The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Causes, Consequences and Implications
This case study discusses the causes, consequences and implications of the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO’s) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant that was triggered by a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami waves on March 11, 2011. There are two essential questions: First, “How could it have come so far?” Japan is rightfully considered a technologically advanced nation and is known for its diligence and high-quality products. While the combined earthquake/tsunami triggered the catastrophe, there are a number of deeper underlying causes that are described in the first section of the case. Second, “What next?” While the plant technically achieved cold shutdown with all damaged reactors reaching temperatures below 100°C, this did not mean that the Fukushima disaster was over. Instead, numerous consequences and implications extend into the future.
The key learning outcomes of the case are for students to become more aware of the psychological, interpersonal, organisational, and institutional contributors to crises and crisis management. They will learn to recognise the development, characteristics, and negative consequences of groupthink; and become sensitive to the crucial role of communications during crisis management. The students will also explore narrow management issues, and recognise and discuss issues of broad implications such as the future of nuclear energy and the responsibility of organisations for a catastrophe like the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
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