Despite advances in protecting U.S. nuclear plants, more work must be done to make sure they can withstand such natural catastrophes as the earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.
That's the recommendation from a federal report released Thursday that investigated the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which forced the evacuation of 300,000 people from the region and drew renewed attention to the dangers of nuclear power.
The National Academy of Sciences, which was commissioned to investigate the incident, found that U.S. plants are designed to withstand crises such as equipment failures, loss of power, or an inability to cool the reactor core. But it's the "beyond-design-basis events," like natural disasters, that pose the greater risk and have been behind meltdowns at Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl.
John Garrick, one of the 21 members of the commission that wrote the report, said that currently operators and planners may have a "tendency to compartmentalize," but that more needs to be done to consider all possible threats. That includes designing plants to withstand disasters and training staff for "ad hoc" emergencies.