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Michael E. Ryan
Director of University Accreditation
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
University at Buffalo
The Tokaimura Accident: Nuclear Energy and Reactor Safety

The 1999 accident at the Tokaimura nuclear fuel processing plant near Tokyo is the context for a student discussion on nuclear power and the consequences of a nuclear accident. This particular accident was chosen because of the associated dramatic aftermath. Although the chemical and nuclear industries are indeed very safe, the potential for serious consequences as a result of an accident is especially significant. The case covers issues ranging from chemical process safety to risk management of chemical industries to the ethical responsibilities of the chemical engineer. The activity was developed for use in a chemical engineering laboratory, unit operations, or chemical plant design course in order to introduce the subject of hazard identification and process safety.