Nearly a year after an earthquake and massive tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility in Japan, many U.S. experts still are in Japan assisting the recovery efforts.

The U.S. provided scores of radiation detectors and trained both the U.S. military and Japanese personnel on how to use them.

The U.S. provided scores of radiation detectors and trained both the U.S. military and Japanese personnel on how to use them.

U.S. organizations with expertise and capabilities in nuclear energy mobilized quickly and offered critical help in the aftermath of the natural disaster on March 11, 2011. While some lent equipment and expertise, others responded with humanitarian aid for residents left homeless by nature’s destruction.

Radiation specialists from the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory were among the first people on the ground in Japan. Experts from the lab’s Radiological Assistance Program (RAP), who are on call to respond to any release of radiological materials in the United States, took hundreds of radiation readings and collected soil samples in the region around the stricken Japanese plant.

The data and samples they gathered will assist Japan’s recovery and provide a more detailed understanding of the radiological aspects of the accident. The U.S. provided scores of radiation detectors and trained both the U.S. military and Japanese personnel on how to use them.
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The following story originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.

Radiation health experts said at a Washington press briefing that based on the radiological data collected, the health effects of the Fukushima accident should be very minimal for both the public and workers.

“From a radiological perspective, we expect the impact to be really, really minor,” said Kathyrn Higley, professor of radiation health physics in the department of nuclear engineering at Oregon State University. “And the reason for that is we understand how radionuclides move through the environment, how they disperse and how people can be exposed. Because we understand that we are able to make decisions to block exposure.”
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Making Safe Nuclear Energy SaferWith the anniversary of the incident at Fukushima Daiichi almost upon us, it’s only natural for the public and other stakeholders to ask questions about the safety of America’s nuclear energy facilities. To answer those questions, NEI has published a white paper entitled, “Making Safe Nuclear Energy Safer.”

The following passage is from the document’s Executive Summary:

The nuclear energy industry’s primary and constant goal is to make safe nuclear energy facilities even safer. A decades-long commitment to safety and continuous learning is reflected in the operational focus and safety culture at our facilities. Companies that operate 104 U.S. reactors review safety procedures continually and update their facilities and training programs with lessons learned from those reviews.
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  • International Atomic Energy Agency experts are in Japan this week to verify the Japanese government’s recent approval of the safety of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi 3 and 4, based on the results of European Union-style “stress tests.” James Lyons, director of IAEA’s nuclear installation safety division, said the final decision on restarting reactors shut down for safety inspections will rest with Japanese authorities. Passing the stress tests is a prerequisite for shutdown reactors to resume operation.
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Fukushima Daini Workers Laying Cables

TEPCO Workers Lay Cables to Restore Power to Fukushima Daini

Struggling against earthquake aftershocks, devastating floodwaters and debris, employees at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daini nuclear energy facility safely shut down all four of the facility’s reactors within days of the historic 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11. The facility is located only seven miles southwest of its sister plant, Fukushima Daiichi, and produces enough electricity to power roughly three million homes and businesses in Japan.

When the earthquake struck, the Fukushima Daini facility automatically shut down safely as designed. However, it went into a state of emergency following the tsunami when water damage disrupted heat removal systems in three of the four reactors.

TEPCO reactor operators were able to quickly bring reactor 3, which had retained its heat removal function, into stable condition in a matter of hours. Meanwhile, other employees worked feverishly around-the-clock to reestablish heat removal capability in the other three reactors and finished stabilizing them by March 15.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First