After the Fukushima fiasco just a year ago, many wondered if nuclear energy was worth it after all. Recently, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), declared that we’ve made significant progress in upgrading safety standards since Fukushima.
From The Huffington Post:
“Significant progress has also been made in reviewing the agency’s safety standards which continue to be widely applied by regulators, operators and the nuclear industry in general.”
Fukushima, of course, was notorious for the scale and scope of the failure it experienced and its impact. Hit by both an earthquake and a tsunami, it lost all power supply and had all backup power and cooling systems fail. As a result, three out of six reactors went into nuclear meltdown. Over 150,000 local residents had to evacuate, many permanently.
Internationally, the incident caused plenty of self-doubt. Japan last month had a government-appointed inquiry question whether the country was prepared for similar incidents at other nuclear plants. Over in Belgium, the regulatory agency decided to pause development on a nuclear facility until further review.
The IAEA plan broadly outlines volunteer steps to be taken in order to help reduce the risk of Fukushima-style incidents in the future, and asks that all nuclear nations institute immediate and thorough reviews of all operational plants, especially with a view to their resistance to natural forces.
Nuclear companies all over the world are now reviewing their reactors. The plan in question has encountered resistance from Greenpeace as well as some international resistance, with Germany and France calling for more international commitment, while India, China, and the U.S. stress that such safety protocols ought to be left up to individual nations. Greenpeace argues that there needs to be a systemic overhaul rather than patchwork regulation.