Japan Nuclear Safety Institute: A Q&A with Shojiro Matsuura

Mr. Shojiro Matsuura, Chairman of JANSI

Mr. Shojiro Matsuura, Chairman of JANSI

The Japan Nuclear Safety Institute (JANSI) is a newly formed nuclear safety organization that helps Japanese commercial nuclear power plant operators strive to the highest levels of safety, reliability and excellence. Using INPO as a model, JANSI assesses operators’ safety initiatives, compiling proposals and recommendations. Forum on Energy is honored to have Mr. Shojiro Matsuura, Chairman of JANSI, discuss the organization and its approach to improving nuclear safety assurance in Japan.

Forum on Energy: How would you describe the working relationship between JANSI and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA)? How do these institutions work together?

Shojiro Matsuura:NRA establishes safety standards on legal grounds and on the basis of scientific insights. It secures the safety of citizens, and power plant operators comply with these standards.

Based on the IAEA’s Fundamental Safety Principles, the operator retains the prime responsibility for safety throughout the lifetime of facilities and activities. Operators learned from the Fukushima accident that they must autonomously pursue a higher level of safety, on top of complying with standards set by NRA.

On the basis of operators’ compliance with standards set by NRA, JANSI will objectively evaluate, make proposals and/or recommendations of the operators’ efforts for safety improvements so as to lead operators to an autonomous and continuous improvement of safety. By supporting the operators’ activities to surpass the safety evaluations, proposals and/or recommendations, we will raise the level of nuclear safety in Japan.

Forum on Energy: What, if any, plans does JANSI have to establish a peer review system? What are the key points to establishing an effective peer review system? How will the system compare to the INPO approach?

Matsuura:In future peer reviews we will be committed to thorough examinations. By comparing safety measures of nuclear facilities with best practices in the world (from both hardware and software aspects), we will identify areas for improvement and put forward proposals and/or recommendations that help operators achieve excellence in nuclear safety. JANSI will follow up operators’ efforts to ensure that improvements are actually achieved.

Currently, JANSI is working on establishment of guidelines as well as technical improvement of reviewers. To achieve this, JANSI patterns itself after INPO, and aims to improve competency by referring to the experience of INPO.

Forum on Energy: What incentive structures (e.g. safety performance linked to insurance rates) is JANSI considering?

Matsuura:Currently, there are no incentive structures such as linking JANSI’s review results and insurance rates.

With the Fukushima accident making operators recognize the severe impact on their entity and the society in the event of major nuclear incidents, we believe that there is sufficient incentive for operators and JANSI to continue tireless improvement to achieve excellence in nuclear safety.

However, in circumstances where safety has reached a higher level, we understand that frameworks to motivate further safety improvement will become an issue to consider. (It is our understanding that the U.S. has already reached such a level.)

Forum on Energy: The NRA has introduced a probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) approach to its safety regulations. Will JANSI also introduce a quantitative risk analysis of plant safety which would align with the NRA’s PRA approach? If so, how will that be done in practice?

Matsuura: Details on how to apply probabilistic approaches to nuclear safety regulations are yet to be clarified. However, JANSI regards that the supplementary utilization of probabilistic approaches, in addition to existing deterministic approaches, is increasing its importance.

JANSI is helping to develop frameworks that would guide nuclear operators on how to respond to probabilistic approaches. Specifically, JANSI is working out various efforts such as supporting academic societies and industry associations to develop PRA implementation standards and developing new Severe Accident Management (SAM) implementation standards based on domestic data. JANSI is also estimating the parameters for PRA and establishing autonomous SAM guidelines, which include PRA for operators, and holding seminars on PRA.

Furthermore, we believe that JANSI itself must prepare to apply probabilistic approaches.

Forum on Energy: What are your hopes for the future of JANSI? What do you see as its main role in the nuclear community?

Matsuura: The mission of JANSI is to lead the Japanese nuclear industry in pursuit of excellence in nuclear safety. To achieve this mission, JANSI is striving to be a trustworthy institute that fulfills the following various roles:

  • A center that can provide excellence by gathering and analyzing up-to-date domestic/international information.
  • A group of technical experts that can objectively evaluate domestic nuclear facilities based on high-level, broad perspectives.
  • An independent institution which has powerful autonomy to transmit high-quality proposals and/or recommendations on the basis of evaluations.
  • A support institution that backs up operators’ safety improvement efforts or the implementation of proposals and/or recommendations provided by JANSI
  • A cutting-edge institution that supports the vast areas of nuclear technology from the standpoint of safety.