As the first nuclear reactor in Japan resumes operation following the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Woody reflects on the dangers of measuring safety and success merely on the absence of accidents.

The new regulations are a challenge to the operating companies, involving new analyses and, in many cases, costly retrofits. I have been involved in fire safety analyses and earthquake fault analyses at over 10 nuclear power units in Japan to support restart. We have found the operating staffs and headquarter personnel deeply concerned with safety and doing the right thing. They are doing an excellent job to correct the weak points of the plants, both in engineering and organizationally.

These same activities are being performed at nuclear plants all over the world under names such as “stress tests” or “FLEX” programs. But questions remain: “Are the nuclear plants safe? Will these programs protect us from the next unexpected event?” This remains to be seen.

You can read the full article at Nikkei Asian Review — Woody Epstein: The danger of ‘it can’t happen here’ or on PDF.