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Visiting Fukushima Daiichi

WANO Chairman Jacques Régaldo reflects on WANO’s visit to Fukushima
Jacques Régaldo, Chairman, WANO

Jacques Régaldo, WANO Chairman, speaks to TEPCO staff during visit to FukushimaIt is hard to believe that we are already midway through the year and yet, reflecting on the past six months, WANO has accomplished so much in this time.

In early March, WANO's Governing Board meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan. Over a three day period, WANO directors led a series of open and closed sessions facilitating key discussions regarding the direction of WANO moving forward.

Following the meetings, some of the governors joined Ken Ellis and I on a tour of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, facilitated by TEPCO and held just days before the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused the Fukushima event.

On a personal note, I felt very strongly that the only way to truly understand the situation that TEPCO's employees are facing in their efforts to decommission the plant was to visit in person.

We were welcomed warmly by TEPCO staff who were open to frank and honest discussion about the ongoing work at Fukushima. Their presentation was very much focused on the contaminated water management issues that they are facing. Although a huge challenge which will take years to fully overcome, the hard work and sheer effort of the staff is irrefutable and has ensured that they are taking substantial steps every day to reaching their goal.

TEPCO has received thousands of letters, drawings and origami from people all over Japan, wishing the staff love, luck and warm wishes for not only the dedication they have shown since 2011 in bringing Fukushima under control following the tsunami, but also in their day-to-day tasks. It is heart-warming to see these notes on the walls of their offices and to appreciate the support they have from so many people across Japan and globally.

The experience did reinforce that TEPCO is making real progress in its efforts to control the damage caused by the tsunami. The staff have a long journey ahead and WANO are in full support, offering any assistance required.

This year we also celebrate 25 years since the 1989 inaugural meeting of the World Association of Nuclear Operators.

The strive for excellence is a never-ending journey of which WANO has taken significant strides over the past quarter-century of its existence. This reflection on how far WANO has come, however, has also highlighted and reinforced the fact that we will always have more to do and further to push forward.

The work of WANO is never done.