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.
What We're Following See More »
"Even as he acknowledged the importance of an open internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday set his telecom agency on a course to scrap the tough, broad net neutrality protections imposed by the Obama administration. During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors." Separately, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie that the Clinton Administration "basically got it right when it came to digital infrastructure. We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."
The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), as called for in a presidential executive order from January. The new office's website states that its staff "will be guided by a singular, straightforward mission—to ensure victims and their families have access to releasable information about a perpetrator and to offer assistance explaining the immigration removal process."