Martin Melosi, University of Houston
Sonja Schmid, Virginia Tech
J. Samuel Walker, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The March 11, 2011 earthquake and Tsunami that devastated Japan introduced a new generation to the hazards of civilian nuclear power. Far more than the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the explosions and core meltdowns that rocked four of the Fukushima reactors provided stark displays of the hazards related to regulating complex technologies, hazards that engineers and scientists have grappled with for a half century. The history of severe accidents provides essential context for a public evaluation of nuclear power’s future role, if any, in global energy consumption.
This roundtable of scholars will offer an international, comparative discussion of severe nuclear accidents, and provide context on the early recognition of possible reactor meltdowns, differing national approaches to the prevention, mitigation, and management of severe accidents, political considerations, and public views of reactor risks. Panelists will also consider the Cold-War legacy of nuclear power, and how national weapons programs have contributed to severe accidents and complicated their management in a post-Fukushima world.