The 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident

The 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident

How and Why It Happened

1st Edition - November 26, 2014

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  • Authors: Yotaro Hatamura, Seiji Abe, Masao Fuchigami, Naoto Kasahara, Kenji Iino
  • eBook ISBN: 9780081001325
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780081001189

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In March 2011 the Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) in Japan was hit by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami which resulted in the release of significant amounts of radioactive material. The incident led to the suspension of nuclear programmes by a number of countries. This book provides a definitive account of the accident.

Key Features

  • Outlines the main sequence of events of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, considers the responses of central and local government, and evaluates the response of the plant owner TEPCO
  • Describes and assesses the effectiveness of the evacuation process and subsequent decontamination of the site and local area
  • Offers recommendations for improving the safe design and operation of nuclear power plants and considers the future of the Fukushima plant and nuclear power generation in Japan


Safety managers, designers and engineers of nuclear power plants, government agencies responsible for the regulation of the nuclear industry, and academics conducting research into nuclear plant design, operation and safety will find this book an essential record of the event and an informative guide to future planning

Table of Contents

  • 1. The Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant accident

    • Abstract
    • 1.1 Introduction
    • 1.2 Energy production in Japan
    • 1.3 The Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant
    • 1.4 The Tohoku Area Pacific Offshore Earthquake and tsunami
    • 1.5 Nuclear power safety and disaster prevention systems in Japan
    • 1.6 Conclusions

    2. The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident: the main sequence of events

    • Abstract
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Outline of primary facilities at the Fukushima plant
    • 2.3 The sequence of events from earthquake and tsunami to station blackout (SBO)
    • 2.4 Possible damage caused by the earthquake
    • 2.5 The condition of Unit 1 after SBO
    • 2.6 The condition of Unit 3 after SBO
    • 2.7 The condition of Unit 2 after SBO
    • 2.8 Sequence of events leading to hydrogen explosions in Units 1, 3, and 4
    • 2.9 The process of water injection into the spent fuel pools
    • 2.10 How the accident might have been avoided
    • 2.11 Background to nuclear power generation
    • 2.12 Conclusions

    3. The response of central and local government agencies to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident

    • Abstract
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Central government: key responsibilities and preparatory measures
    • 3.3 The response and preparedness of the central government
    • 3.4 Local government: key responsibilities
    • 3.5 Conclusions: key lessons and improvements needed
    • Appendix Government offices and organizations

    4. The response of the plant owner/operator (TEPCO) to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident

    • Abstract
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Accident management by Fukushima's nuclear plant owner and operator, TEPCO
    • 4.3 TEPCO's risk assessment and safety planning documentation at the Fukushima plant
    • 4.4 Assessing the postaccident responses of TEPCO
    • 4.5 Why procedures were inadequate: organizational problems within TEPCO
    • 4.6 Conclusions

    5. Evacuation and decontamination in response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident

    • Abstract
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.2 Evacuation of local residents
    • 5.3 Predicting and monitoring the leak of radioactive material after the Fukushima accident
    • 5.4 The impact of nuclear radiation on the human body
    • 5.5 Assessing the evacuation process in response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident
    • 5.6 Radioactivity, radioactive material, and radiation
    • 5.7 Benefits and challenges of evacuation
    • 5.8 Effectiveness of methods to decontaminate the site and local area
    • 5.9 Conclusions: key lessons learned in the evacuation, return, and decontamination at Fukushima's nuclear power plant

    6. Learning from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident

    • Abstract
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 Learning from accidents: key findings from the official investigation
    • 6.3 Recommendations for improving the safe design and operation of NPPs
    • 6.4 Comparing the Fukushima accident with other nuclear incidents
    • 6.5 Reflections from the Chairman of the official Investigation Committee on the accident at the Fukushima NPP
    • 6.6 Conclusions

    7. The future of nuclear power generation after the Fukushima accident

    • Abstract
    • 7.1 Introduction
    • 7.2 Restarting the Fukushima plant
    • 7.3 Conclusions: the future of nuclear power in Japan

Product details

  • No. of pages: 220
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Woodhead Publishing 2014
  • Published: November 26, 2014
  • Imprint: Woodhead Publishing
  • eBook ISBN: 9780081001325
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780081001189

About the Authors

Yotaro Hatamura

Affiliations and Expertise

Hatamura Institute for the Advancement of Technology, Japan

Seiji Abe

Dr. Seiji Abe is a Professor at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, where he studies societal safety science in order to prevent accidents and disasters that are avoidable by scientific analysis and preparation. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Introduction to Societal Safety Sciences, published by Kansai University. He also served as Vice President of Kansai University for three years, where he led efforts to build the new school of Societal Safety Sciences. He has held a number of leadership and committee positions for professional societies and government organizations including serving as the President of the Japan Society of Public Utility Economics.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor, Societal Safety Sciences, Kansai University, Japan

Masao Fuchigami

Affiliations and Expertise

Komatsu Ltd., Japan

Naoto Kasahara

Affiliations and Expertise

The University of Tokyo, Japan

Kenji Iino

Affiliations and Expertise


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