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Fukushima + 5: Where things stand today

Dan Farber, professor of law | March 11, 2016

Five years ago today, Japan was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami, resulting in the Fukushima reactor meltdowns. Where do things stand today? Here’s a quick wrap-up: Compensation.  The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the utility operating the reactors, now estimates that it will pay $56 billion in compensation to victims. Clean-up. The plant … Continue reading »

Fukushima whodunit

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | July 9, 2012

In a remarkable and significant new report, Japanese experts have concluded that the Fukushima nuclear accident was a “man”-made disaster – phrased this way perhaps in a gallant effort to allow all women to distance themselves from the decision making process. This dramatic conclusion prompts yet another question: If “man” isn’t responsible, then who is? … Continue reading »

Risk assessment post-Fukushima: Going beyond the ‘design-basis event’

Dan Farber, professor of law | March 12, 2012

A conventional approach to safety is based on the concept of design events.  A building code might say, for example, that a building should be able to survive a 7.0 earthquake.  This approach has been basic to the regulation of nuclear reactors.  As the interim report of the post-Fukushima NRC task force explains: [The regulation[ … Continue reading »

Fukushima nuclear crisis: A disaster deemed ‘inconceivable’

Dan Farber, professor of law | February 27, 2012

During the Fukushima nuclear crisis, government officials and industry representatives said that the tsunami that struck the reactors was “beyond our imagination,” thus excusing the failure to consider such a risk in the planning process. As it turns out, there had been warnings about this possibility, but the risks were ignored. The reactor was situated … Continue reading »

Post-tsunami Japan teaches the world about energy within limits

Steven Weissman, associate director, Center for Law, Energy and the Environment | August 1, 2011

Earlier this summer, I accompanied a class of renewable-energy law students to a home in Vermont that is “off the grid.” The family lives quite comfortably — television, microwave oven, electric washing machine, sizable refrigerator. With the exception of a small diesel generator, which they use once or twice a year, they derive all of … Continue reading »