This time, as the emergency diesel engine’s inlet
for water is next to the one for regular use,
they were both swept away. They were all lost simultaneously. So, when thinking on it now, it lacks common sense
to place the power supplies of both custom and
emergency systems in the same fashion, but it was designed in that way. Also as the melt-down was not assumed, such an accident was not assumed that large
quantities of hydrogen were accumulated
simultaneously. Therefore, the method of releasing hydrogen
as well as handling fission product was not
considered in the design. The occurrence and dispersion of hydrogen were not
foreseen. No detectors and no way to release it. Important to say, there were a few random things
that prevented a major catastrophe though they
were not in the original design. One of these is that there was an air cooling diesel
generator in Fukushima Dai-ichi’s 6th reactor. Even when all the other (water cooling) diesel
engines and batteries were sunk, because this air cooling device existed,
and because its heat sink was the air, the diesel generator functioned and reactor six,
as well as reactor five that shared the power supply
with reactor six, was cooled and shutdown. This was not in the original design. It was added later and happened to be water
cooling type, and could function as a cooling system
by using air as its heat sink, eventually. Regarding recommendations, if we discuss about the re-activation of the nuclear
power plant, and in order to prevent such a severe
accident from ever happening again, it would be imperative to clarify responsibility
of those mistakes and problems stated in our report. For example, who was responsible for the official
design guideline in the regulatory authorities? Why had such an erroneous guide been made,
and has been left alone as it was for a long time?
Many other issues are included in the report. In spite of the fact that it is a man-made disaster,
no one has taken responsibility for the accident yet.
Should it be allowed? Also, it has been said, “next time we will set
the tsunami assumption of 20 meter” and so on. But it is necessary to consider the possibility
that a much more severe accident can occur. So we must change the design concept to “no matter
what happens, power supply, cooling source, and
ultimate heat sink have to be secured”. Any nuclear reactor that cannot meet
this requirement must not be re-activated. This is our second recommendation. On the third recommendation, even though three emergency power sources were
lined up at each reactor of Fukushima Dai-ichi,
they were all washed away. In other words, what was needed is not
the multiplexing of the same mechanism, but multiplexing of different mechanisms
with different fundamentals. Also, three independent systems of accident management
such as the one for normal, emergency,
and extreme emergency are necessary. And when a situation goes into catastrophe mode, plants must share information in real time with
local authorities, and decide together on the
procedure of evacuation, refuge, or so on. It is necessary to create offsite facilities or
platforms which are available to stakeholders including local and central governments even under
a grave accident. In the future, the command of
the self-defense force would also be deliberated. Nearly all of the world’s nuclear reactors
are built with the same design concepts
as the ones in Fukushima, so there is a possibility that
the same problems can be precipitated. We have to secure an ultimate heat sink and
power supply to the reactor,
no matter how severe the accident would be such as an airplane crash or a terrorist attack.
The cooling system must continue functioning. I hope that this point will be shared over the world. Regarding loss of “external” power supply,
the earthquake had caused much damage. At Fukushima Dai-ichi, from line one to six,
all six external power lines have been lost
by the earthquake. This is too weak. So, securing the power onsite is the key. As mentioned, the long-term loss of power
caused the fatal damage. All of the emergency power devices excluding
the previously mentioned reactor six are submerged. The cooling pumps and motors that have been placed
on the sea side have been damaged. All the DC batteries are submerged except
for the one at the reactor 3 at Dai-ichi. There were power panels for intake of
external power, but all three were submerged. So the situation is much more severe
than had been previously reported. This is a damage that was caused by a giant
tsunami that surpassed any assumption, but the true reason of the Fukushima accident
was not the optimistic assumptions of Tsunami height. Because the inlets for coolant to emergency power
supply that are lined up on the sea side could be washed out by even much smaller Tsunami,
say five meter high, and also because existence of air cooling
emergency power that was not submerged became
the boundary line between life-or-death. So, as far as considering design concepts, if it was focused on just this one point “secure
power and a cooling source under any circumstance”,
the accident should have been avoided, and could possibly be avoided in the future. I also believe that the design policy,
