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Accident like the Fukushima unlikely in a country with effective nuclear regulation: Literature review and proposed guidelines


  • Wang, Qiang
  • Chen, Xi
  • Yi-chong, Xu


The reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) have confirmed that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) survived the initial earthquake impacts, but fell victim to the following tsunami. The 14-m tsunami well exceeded the maximum safety design of 5.7m. It damaged the pumps, cut off the external power supplies to cool the reactors and spent fuel pool, and directly contributed to the three core meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. These official reports, academic papers, and breaking news also show that five warnings of tsunamis at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP had been ignored by the nuclear operator and regulators since 2000. This article argues that not the natural disaster, but the regulatory failures contributed to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. It explains how the cozy relationship between the government, regulators and nuclear operators, the combined role of NISA as an industry promoter and regulator, and the revolving door between bureaucrats and industries had long undermined the capacity of NISA as a watchdog for nuclear safety. It concludes that upgrading and strengthening a nuclear regulatory system is not optional but imperative to prevent the next core meltdown. Three key recommendations are offered for upgrading nuclear safety regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang, Qiang & Chen, Xi & Yi-chong, Xu, 2013. "Accident like the Fukushima unlikely in a country with effective nuclear regulation: Literature review and proposed guidelines," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 126-146.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:17:y:2013:i:c:p:126-146
    DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2012.09.012

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Goebel, Jan & Krekel, Christian & Tiefenbach, Tim & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2013. "Natural Disaster, Policy Action, and Mental Well-Being: The Case of Fukushima," IZA Discussion Papers 7691, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Jan Goebel & Christian Krekel & Tim Tiefenbach & Nicholas R. Ziebarth, 2014. "Natural Disaster, Environmental Concerns, Well-Being and Policy Action," CINCH Working Paper Series 1405, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    3. Lam, J. & Cheung, L. & Han, Y. & Wang, S., 2018. "China’s Response to Nuclear Safety Post-Fukushima: Genuine or Rhetoric?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1866, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    4. repec:eee:rensus:v:90:y:2018:i:c:p:90-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Contu, Davide & Strazzera, Elisabetta & Mourato, Susana, 2016. "Modeling individual preferences for energy sources: The case of IV generation nuclear energy in Italy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 37-58.
    6. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:1:p:290-:d:195837 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Qiang Wang & Rongrong Li & Rui Jiang, 2016. "Decoupling and Decomposition Analysis of Carbon Emissions from Industry: A Case Study from China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-17, October.
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:9:p:3034-:d:165923 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Liu, Dehai & Xiao, Xingzhi & Li, Hongyi & Wang, Weiguo, 2015. "Historical evolution and benefit–cost explanation of periodical fluctuation in coal mine safety supervision: An evolutionary game analysis framework," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 243(3), pages 974-984.
    10. Wang, Qiang & Jha, Awadhesh N. & Chen, Xi & Dong, Jie-fang & Wang, Xing-min, 2015. "The future of nuclear safety: vital role of geoscientists?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 239-243.
    11. Jan Goebel & Christian Krekel & Tim Tiefenbach & Nicolas Ziebarth, 2015. "How natural disasters can affect environmental concerns, risk aversion, and even politics: evidence from Fukushima and three European countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 1137-1180, October.
    12. Hong, Sanghyun & Bradshaw, Corey J.A. & Brook, Barry W., 2015. "Global zero-carbon energy pathways using viable mixes of nuclear and renewables," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 451-459.
    13. Tzu-Husan Lin & Der-Cherng Liaw, 2015. "Development of an intelligent disaster information-integrated platform for radiation monitoring," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 76(3), pages 1711-1725, April.
    14. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:2:p:334-:d:196701 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Yuan, Xueliang & Wang, Xujiang & Zuo, Jian, 2013. "Renewable energy in buildings in China—A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-8.
    16. Wang, Qiang & Chen, Xi & Jha, Awadhesh N. & Rogers, Howard, 2014. "Natural gas from shale formation – The evolution, evidences and challenges of shale gas revolution in United States," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 1-28.


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