US NRC intervention increased Japanese public fear factor

Barry Brook’s BraveNewClimate.com offers a wealth of information and commentary on climate and energy policy issues. The value of comments is enhanced by contributors who make their living in various energy-related professions. Today we have a perfect example of such informed commentary:

The Japanese reaction to shutdown most of their reactors following the Fukushima event was caused in part by the US NRC intervention to expand the exclusion zone to fifty miles. This greatly increased the public fear factor and made the Japanese officials appear more inept in dealing with the crisis. Japan cannot afford to keep the nuclear plants shutdown without suffering an economic meltdown. What is needed now is an indepth review by an international expert panel to provide Japan with the basis to safely restart their plants. The US should lead this panel since the Japanese nuclear program is a mirror of the US program in all respects but crisis management.

Ray A. Hunter
Former Deputy Director,
Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology
United States Department of Energy.

What does he know about reactor safety and management of nuclear accidents? Here’s some relevant bits of his resume:

(…) Mr. Hunter was selected to serve on numerous working groups in developing DOE Orders for Radiological Protection, Safeguards and Security, Occurrence Reporting, Safety Analyses, Conduct of Operations, and restart of Nuclear Facilities following shutdown for safety reasons. At the request of the Manager of the Savannah River Operations Office, he recommended corrective actions for restart of the tritium production plants. He was assigned the leadership role in resolving contamination events at several of the national laboratories and he was responsible for the action plan to address suspect parts in the DOE complex.

Mr. Hunter also served as the Department of Energy’s senior technical advisor to the Department of State on nuclear technology matters. He accompanied State Department Officials to South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia to develop support for addressing proliferation concerns with North Korea’s nuclear program. He visited Chernobyl multiple times to develop specific technical recommendations for the Shelter Stabilization Project for damaged Unit 4. His recommendations were accepted by the State Department and the international group sponsoring the project. In discussion between State Department Officials and Chinese Officials on nonproliferation, China requested a nuclear technology cooperation agreement with the U.S. Mr. Hunter prepared an agreement and presented it to the Chinese delegation. He received the Pride Award from Secretary Federico Pena for the nuclear cooperation agreement between U.S. and China.

Mr. Hunter, the former #2 nuclear guy at DOE, retired from DOE in 1998. Today Mr. Hunter is a member of the Science Council for Global Initiatives, the powerhouse energy policy group which includes such as James Hansen, Barry Brook, and the IFR honchos Yoon Chang and Charles Till (and many others – read the details at the Science Council website).