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Governing Nuclear Safety in Newcomer and Mature Nuclear States The Cases of Bangladesh, Japan and South Korea

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These back-to-back seminars examine the governance of nuclear safety in two sets of cases. Bangladesh is nuclear newcomer, a neighbour to ASEAN, building its first commercial nuclear power plant. While a considerable achievement for a developing country, Bangladesh faces many significant challenges ahead. Japan and South Korea are both mature nuclear power nations that have faced crises in their governance of nuclear safety and have taken steps to improve their governance of nuclear safety. These two seminars will assess the degree to which these three countries are successfully addressing their nuclear governance challenges.

Bangladesh: A Nuclear Newcomer Bordering ASEAN

As of November 2017, Bangladesh officially joined the exclusive club of thirty-something nuclear power countries in the world. Bangladesh’s nuclear dream is almost six decades in the making. Infamously dubbed a “basket case” at its birth in 1971, the country is now hitting its stride, having emerged as the fastest growing country in the Asia-Pacific region in 2019. It is one of only four countries that have made the decision to deploy nuclear power in the last three decades, markedly closing the gap with its larger South Asian neighbours and nuclear predecessors, India and Pakistan. This seminar examines Bangladesh as a newcomer nuclear country case study. Whilst each country’s experience is certainly unique, other newcomers may recognise the same drivers that motivated Bangladesh’s decades-long quest to acquire the technology; the challenges of building a lasting commitment within the political system; the regulatory, technological, financial, resource and other infrastructure considerations; and the importance of cultivating key relationships. An assessment will be made on what progress has been made thus far and what challenges remain, from the perspective of safety governance.

Japan and South Korea: Improving Nuclear Governance after Crisis

Japan and South Korea have nuclear power industries dating back more than 40 years. In both countries, the nuclear industries have been through recent crises that brought into question the credibility of the institutions that governed nuclear safety. Japan’s crisis took the form of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011. South Korea’s crisis a year later revolved around the revelation of systemic corruption and collusion along the nuclear supply chains as well as profound deficiencies in the nuclear safety culture. Since then, both countries have taken steps to improve their governance of nuclear safety. This seminar assesses the extent to which these measures seem to have addressed the identified deficiencies. In particular, it will illustrate that the way in which nuclear safety is governed is highly dependent on the wider political economy and societal culture.

Date
Tuesday,
16 July 2019

Programme
14.00 – 17.00


Venue

Energy Studies Institute
29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
Block A #10-01
Singapore 119620



Registration

jan.lui@nus.edu.sg

Click here to Register
Admission is free but
registration is required.

PROGRAMME 

14:00 Registration

14:15 – 15:30
Seminar 1
Bangladesh: A Nuclear Newcomer Bordering ASEAN

Ira Martina Drupady
Research Associate, Energy Studies Institute

15:30-15:45 Break

15:45-17:00  Seminar 2
Japan and South Korea: Improving Nuclear Governance after Crisis

Dr Philip Andrews-Speed
Senior Principal Fellow, Energy Studies Institute

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Ira Martina Drupady is a Research Associate at the Energy Studies Institute of the National University of Singapore. She has been a participant in the project “Policy and Law for Nuclear Safety and Security” since 2016, contributing research on national policy and regulatory frameworks of nuclear power countries and monitoring global trends and developments in the nuclear industry. She has worked as an energy policy analyst since 2010, with a research focus on energy security in developing countries in Asia, including Bangladesh. Her main research interests are climate governance and energy access governance at the national level. She is concurrently pursuing her PhD at the National University of Singapore.

Dr Philip Andrews-Speed is a Senior Principal Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute of the National University of Singapore, and principal investigator of the project “Policy and Law for Nuclear safety and Security”. He has 40 years of experience in the field of energy and resources, starting his career as a mineral and oil exploration geologist before moving into the field of energy and resource governance. His main research interest is the political economy of energy and resource governance, at national, regional and global scales.


Event Summary

On 16 July 2019, Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, Senior Principal Fellow and Ms Ira Martina Drupady, Research Associate held back-to-back public seminars at ESI as part of the ESI-CIL Nuclear Governance Project. The seminars examined the governance of nuclear safety in two sets of cases.

Firstly, Ms Drupady presented the case study of Bangladesh, a nuclear newcomer building its first commercial nuclear power plant, and a neighbouring country to ASEAN. Being one of only four countries that have made the decision to deploy nuclear power in the last three decades, Bangladesh is well on its way to becoming the third nuclear power country in South Asia. This is a remarkable achievement for a young developing country that only gained independence in 1971.

Ms Drupady began her presentation with a brief overview of the state-of-play of the Bangladesh nuclear power programme. She then gave an assessment from the perspective of safety governance, of what the country seems to have done well as well as the key challenges ahead. She concluded with some observations regarding the significance of the Bangladesh experience for ASEAN countries.

In the second seminar, Dr Philip Andrews-Speed discussed the case studies of South Korea and Japan – both mature nuclear power countries that have nuclear power industries dating back more than forty years. He focused the presentation on recent crises in the nuclear industry in both countries that have brought into question the credibility of their respective institutions governing nuclear safety.

In the South Korea case study, Dr Andrews-Speed used the incident of a station blackout at Kori-1 NPP in 2012 to highlight profound deficiencies in the country’s nuclear safety culture. He also spoke about the issue of fraudulent safety test results involving JS Cable, a supplier, as an example of systemic corruption and collusion along the nuclear industry supply chain. In the Japan case study, Dr Andrews-Speed revisited the infamous 2011 Fukushima nuclear power accident to illustrate similarly systemic and deep-rooted issues.

In his conclusion, Dr Andrews-Speed reiterated that the way nuclear safety is governed is highly dependent on the wider political economy and societal culture, even in advanced or mature nuclear power countries. While both South Korea and Japan have taken steps to improve the governance of nuclear safety, changes are incremental, and significant challenges remain.

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