As the full story about the nuclear criticality accident in Japan unfolds, a few root causes for the accident have emerged. The two commentaries (Perspectives on Safety, Oct. 1), while properly referring to one of the reasons for the accident, the issue of safety culture, do not go far enough.
In Japan, the government body responsible for safety oversight in the nuclear fuel industry is the Science and Technology Agency, which also promotes and develops nuclear power (like the U.S. Department of Energy), rather than their independent regulatory agency. In the U.S. every facet of the nuclear industry, including nuclear fuel plants, is regulated by the independent U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nuclear safety culture must start in the government infrastructure. The industry cannot be regulated by the body that also promotes nuclear power. Would you want a new bridge inspected by the construction company or by the county inspector?