IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

Search our site :


Contact us :

En Fr

All our expertise to protect you

Send Print

After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident : dealing with the unpredictable

Visuel site web - colloque FOH V2021-06-11 - EN.pngThe 9 magnitude earthquake on 11 march 2011 caused a huge tsunami coastal flooding. It led to the core melt of three reactors from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and to the loss of cooling of different spent fuel storage pools. High radioactive releases in the environment occurred, causing 160 000 people living in the Fukushima Prefecture to be evacuated and a long-term contamination in the area around the plant.


10 years after the disaster, IRSN invites the participants of this workshop to discuss the results of different research projects in the domain of Social Sciences and Humanities. These projects aimed at understanding and drawing lessons from this major accident. They were conducted by IRSN in the framework of the AGORAS Project cofounded by the French Nuclear safety and radiation protection research program​.


These research projects highlight the question of developing the nuclear safety organisations capability to tackle the unpredictable during the crisis management and at the time of the design of the plants.

+ Program
​Workshop Introduction
Jean-Christophe Niel, Director General of IRSN
François Jeffroy, Head of IRSN Human and Social Sciences Laboratory

Morning – Crisis Management
Involvement in a hostile environment: lessons learnt form the Fukushima Daiichi accident
Olivier Isnard, Elsa Gisquet
Since a nuclear accident crosses organizational boundaries, abolishing the dichotomy between local and national, between immediate and distant environment, we place the notion of space at the heart of crisis management thinking. Lessons of the Fukushima accident have shown that crisis management and its unexpected dimension exists in different spaces that are themselves redefined by the dynamic of the crisis. Actors are involved in these spaces in order to tackle the hostile environment of severe accident. Based on the analyses of a sociologist and an expert who experienced this situation, the aim of the communication is to reflect on the way it is possible to support these different dimensions of commitment; whether it is a collective commitment - to continue to act, to improvise and to supply the damaged power station with resources and technical means - or an ethical commitment - which leads to risk-taking for the professionals involved. But commitment also implies receiving a counterparty in return, which should not only be declarative, but also tangible.

Tackling the unpredictable through crisis exercises
Elsa Gisquet, Patricia Dupuy
How can the multiple actors of the crisis prepare to act and coordinate to face unexpected situations? In this communication, social scientists and emergency preparedness and response staff will examine the construction of relevant repertoires of action to prepare to adapt and act with the means at hand, in a real crisis situation. Beside the normalization of crisis management arising through crisis exercises, we will reflect on the possibility for more complex continuing process of learning to support forms of collective action confronting the unexpected.

​Afternoon – Preventing Accidents
Recovering confidence over nuclear facilities robustness after the Fukushima Daiichi accident
Mathias Roger, Olivier Loiseau
All around the world, Fukushima accident has affected the public as well as expert’s confidence in nuclear safety and triggered a period of crisis for regulatory bodies. When the accident occurred, French nuclear industry was engaged in the process of life span extension of power plants. Within this context, the accident and the associated crisis of confidence have opened an “opportunity window” to go beyond status quo that frame risk management and to renegotiate terms and conditions to pursue reactors operation beyond 40 years. This presentation will illustrate the work done by French safety experts in the domain of seismic risks to recover confidence in nuclear facilities robustness. Based on the dialog between a sociologist and an expert who was involved in this work, we aim to show how this recovery was possible thanks to a tenuous articulation between lessons learned directly from Fukushima events and the need to prepare for the future of the nuclear industry.

Preventing the accident in the daily operation of plant
Nicolas Dechy, Hervé Bodineau
The study of major industrial accidents reveals that their development is often made possible or encouraged by deviations linked to the daily operation of the facilities, which weaken the safety barriers. A significant part of safety management aims at preventing a deterioration of the operating conditions of the installations, in particular by maintaining the conformity of the installations and the instrumentation necessary for monitoring the process. It must also ensure the detection of drifts in risk control. Maintaining a constant concern for the risk of accident is not without its own problems, such as knowing how to spot the warning signs of safety degradation. Indeed, safety is a distributed and global phenomenon, which raises issues of centralization of information and integration of points of view in large and complex systems. Moreover, while defense in depth is likely to provide margins and instill confidence, it can paradoxically authorize certain temporary deviations. In this context, several points of view (Operator, Regulator, Expert, Civil Society) can be developed on the diversity of practices that allow risk awareness to be maintained in daily operations and to detect drifts.​

+ Date
November 24, 2021

+ Localisation

Beffroi de Montrouge 
2 place Emile Cresp 92120 Montrouge – France

+ Registration

You can register here :​

+ Contact 

Back to all the news


Send to a friend

The information you provide in this page are single use only and will not be saved.
* Required fields

Recipient's email:*  

Sign with your name:* 

Type your email address:*   

Add a message :

Do you want to receive a copy of this email?