IntroductionFukushima Nuclear Disaster was characterised by a series of nuclear meltdowns, equipment failures and emission of radioactive materials. According to Hasegawa (2012: 85) the disaster was the second most severe and largest nuclear disaster after the Chernobyl disaster which occurred in 1986. The severity of both nuclear disasters was ranked 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. This disaster resulted to the emission of radioactive materials which caused catastrophic harm to individuals, the environment and industries. People living around the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant were evacuated and lost their homes.
Tourism, agriculture, fishing and other businesses within this area were significantly affected by this disaster (Osaka 2012). In addition to this, there were over 30 reported cases of severe injuries due to radiation burns. Although there were no immediate reported death cases, an empirical study conducted Hoeve & Jacobson (2012) predicted that the amount of radiation released as a result of the disaster would eventually result to 130 cancer-related death cases. The study showed that the magnitude of the radiation released during the disaster was lower than that released during the Chernobyl disaster (Hoeve & Jacobson 2012).
The cause of this nuclear disaster has been attributed to operation failures on the part of the management of the plant. For instance, Funabashi (2012) asserts that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is a man-made calamity brought about by technological and operational failures. Similarly, the Japanese Parliament Independent Investigation Commission report which was published in July 2012 established that the nuclear disaster was profoundly a man-made disaster that could have been predicted and averted. Moreover, the report stated that the impacts of the disaster could have been mitigated through more effective and efficient human responses.
The key aim of this paper is to examine the operation risk failures that contributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The finding of this paper will be based on a critical review of the provided case study and other reports on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Operation risk failuresGenerally, operational risks failures can be described as failures resulting from mishaps, inadequacies or failed internal systems, process and even people. Operational risks failures can also be considered as adverse outcomes and events that occur as a result of an organisation’s activities (Magnusson, Prasad & Storkey 2010: 1). Emergency Preparedness and ResponseBased on the findings depicted in the provided case study, it is evident that, emergency preparedness and response is one of key the operation risk failure that characterised the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It is apparent that the operators and regulators managing the nuclear plant lacked effective approaches, systems or processes of emergency preparedness and response. Effective emergency preparedness and response entails strategic management systems and processes that are put in place and executed in order to deter or minimize hazard risks that can cause the occurrence of catastrophes or disasters (Haddow, Bullock & Cappola 2011).
As a result of the earthquake, three out of six operating reactors automatically shutdown. Consequently, the emergency generators were activated to regulate coolant systems. Nevertheless, the tsunami that followed the earthquake flooded the rooms in the lower sections where the emergency generators were kept causing the generators to become dysfunctional thus failing to supply power to critical pumps which supply coolant water that deter the reactors from melting down.