Fukushima on Young Members’ agenda

By Elia Merzari

The American Nuclear Society’s Young Members Group, with the help of ANS’s Nuclear Installation Safety Division, is organizing a panel session at the Young Professionals Congress (an embedded topical at the 2011 ANS Winter Meeting) on the history of severe nuclear accidents.

A primary focus for the YMG is the transfer of knowledge, and this session will provide unique perspectives from individuals involved in the world’s most prominent nuclear events. The lessons learned from these front-line individuals will be invaluable for the new generation of workers in the nuclear power industry.

Before the events at Fukushima in Japan, the most recent severe accident took place more than 25 years ago at Chernobyl, making it reasonable for  younger people to have a slim perspective on the impacts of severe events. In addition, young members may have a limited knowledge of past accidents and certainly won’t have direct personal experience. The panel session at the winter meeting will focus on the lessons learned from Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, and how these events have profoundly shaped our understanding of severe accidents. In particular, this session will also address how these lessons have been applied to the response to Fukushima.

With the help of Alan Levin, of Areva, we are able to bring together notable panelists who will tackle the issues from different perspectives:

  • Michael Corradini (University of Wisconsin, ANS Special Committee on Fukushima and ANS vice president/president-elect) will give a brief summary on the conclusions drawn by the ANS special committee.
  • Masanori Naitoh (Institute of Applied Energy, Japan) will discuss in detail the event sequence at Fukushima, and address the very important question, “Why did such a catastrophe occur, even after the lessons learned from TMI and Chernobyl?”
  • Dana Powers (Sandia National Laboratory) and Joy Rempe (Idaho National Laboratory) will discuss what was learned from TMI and Chernobyl. Powers also will discuss the history of the source term in the TMI accident, while Rempe will address insights from TMI’s accident progression. Rempe’s presentation will include videos related to the events immediately following the accident and the relocated debris and damaged internal structures within the TMI-2 vessel.
  • Brian Sheron (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) will discuss the regulator perspective on severe accidents with a focus on recent events.

We hope that you will attend this session at the 2011 Young Professionals Congress, scheduled in the morning on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington DC.


Elia Merzari is the current YMG secretary. He works as a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, where his research interests include nuclear thermal-hydraulics, modeling and simulation of nuclear reactors, and accelerator driven systems.

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