Disaster Planning Nightmare: Fukushima tsunami safety plan – a Single Page

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Disaster Planning

HEADLINE: Fukushima tsunami safety plan: a single page

SUMMARY: In a one-page document from 2001, Tokyo Electric Power Co. ruled out the possibility of a tsunami large enough to knock its Fukushima Dai-ichi plant offline and gave scant details to justify this conclusion, which proved to be wildly optimistic.

The memo has text, boxes, numbers and a tiny map of Japan indicating where historical earthquakes are believed to have struck. TEPCO considered five quakes, ranging from 8.0 to 8.6 magnitude, in northeastern Japan, and a 9.5 magnitude across the Pacific near Chile, as examples of possible tsunami-causing temblors. Over the next nine years, despite advances in earthquake and tsunami science, the document was never updated.

Analysis by Jim Satterfield, Firestorm President/COO

You are in an earthquake zone. You are subject to tsunamis. You employ hundreds of workers. Thousands depend on your company. Your company has highly dangerous and toxic materials. You invested hundreds of millions in your facility. Your production has the capability to create a large-scale disaster.

Sounds intimidating … not really?

How about a one-page plan? One size fits all? No.

“This is all we saw,” said Masaru Kobayashi, who now heads NISA’s quake-safety section. “We did not look into the validity of the content.”

As facts come out after a disaster or crisis (they always surface), no one expected to find a major utility so completely unprepared. One page? Really? Monday morning quarterbacking is always easy. Coulda, woulda, shoulda ring out clearly. Nothing had happened before. Why worry now?

How does your Disaster plan align with best practices?

Tokyo Electric Power Co was OK; until they weren’t. Most companies plan for the normal, the routine, those things that happened before. We get used to thinking about bell curves. Handling all the events that make of the majority of the likely risks. However, it is the outlier, the Black Swan, which can destroy an organization quickly.

We clearly see now that these events, dismissed by “experts” as unlikely, occurred. Each year we see the once-in-a-hundred years or more events happen. What can’t go wrong, does. Disaster Denial does not make everything go away. When we were children and feared monsters at night, turning on the lights made them disappear. The events and impacts in Japan and around the world are not going away.

Can planning stop the Black Swans? No. But planning and preparing can mitigate the impacts, save lives, and facilitate recovery.

What are your Black Swans? What can you do? Start now. Predict.Plan.Perform.® If you are explaining after an event you are losing and may never recover.

Is there a gap in your plans that you would have to explain after a Black Swan? If in doubt where to start, call Firestorm.

Want more information on Disaster Planning and other business critical matters? Join us each Wednesday afternoon at 2 PM EDT in the month of June for our Critical Decision Support webinar series

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