A report commissioned by the U.K. government (PDF) to draw lessons from Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster named better PR and communications as one of four general takeaways from the event.
Although the U.K. is 1,000 miles from the nearest fault line, the report, released May 18, found several areas of improvement for the British nuclear industry and stressed public communications as a key area of focus for the country's 19 reactors in the wake of Fukushima, noting the Japanese nuclear plant operator TEPCO fumbled its early PR at the detriment of the public and its own reputation.
"The recent comments over information release by TEPCO and distrust in its provenance provide a striking illustration of why [the U.K. Office of Nuclear Regulation] is addressing this issue with commitment and urgency," says the report.
President Barack Obama has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review the U.S.'s 104 nuke plants, as well.
The U.K. nuclear industry has made "great strides" with an "openness and transparency agenda" in recent years, according to the report, but "some stakeholders have reservations about greater openness and access to information, based on concerns about the potential for misues by the media or others and possible detrimental effect on our regulatory effectiveness.
The report says that while there must be some limitations on the release of information because of security concerns, "such reservations should not stand in the way" of more open communication with the public.