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Friday, Nov. 30, 2012

U.S. scientists search for lessons in Fukushima to improve nuclear safety


American scientists met in Tokyo this week to study the Fukushima nuclear crisis in hopes of finding lessons to improve the safety of U.S. atomic power reactors.

Norman Neureiter, head of the 22-member committee of the National Academy of Sciences, said the Fukushima No. 1 disaster and its continuing impact have caused widespread concerns about the safety of nuclear energy.

"We are trying to look at the whole experience and to take from that lessons which can be applied to increasing safety of nuclear power," he said Tuesday.

Neureiter said the committee is hearing from Japanese officials and will conduct its own investigation. He said the findings could be valuable to the nuclear industry throughout the world.

"Because after a thing like this in Japan . . . human losses and continuing radiation and all of these things, people will have more and more questions about nuclear energy," he said. "Hopefully useful lessons (can be drawn) which can be applied elsewhere to make sure nothing like this happens again."

During the three-day meeting that began Monday, the group held hearings involving experts who led Japanese investigations, as well as regulators and officials from Tokyo Electric Power Co., to gather information independently and discuss technical details.

Neureiter said collusion between the industry and regulators, a cozy relationship known as "the nuclear village," has caused deep-rooted public distrust.

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