The regulatory impact of Japan’s Fukushima crisis extends far past the island nation’s shores, says a U.S. report issued on the disaster’s third anniversary.
More than a dozen other countries enacted safety reforms at nonmilitary atomic sites following the severe damage inflicted on Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by the earthquake and tsunami of Mar. 11, 2011, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office. The failure of auxiliary power systems at the facility led to cooling-system failures and meltdowns in three of its six reactors, allowing radioactive material to escape into the air and neighboring sea.
Governments with established nuclear-energy programs have responded in part by conducting safety checks, including comprehensive “stress tests” that can scrutinize a facility’s ability to withstand an extremist assault, the assessment indicates.
The report’s authors said nuclear-safety planners are now “considering previously unimagined accident scenarios,” including disasters “that could involve multiple reactors at a single power plant.”
“In addition, new requirements for emergency equipment, such as backup electric generators, in case of the loss of off-site power, as occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, are an area of focus among the regulatory bodies in GAO’s review,” the auditors wrote.
The investigators said some areas are still in need of improvement, including an international “peer-review” framework to help scrutinize how well various states are complying with International Atomic Energy Agency safety guidelines. That system, auditors wrote, lacks a mechanism for following up on whether vetted governments follow through on recommendations.
GAO officials said the U.S. State Department and Nuclear Regulatory Commission should “encourage” the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency “to systematically track the status of recommendations made by IAEA peer review missions.”
The congressional report examined nuclear-policy responses to the Fukushima disaster in 16 countries, and identified new reforms in all of them: Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
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In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
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Conrad Burns, the colorful livestock auctioneer and radio executive from Montana who served three terms as a senator, died on Thursday at age 81. Burns "was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to "super-lobbyist" Jack Abramoff," although no charges were ever filed.
In an exchange not ripped from the page of The Onion, Vice President Biden revealed to a Vatican cardinal that he's been betting reporters on which cars are faster. After meeting privately with Pope Francis, Biden met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. Within moments of greeting one another, Biden said that he'd met with the pope and, gesturing to the press pool, "I've met with these guys too." Singling out reporter Gardiner Harris, who recounted the exchange, he said, "I had to pay this man $10. He's from the New York Times. We had a bet: which is the faster car, the newer Cadillac or the new [Tesla]. ... The Tesla's two tenths of a second faster. But I lost. I paid my $10." He joked that he's "seeking absolution."
Donald Trump held his first rally in California Thursday night, and things were chaotic: "Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where ... stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate. Traffic came to a halt as a boisterous crowd walked in the roadway, some waving American and Mexican flags. Protesters smashed a window on at least one police cruiser, punctured the tires of a police sport utility vehicle, and at one point tried to flip a police car."