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Capitol Health Call
May 14, 2014

Boosting Nuclear Power Plant Safety

Author Affiliations

Copyright American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;311(18):1847. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.5032

Countries have taken steps to strengthen their nuclear safety programs in response to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO). After a massive earthquake on March 11, 2011, a 50-foot tsunami disabled 3 of the plant’s 6 nuclear reactors, causing the most extensive release of radioactive material at a nuclear power plant since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

The GAO report, requested by Sen Tom Carper (D, Del), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, was released on March 11. It noted that all nuclear regulatory bodies in 16 selected countries—13 that currently operate nuclear power reactors and 3 that are developing or considering civilian nuclear power programs—have built up their safety programs with a focus on considering previously unimagined accident scenarios (http://tinyurl.com/k9r5cor). Belgium, Canada, Russia, and the United States are now planning for accident scenarios that could involve multiple reactors at a single power plant.