This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Mahesh Khupse Student ID: 1251741 Engineering corporate social Responsibility 709402
Table of Content:
1. Introduction …………………………………………………………..…………. 1 2. Analysing the disaster ………………………………………………………….. 1 3. Duty Ethics Violations ………………………………………………………….. 2 4. Health and Safety Ethics …………………………………………………….….. 3 5. Environmental Damages ………………………………………………………... 5 6. Use of Nuclear facilities for power Generation ……………………………….... 7 7. Social responsibility of Nuclear Power Plant Operator …………………............ 7 8. Code of ethics for engineers ………………………………………………….… 8 9. References ……………………………………………………………………... 10 10. Appendix ……………………………………………………………………... 11
List of Figures Figure 1: Typical Evacuation Centre in Japan …………………………………....… 4 Figure 2: On the left is shown damage due to radiation exposure. On the right is shown the geographical distribution of radiation around Fukushima reactors since March 11 …………………………………………………………………………….5 Figure: 3- Radiation in the environment around the Fukushima Daiichi Plant ……..6
Introduction On 11 March 2011, largest earthquake in the history of japan strikes off north east coast of japan, followed by vast tsunami triggered by earthquake. Facing the coast was Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which took the blow of 14-15 meters high tsunami waves (Headquarters 2011). At the time of earthquake, the reactor 4 had been defueled and reactors 5, 6 were in cold shut down for maintenance. Reactors 1, 2 and 3 shutdown automatically after earthquake, emergency generators starts supplying power to the reactors, but 14-15 meters high waves of tsunami broke reactors connection to power grid and flooded the rooms containing the emergency generators. Eventually complete loss of AC current at all 3 units occurred and stopped pumps that circulate coolant waters in reactor, which resulted in reactors being overheated. Eventually reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced full meltdown and several hydrogen explosions occurred at the reactors. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was built on false assumptions that if in case earthquake occurs in the vicinity of the plant , the maximum height of expected tsunami is 3.1 meters on design basis (Headquarters 2011). Also, the acceleration response spectra of the basic earthquake movement observed on the basic board of the reactor building exceeded the acceleration response spectra of the earthquake movement in design for partial periodic bands, hence earthquake damaged power supply (Headquarters 2011).
Analysing the disaster Japan sits on pacific ring of fire, which is the area where large number of earthquake and volcanic eruptions occur. Considering the fact that the catastrophic tsunami can have serious impact on nuclear facility preparedness for any such event was not observed. After the plant was hit by tsunami ideally the isolation condenser should take function of ordinary cooling pumps, but the condenser did not function and the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) could not confirm whether a valve was opened. On 27 December 2011, The japan Times reported (Nagata (2011) some interim findings of the third party panel set up to investigate the causes of the accident in Fukushima prefecture. The panel observed that workers at Fukushima plant assumed that reactor`s isolation condenser was working after tsunami hit, but in reality it was not working. This report also added that, during power loss the valve in isolation condenser automatically shuts down, which prevents water from entering the reactor, but TEPCO`s staff were unaware of this and assumed that the reactor was being cooled. This mistake delayed the efforts to cool the reactors. Also, at rector no.3 workers switched off one of the cooling system to switch on another cooling system
to find that none of them was working. This resulted in seven hours delay in resuming cooling system, which eventually accelerated core meltdown (Nagata (2011). There has been several instances that point fingers towards plant operator TEPCO`s credibility in matter of safety of the reactor. In 2002 TEPCO admitted that it falsified safety records at the No.1 Reactor at Fukushima Daiichi Power plant. A power board, which distributes electricity to reactor`s temperature control valves was not examined for 11 years. Also inspections did not cover devices related to cooling systems, such as water pump motors ad diesel generators. Deferring or manipulating maintenance on essential safety system is substantial and grave matter, which can cause serious safety issues. As a result of scandal TEPCO had to shut down all of its reactors to take responsibility. Cooling system failure was the main cause of disaster at Fukushima so this explains the fact the essential safety systems were not maintained properly.
Duty Ethics Violations
This is disaster is result of cascade of equipment failures and Human errors. The plant workers false assumption that isolation condenser was working even after tsunami hit the plant was questionable. The Japan Times reported that (Nagata (2011) workers of the plant did not had information about the critical safety fact that, after power loss isolation condenser automatically shuts. It also added that TEPCO`s staff turned off one emergency cooling system without approval from senior authority to turn on another, but failed to start any of the system (Nagata (2011). These are the serious human errors that could have been avoided if the staff at plant were well trained to handle the worst case situation in all manners. The staffs at plant were incompetent to handle the situation arisen. The lack of critical information and lack of training to staff, working real time at the plant accelerated the disaster. The report also adds that there was complete chaos after the incident, staff did not had sufficient information and not trained to handle such events, putting health and safety of people at risk. This is violation of principle of Ethical Engineering which states that “Members shall undertake their engineering activities with professionalism and integrity and shall work with their level of competence” (IPENZ Code of Conduct for Engineers). There are examples from past which shows that plant Operator Company, TEPCO did not learn from its mistakes in past mistakes. On October 1991, one of the two backup generators of reactor No.1 did fail, after it was flooded in the basement of reactor building. An engineer claimed that he mentioned possibility of tsunami could
cause damage to the generators in the turbine building near the sea. This was the chance for company to move generators to higher grounds but it did not. In 2008, in house study pointed out that there was immediate need to improve the protection of the power station from flooding by seawater. This study expected that tsunami of waves up to 10.2 meters can arise based on calculation, but company`s headquarters insisted that such risk was unrealistic and did not take the report seriously. Fukushima Daiichi own report on accident management protocol says “The possibility of severe accident occurring is so small that from engineering standpoint, it‟s practically unthinkable” (Dvorak and Landers 2011).
Health and Safety Ethics The impacts of nuclear accident on health of human are devastating and long lasting. It was matter of concern for both people living around the plant and workers working at the plant. Prior to the accident maximum permissible dose of radiation for workers was 100 mSv per year, but in order to allow workers legally work for more time government increased it to 250 mSv per year. This Cancer risk increases slightly if radiation exposure increases 100 mSv per year (Akabayashi and Hayashi 2012). The decision to increase radiation limit for workers is conflicting with ethical principles. It endangers the life of workers at the plant; on the other side it was to handle the Nuclear Emergency situation occurred due to nuclear accident at Fukushima nuclear plant to prevent further damage to the society and environment at large. This is critical case where applying an ethical solution to the problem may threat to organisation. The radiation exposure limit for evacuation was set to 20 mSv per year by the government (Headquarters 2011) , on 12th March Japanese government issued an evacuation guidelines to areas within 20 km radius of the plant . On 22nd April government designated this area as „High alert zone‟ and orders interdict entry to the zone by anyone and imposed fine of 1300 USD on person violating the order (Akabayashi and Hayashi 2012). This forced residents to evacuate the homes compulsorily and the sufferings of horses, cattle, sheep, and other pets that were left behind. At that time people are forced to live in miserable living conditions at Evacuation centres due large number of people being evacuated. About 135,000 people were living in 2500 shelters set up in schools, gymnasium and community centres in Tohoku district (Alabaster J. (2011)). This Evacuation concerning health and safety of individuals residing around nuclear power plant put them at great discomfort. A major ethical problems of such evacuation is violation of individual liberty, violation of privacy, corporal integrity, civil liberties such as freedom of movement and restriction of individual autonomy (Akabayashi and Hayashi 2012).
In the present situation government order to evacuate was certainly purposed to protect the local residents of area, but imposing them it by law is questionable in terms ethical principles. The mandatory evacuation of all the individuals cannot be ethically justifiable, the risk of cancer due to radiation may not be a concern for those who are in their 70`s as it is predicted to emerge decades after exposure to the radiation, for elders evacuation centres posed more urgent and direct serious physical and mental risk compared to risk of future cancer due to radiation exposure (Akabayashi and Hayashi 2012).
A typical Evacuation Centre in Japan:
Figure 1: Typical Evacuation Centre in Japan (Source:http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20110314/japan-hospitals110314)
Environmental Damages The Fukushima nuclear accident was Rated level 7 on International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) on 11 April 2011 by the Japanese government's nuclear safety agency (Tabuchi, Bradsher et al. 2011). This means that it was put on par with Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This is highest level of nuclear accident rating which signifies that major release of radioactive material was taken place and which can have widespread impact on health of people and environment.
Figure 2: On the left is shown damage due to radiation exposure. On the right is shown the geographical distribution of radiation around Fukushima reactors since March 11 (ATSUJI, UEDA et al. 2011).
Measurement taken by Japanese government in 30-50 km radius of plant indicated that caesium level is high in the atmosphere which is matter of concern. The environmental damages caused by this disaster are enormous and require many decades for clean-up. Following is Half-life of radioactive isotopes • Caesium 137: 30 years • Plutonium 239: 24,000 years • Strontium 90: 29 years • Uranium 235: 700-million years • Iodine 131: 8 days (Matsui 2011)
This show that significant amount of time will be required to overall clean up radioactive elements from environment. Tons of contaminated seawater was dumped into ocean and critically destabilizing the ecosystem and marine life at Pacific Ocean.
Figure: 3- Radiation in the environment around the Fukushima Daiichi Plant (Source: http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1333015769P.pdf) There were reports of radiation level greater than accepted level in San Francisco area milk samples (Dr.Perlingieri,I. 2012). This shows how vulnerable we are to the radiation contamination of food products around the world. There were no immediate death due to radiation but future cancer deaths due to accumulation of radiation are estimated between 100 and 1000. This is just estimation, the reality could be far worse than this. The government is trying to cover up the things. The estimated deaths due to Fukushima related incident in us alone expected to be 14000 (Dr.Perlingieri,I. 2012) by medical journal press release in us. This large scale event and fearful situation was result of no prudence, no care of humanity or environment. It is estimated that to clean up the damage caused by Fukushima it will take decades and billions of US $ (Basdevant and Geneva 2011).
Use of Nuclear facilities for power Generation Nuclear power is source of 6.3% of total energy produced and 13-15% of electricity produced in the world, and US, France and Japan accounts for 50% of electricity produced by nuclear power plants (Another drop in nuclear generation, 2010). Though the use of nuclear facilities for power generation is popular among many countries, the Fukushima accident had caused caution for those who are on expansions plans for nuclear power. There are obvious reasons behind these cautions: is nuclear power really safe? The answer to the question is not in terms of yes or no, it is complicated and debatable issue. Some believe that technology can make the nuclear power safe (Basdevant and Geneva 2011) but others believe that nuclear power are always vulnerable to accident and irreparable damage that they cause to environment and people. Why nuclear power being used? Because it‟s cheap and considered as clean power but the risk that it carries with it are immense, the compensation for nuclear accident runs into billions UD$ also decommission of nuclear reactor and storage of nuclear waste are most expensive activities (Basdevant and Geneva 2011). Another risk that nuclear power carries is misuse of the nuclear materials from their peaceful operation to create nuclear weapons, which possess immense threat to society at large, if fallen in wrong hands. Also the people living around plant are more vulnerable to small or large nuclear accidents. It can have devastating impact on their life‟s as in case of Fukushima disaster the population living around plant was evacuated and the less likely to return home for months until the plant becomes stable and normalisation of events had taken place.
Social responsibility of Nuclear Power Plant Operator The concept of Corporate Social responsibilities is not just related to modern era of business, but is has great history. The philanthropy of business organisation comes back from centuries, but the definition of corporate social responsibility had significant change over the period of time (McWilliams and Siegel 2001).There are vast number of definitions for corporate social responsibility, Keith Davis and Robert Blomstrom (1966) defined social responsibility as “Social responsibility, therefore, refers to a person‟s obligation to consider the effects of his decisions and actions on the whole social system. Businessmen apply social responsibility when they consider the needs and interest of others who may be affected by business actions. In so doing, they look beyond their firm‟s narrow economic and technical interests” (McWilliams and Siegel 2001).
The Nuclear Power Plant Operator TEPCO owes responsibility of the accident happened at their Nuclear Power Station. It was responsibility of Operator for the health and safety of society at large, which will be affected by this accident. The discussion highlighted the negligence of operator for accreting the scale of event. If TEPCO have applied principles of social responsibility, putting interest of society at large which may be affected by their business actions ahead of company`s interest then the scale of accident might have been reduced. There were various opportunities for company to avoid such situation and strengthening safety of plant but company did not do it as they felt that the plant is literally safe for all the events that might take place. The plants management failed to envisage the scale of event that can occur at Fukushima, which is their biggest failure. The affected people by this accident were not provided with the information about what is happening in the plant. There was complete chaos after accident, TEPCO did not handle the information flow responsively, the operators were trying to cover up the event and flow of information was restricted. It was responsibility of plant to inform the public about dangers of the event that was taking place, give guidelines and assistance to the affected public.
Code of ethics for engineers
The Code of Ethics approved by IPENZ (Institute of professional Engineers New Zealand) quotes its core value as “Protection of life and safeguarding people” which in turn says to give priority to the safety and well-being of community. In case of Fukushima disaster this value is grossly ignored, the community was kept at risk of life due to mismanagement of cascade of events that took place at the site. If this value is imbibed by the plant operator in their management protocol things might have been different. The code of ethics also suggests that “Engineers shall undertake their activities with professionalism and integrity and shall work within their level of competence”. The engineers working at the plant were incompetent to handle the situation that has arisen in front of them. There were various mistakes by the engineers working at the plant which questions their ability to competently do the job they are assigned to do. The engineers should have acted competently to the situation, taking right decisions at the critical point. It was responsibility of engineers working at the plant to handle the worst case scenario that was taking place. It also adds that “Members shall recognise and respect the need for sustainable management of planets resources and endeavour to minimise adverse environmental impacts of their engineering activities for both present and future generations”. At Fukushima accident sites significantly large amount of radioactive substance were
released in air and sea contaminating them for decades. The engineers should have recognised the risks of such an event and adverse impact of their activities. They should have done their best to minimize the impact of radioactive release. The Fukushima reactor buildings are square in design and not circular, so had to absorb the force of tsunami waves direct on to them. The plant designer should have taken this into consideration the risk of tsunami might damage the plant. Also the location to build plant was a gross mistake, this part of japan has seen many earthquakes in the past and the plant was not designed specifically to handle such an emergency situation. The plant design engineer never envisaged the scale of accidents that can take place at their designed plant. It contradicts the IPENZ code of conduct which states that “Giving engineering decisions that are honest, objective and factual. If these are ignored or rejected member should ensure that those affected were made aware of the possible consequences”. Also decisions by maintenance engineer are also violates code of conduct for engineers. Deferring maintenance on essential safety systems is serious offence.
References: Alabaster J. (2011, April 26). Evacuation Centres a mixed bag: Remote site Spartan, others seen as resorts. The Japan Times, p.5. Akabayashi, A. and Y. Hayashi (2012). "Mandatory evacuation of residents during the Fukushima nuclear disaster: an ethical analysis." Journal of Public Health. Basdevant, J. L. and C. Geneva (2011). "Taming Nuclear Power. What have we learned from the Fukushima disaster?". Dvorak, P. and P. Landers (2011). "Japanese plant had barebones risk plan." Wall Street Journal. Nagata,k. (2011)." Report blasts goveremrnts crisis response". The Japan Times,p.1. Headquarters, N. E. R. (2011). "Report of the Japanese government to the IAEA ministerial conference on nuclear safety-The accident at TEPCO‟s Fukushima nuclear power stations–." Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, Government of Japan. Matsui, T. (2011). "Deciphering the measured ratios of Iodine-131 to Cesium-137 at the Fukushima reactors." Arxiv preprint arXiv:1105.0242. Tabuchi, H., K. Bradsher, et al. (2011). "Japan Nuclear Disaster Put on Par With Chernobyl." New York Times, April 12.
ATSUJI, S., K. UEDA, et al. (2011). "Systems Patholopgy of Social Organizations: Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe 3.11."
Another drop in nuclear generation. (2010, May 5). Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclearnews.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=27665&terms=another+drop+ Dr. Perlingieri, I (2012, March 8). Fukushima One Year Later: The Poisoning of Planet Earth.( 2012, March 14). Retrieved from http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1203/S00131/fukushima-one-year-later-thepoisoning-of-planet-earth.htm
1. IPENZ Code of Ethics
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.