10 years later Fukushima Daiichi still melts down my heart

Ten years ago this month, 22,000 Japanese citizens died in a huge tsunami that also caused the second-worst nuclear accident in history at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. Because I know about nuclear safety, I wrote a total of four columns about the accident in the month that followed. You can read them in order here, here, here and here.

When I wrote within hours of the accident that none of the 11 reactors would ever operate again, I was the sole voice on the planet saying so out loud. Read the comments and you’ll see I took some flak for […]

COVID-19 Lessons from Three Mile Island #2 — the NRC

My last column was about crisis management lessons I learned back in 1979 while investigating the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island (TMI). Let’s just say that FEMA wasn’t ready for a nuclear meltdown. Today we turn to the other federal agency I investigated at that same time — the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). While FEMA was simply unprepared and incompetent, the NRC was unprepared and lied about it.

Like FEMA, the NRC had recently undergone a rebranding from its previous identity as the Atomic Energy Commission — a schizoid agency that had been charged […]

Is anything nuclear ever really super safe small and simple?

Absent some terrible news from Japan this will be my second and last column about the nuclear accidents unfolding there. It turned out I was right last time about the sodium polyboride or boric acid or whatever neutron absorber the Japanese authorities dumped in first one and now two reactors along with a lot of sea water in an attempt to quench the reaction heat. I think it is pretty clear, too, that most of these reactors will not be coming back online… ever. This column looks at what that can mean for the nuclear industry in Japan and I also want to look at how these accidents are or aren’t like Chernobyl — a comparison I am seeing far too often in news […]