The Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent tsunami on 11 March 2011 initiated accident conditions at several nuclear power plants (NPPs) on the north-east coast of Japan and developed into a severe accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, which highlighted a number of nuclear safety issues.

After the Fukushima Daiichi accident, new research and development (R&D) activities have been undertaken by many countries and international organizations relating to severe accidents at NPPs. The IAEA held, in cooperation with the OECD/NEA, the International Experts’ Meeting (IEM) on “Strengthening Research and Development Effectiveness in the Light of the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant” at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, 16–20 February 2015. The objective of the IEM was to facilitate the exchange of information on these R&D activities and to further strengthen international collaboration among Member States and international organizations.

One of the main conclusions of the IEM was that the Fukushima Daiichi accident had not identified completely new phenomena to be addressed, but that the existing strategies and priorities for R&D should be reconsidered. Significant R&D activities had been already performed regarding severe accidents of water cooled reactors (WCRs) before the accident, and the information was very useful for predicting and understanding the accident progression. However, the Fukushima Daiichi accident highlighted several challenges that should be addressed by reconsidering R&D strategies and priorities.

Following this IEM, the IAEA invited several consultants to IAEA Headquarters, Vienna, Austria, 12–14 May 2015, and held a meeting in order to discuss proposals on possible IAEA activities to facilitate international R&D collaboration in relation to severe accidents and how to effectively disseminate the information obtained at the IEM.

The IAEA also held Technical Meeting (TM) on “Post-Fukushima Research and Development Strategies and Priorities” at IAEA Headquarters, Vienna, Austria, 15–18 December 2015. The objective of this meeting was to provide a platform for experts from Member States and international organizations to exchange perspectives and information on strategies and priorities for R&D regarding the Fukushima Daiichi accident and severe accidents in general. The experts discussed R&D topic areas that need further attention and the benefits of possible international cooperation.

This paper discusses lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident based on the presentations and discussions at the meetings mentioned above, and identifies the needs for further R&D activities to develop WCR technologies to cope with Fukushima Daiichi-type accidents.

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