Dr. Robert Geller: Moving the Nuclear Restart Conversation

Moving from ‘Safe or Unsafe’ to Comprehensive Risk Assessment

A recent joint meeting of the U.S.-Japan Roundtable and the Forum on Energy’s Editorial Board featured presentations and discussions on the present and future of nuclear energy. The roundtable took place Oct. 24, in Washington, D.C. Among the presenters was Dr. Robert Geller, B.S. and Ph.D. in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology, who believes that the conversation about whether to restart nuclear reactors must be founded on scientific analysis.

Dr. Geller said the dialogue surrounding nuclear energy must be changed from the “safe or unsafe” dichotomy to one that deals with risk assessment. He recommended that an examination of earthquake safety include a global analysis of both successes and failures, as well as the risks of not restarting nuclear programs (called non-nuclear risk). Cutting nuclear energy could decrease some risks, but increase others.

Moreover, he believes existing assessment tools must be updated to reflect current knowledge. For example, nuclear hazard maps must take into account the available data, and policy decisions must include input from scientists.

Below is Dr. Geller’s presentation:

Dr. Robert Geller – A seismologist looks at nuclear power plant safety issues in Japan