that is represented by one sentence of “it is
unnecessary to consider loss of all AC power over a long period of time” stated by the Nuclear Safety
Commission, disregards this extremely important point. This is the direct causes of
the major catastrophe at Fukushima. Let me talk about a message to the public. If you see sheet one, Fukushima Dai-ichi’s meltdown
had already begun on the night of March 11th. Then the hydrogen explosion took place on the next
day, implying that the reactor went into complete
meltdown sometime during midnight of 11th. In other words, there was too much of a
disassociation with the public announcement
stating that a meltdown had not occurred, and not admitting the core meltdown
even after a month had passed. I believe as our research has disclosed with
these facts very clearly,
and the real information existed there. Therefore, the question, whether disclosure of
information to the public and international society
was appropriate or not, still remains. On the other hand, at that time much rumor and
speculation was generated,
but as far as we have found, there is no data to support those rumors. For example, one of the rumors is that events and
meltdown of Fukushima Dai-ichi was accelerated
because infusion of sea water or implementation of vents was delayed.
As far as we have examined,
there are no data supporting this assumption. Another rumor is that because large-scale pipe
rupture occurred due to the earthquake, event
development at reactor one was accelerated. We have not found any evidence supporting
this theory during the research. Another rumor is that because the containment
vessel in reactor one was a Mark I type, the accident
in this reactor was significantly accelerated. In Fukushima, reactors one to five contain Mark I
types and only reactor six contains a Mark II. As far as seeing the cause of the accident in all
six reactors, there is no difference between
Mark I and Mark II. Also there is a speculation that there was extreme
operational error at Fukushima Dai-ichi, which
accelerated the event progression. However, as far as we have examined,
this is also false. Of course, in the pitch dark where the meters
could not be read, I would not say that
there were completely no errors. Also there are some saying that the main reason for the hydrogen explosion was
the meltdown of used fuel, but evidence supporting this idea
has not been found, either. The main cause, as I have mentioned
previously again and again, is in the fact that the safety concept and design
philosophy was flawed. It has to be that power and cooling source
to the plant have to be secured
regardless of the circumstances. And regarding future recurrence prevention,
I strongly recommend
we discuss this point more specifically. At last, even in this major earthquake,
all nuclear reactors have scrammed normally. It has been a major pending question
at the time of design whether it would really scram during an earthquake,
in other words, whether inserting the control rods
would really stop the reactor or not. However, following the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear
power plant case, Higashi-dori, Onagawa, Fukushima Dai-ni, Dai-ichi,
and Tokai, all reactors have scrammed so far. It is a notable fact, and that even
large-scale pipe rupture has not occurred. Also the operation team at Dai-ichi, who were
handling such catastrophic problems onsite amidst
the extreme danger right after March 11th, had no choice but to use their ingenuity
above the manual, in conditions with no power. We believe this is not something to be blamed,
but that they should be commended for their efforts. Regarding the contents of the report,
all 189 pages will be made public on a web site. And this press conference, my explanation, and
detailed explanation of the report will be
in viewable format by this evening. Live video of this debriefing will be covered
on YouTube and Ustream after six o’clock today. In other words, this report in its entirety
will be available for the public tonight. On the other hand, regarding the PWRs, the deliberation has not been concluded, but with
all of your cooperation, I would like to continue. We will not accept media coverage,
regarding related questions. But if there are thoughts regarding the fact
such as “Is this a mistake or not?”,
I would be glad to receive e-mails and answer them. This is the end of my explanation. Special thanks to:
Ms Jewel Naruse
Ms Seiko Toyama
Mr. Curtis Hoffmann
Ms Keiko Sato

Robin Kshlerin



  1. Carmelo Serraino Posted on April 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Tutto il mondo continua ad apprendere dagli incidenti sull'uso pacifico dell'energia nucleare, solo l'Italia con l'incidente di Chernobyl si è rinchiusa nel suo guscio di paura favorito dalla disinformazione organizzata dalle lobby a cui il nucleare da fastidio trascinando la nazione al tracollo della conoscenza scientifica e dell'economia.

  2. Elaine Thompson Posted on April 20, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Thank you for taking the time to add English subtitles.

  3. arashiarashiarashi59 Posted on July 25, 2012 at 8:22 am


  4. Yoshida Takeshi Posted on October 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm