Fukushima: Incident Response Done Right

FukushimaOne of my favorite podcasts isn’t on the topic of information security. It’s Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast. I love the discussions with business leaders and creative thinkers, because it often provides me with a better understanding of the organizations I work for. So color me surprised when the weekly show covered the Fukushima meltdown from 2011. Most don’t realize that there are two nuclear power plants in Fukushima: Daiichi, which suffered a meltdown, and Daini, which didn’t. The lessons learned from how these two plants dealt with the aftermath of the tsunami is a master class in the importance of good leadership for incident response.

From the HBR article:

When we hear the words “Fukushima disaster,” most of us think of Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear power plant wracked by three core meltdowns and three reactor building explosions following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Without electricity to run the plant’s cooling systems, managers and workers couldn’t avert catastrophe: People around the world watched grainy footage of the explosions, gray plumes of smoke and steam blotting the skyline. Since the tsunami, Daiichi has been consumed by the challenge of containing and reducing the radioactive water and debris left behind.

Less well known is the crisis at Fukushima Daini, a sister plant about 10 kilometers to the south, which also suffered severe damage but escaped Daiichi’s fate. To shed light on how leadership shaped the outcome, we’ve reconstructed that story here—from several firsthand interviews; detailed reports by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the utility that owns both plants; the Nuclear Energy Institute; and a number of public sources. In so volatile an environment, none of the usual rules for decision making and organizational behavior applied. But the site superintendent, Naohiro Masuda, and the rest of Daini’s 400 employees charted their way through the chaos, and the plant survived without a meltdown or an explosion.

The podcast episode with Charles Castro, formerly of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, can be found here.


Today’s post pic is from Tumblr.com.

4 comments for “Fukushima: Incident Response Done Right

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