For the sake of propriety, shouldn’t there be a provision in the IAEA Charter that shifts responsibility to a deputy or non-involved board member for investigation, response and recovery task management if an incident occurs in the current Director General‘s country?
The current Director General, Yukiya Amano is a graduate of the Tokyo University Faculty of Law. He has a very impressive history! After a 30 year academic career, he joined the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His nuclear resume began in 1993 as the Director, Nuclear Energy Division, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While he does have extensive nuclear expertise, this is a problem in his home country.
News agencies have all questioned the propriety of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPKO) being “in charge” of trying to resolve this crisis at Fukushima I. What are the rules? Who has the authority to make these decisions? You can read more in the FAQ and publications page on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) site. According to the Wikipedia data page, Fukushima Dai-ichi is one of the 15 largest nuclear power stations in the world using six light water reactors which produced an impressive 4.7 GW until the tragic 8.9 earthquake and catastrophic Tsunami on 11 March 2011. You can read more details about the plant, its genesis and construction at Wikipedia’s Fukushima I’s Nuclear Power Plant page.
Even if a country is “unprepared” for an earthquake / tsunami combo of this magnitude as Japan has finally admitted, are there not standard processes/procedures/checklists that should be executed without delay upon the first warning/notification of a potential threat to nuclear power stations? Experts should be on site monitoring and sharing weather, seismic, communications, health and radiation data as soon as an incident is reported. This information should be rapidly shared across all public communications platforms with appropriate measures/precautions to be taken by health and human services organizations, hospitals, emergency services, individuals and authorities in government.
Luckily we have a population of empowered people that break through the silence in many situations…using social media. Like in past tragedies, you will find the fastest, easiest to use communications tools are the first to be used.
- Google quickly established a “Google People Finder” to assist family and friends find loved ones.
- Users rapidly swarmed around the micro-blogging power of Twitter to bring data updates across the globe.
- Experts and individuals alike aggregated information to capture the events of the disaster on Wikipedia.
Social media will continue to rise to the top as THE solution for rapid communications with the growing popularity of wireless/mobile devices.
In a crisis such as this one and others like Haiti, and Katrina, time is the most precious resource in aiding successful rescue and recovery operations. If all involved with each incident had a place (perhaps a Wiki on the IAEA web page) to report “What went wrong!” and “What went right!” with these events, we could better facilitate preventative measures and more rapid responses in future disasters. Where is that repository of data? Who has it? Who is sharing it?
The after actions aspects of disaster management must have our global focus to help shape and improve policies and procedures. Focusing a bit on the second and third order effects of a disaster would also help us better understand the cost consequences (global economies/stock markets/currency values, food supplies, trade impacts) locally and globally.
My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all the peoples of Japan who have lost loved ones, possessions, property, and jobs as a result of this disaster. My hope is that solutions are swift for Fukushima Dai-ichi challenges, and that fundraising levels will increase to help meet the needs of those without power, food, shelter, and transportation. May you be comforted in your grief, and your losses restored.
- Japan nuclear situation not deteriorating: IAEA (reuters.com)
- IAEA chief heading to Japan to face nuclear crisis (calgaryherald.com)
- You: IAEA sees stabilization at reactor, as cooling continues (earthtimes.org)
- Atomic Agency Chief: Nukes Harmed By Disaster (news.sciencemag.org)
- IAEA chief urges Japan to provide more info on nuke plant crisis – Xinhua (news.google.com)
- Atomic Agency’s Role Questioned (online.wsj.com)
- UPDATE 3-IAEA chief heading to Japan to face nuclear crisis (reuters.com)
- Japan Raises Severity Rating of Nuclear Disaster – Voice of America (news.google.com)
- UK team ‘disgusted’ at travel block (mirror.co.uk)
- Nuclear power stations and reactors operational around the world: listed and mapped (guardian.co.uk)
- Cable reaches Japan atomic site (bbc.co.uk)