( I wrote this module before the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. That accident involved Japan's largest public utility and four separate reactors on the same site. The Tokaimura accident below is more instructive, because it is smaller and the issue did not involve earthquakes or tsunamis, just unsafe management. Here is a good site, if you want to know more about Fukushima. Or, here is a brief article about the likely health effects, Nature. )

This Submodule will ask you to explore what happened in the town of Tokaimura, a little northwest of Tokyo, Japan. There was a plant that recycled ("reprocessed") spent fuel from nuclear power plants. There was an accident, basically a chain reaction, that started in a tank where it was "impossible" for the chain reaction to happen. Where you are going with this assignment is to summarize, based on what you have learned so far in this course, what could have been done better by the plant owner, both before the accident and after. The details are involved, so to get you warmed up, here are three articles from New York Times for your review and classroom use. You can see how the story progressed and get an idea about what happened. [I realize that below is a lot of reading, but it has lots of details about the mistakes made. But, let me suggest you look at Assignment below first, then review those other modules, and then make notes as your read.]

1 Oct 99

2 Oct 99

23 Oct 99

Now for some more technical data, you should be able to grasp the main issues, even though the following does not explain details of the process involved. This is a PowerPoint presentation made by Fluor Daniel Hanford. Fluor Daniel is the contractor that manages rehabilitation work at the U.S. Department of Energy site in Hanford, Washington. Hanford is one of the most contaminated sites in the US. Some of the contamination is radioactive, most is not. The F-D representatives were sent to Tokaimura to learn what happened and (my guess) determine if it could happen at Hanford. So look at this slide presentation.

Fluor Daniel's Presentation.

Finally here is a Word document that is a little more technical. I received it from an IH friend of mine by Email and you can see the authorship is confusing and it was written a few days after the accident happened. It has still more technical details. Tokaimura Word document.


Do a quick review of the major topics and learning goals of Modules 4, 5, and 6A. Then go through the Tokaimura incident and identify items that the owner of the plant should have or could have done differently. You should find five to eight things, each leading to a short paragraph. Describe what was or wasn't done, how it affected the incident,and what should have been done. We will revisit Tokaimura when we do Module 9 in a few weeks. Module 9 discusses risk communication, public involvement and community right to know, so you don't need to spend time on those topics for this assignment.

Module 06 Index.

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