今年3月11日發生達9.0強度的地震以及致命的海嘯，導致東京電力公司的福島第一核電廠反應爐失去正常運作功能。電力的短缺導致核燃料冷卻系統關閉。部分的核燃料棒熔毀，在六個反應爐的其中三個引起氫氣爆炸，釋放了高放射性的輻射物質到空氣、土壤，以及海水中。就在兩週前，日本的原子力安全保安院將危機警戒提高至七級，也就是國際核能事件分級表(UN's International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale)的最嚴重等級，相當於車諾比事故後所記錄到的嚴重性。車諾比事故也是世上迄今另一也受列為等級七的核災。
本次的車諾比宣示會議(Chernobyl Pledging Conference)中，提出了募款興建強化防罩建築(sarcophagus)的需求，以將毒性汙染物質再封閉一個世紀。長期以來，降雪、雨水，以及鏽蝕已經讓25年前蓋的第一層強化防罩建築逐漸毀壞，依當初設計規畫的目的，此強化防罩建築總共將只能維持20年。
歐盟執委會的主席巴洛索(Jose Manuel Barroso)於會議中表示，車諾比事故與這次日本福島的事故都提醒了我們，核災的蔓延並不會因為國界而停止。
歐盟執委會與美國代表前國安顧問布賽辛基(Zbigniew Brzezinski )分別於會議中宣誓將投入1億5千6百萬美金及1億2千3百萬美金，供興建車諾比汙染遮蔽防護建築用。會議中捐贈金額總數達7億8千萬美金，完成興建強化防罩的費用共計10億美元，而要完成新強化防罩的成本則須20億美元，預計將於2015年年底前完成。
首先，提升核能安全必須從「由上至下進行審視」現在的核能安全標準開始，包括國內以及國際的標準。各國政府必須將這兩個核災所學到的教訓納入考量，並且採取最嚴格的可行安全標準，他建議道，「這包括了安全性的預警，員工訓練，一個可靠的品保系統，以及獨立的法規監督。這也代表了如果要得到大眾的信任，需要更高的透明度。」潘基文表示，許多政府機關已經開始重新評估他們的國家政策以及法規，「上週於維也納舉行的核能安全公約(Convention on Nuclear Safety)審視會議也提出了許多有用的建議。」，並建議所有尚未承諾此公約的政府「不應有任何延遲。」
潘基文表示，現在該是強化聯合國原子能總署能量的時候了，以進一步發展以及運用最嚴格的可行核能安全標準。即將在六月於維也納召開的IAEA核能安全部長級會議將提供達成此要求的討論論壇。潘基文也表示他將會考慮在九月的年度聯合國大會(UN General Assembly)開幕時，當全球領袖齊聚紐約時召開一個高層會議，以強化國際核能安全的權責。他說，「我們需要國際通用標準，供各國在興建、公共安全協議的保障，完全透明化，以及國際資訊分享時使用。」
潘基文表示，「我們必須更著重於了解天然災害與核能安全之間的連結。氣候變遷的挑戰已經帶來了更極端的氣候。核電廠必須對因應各種災害有更完善的準備，從地震到海嘯，從火災到水災皆然。」根據國際原能總署的資料顯示，全球共有64個核反應爐正在進行興建。現今全球共有443個核反應爐在29個國家運轉，其中有些核反應爐位於地層活躍地帶。潘基文表示，「這需要我們重視面對災害的準備，不管是富裕或是貧窮的國家都一樣。這次發生核災的日本就是在所有國家中有著最完善準備，以及核能發電技術最先進的國家之一。」潘基文也表示他將會確保核能事故災害準備的議題將會被包括在五月時日內瓦舉辦的第三屆降低災害風險全球平台會議(Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction)中。
潘基文表示，「第四，我們必須重新展開核能的成本-效益分析。」在禁止核武擴散條約(Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)中已揭示了以和平的目的使用核能的權益。而核能在很多國家仍可能持續做為重要的發電資源，並且可能是低碳排放的能源策略之一。但是秘書長聲明，「核能必須在全球實現安全性。現在該是我們停下來，重新思考能源策略的時候了。」他表示，將會在聯合國系統中展開全面研究，以了解福島核災的本質以及其帶來的意含。
潘基文表示，「第五，我們必須在核能安全與核子安全之間建立更強化的連結關係。當恐怖分子以及其他人尋求核子材料與技術時，核電廠嚴謹的安全系統將可以鞏固核子安全的工作。一個對該社區而言更安全的核電廠，就是對我們的世界更安全的核電廠。」「如同去年我在華盛頓的核子安全高峰會(Nuclear Security Summit)所提議的，一個廣泛的合作關係對建立核能安全與核子安全的架構而言極為關鍵。這個方法對2012年首爾核子安全高峰會的準備來說極為重要。」
As he prepared to visit Chernobyl 25 years after the world's worst nuclear disaster, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined a five-step plan to strengthen global nuclear safety. In view of the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan, Ban's plan emphasizes "the new nexus between natural disasters and nuclear safety," and "requires the active cooperation of the nuclear industry."
The ongoing nuclear power plant crisis in Japan, like the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago in Ukraine, calls for "deep reflection" on the future of nuclear energy, Ban said today.
"As we are painfully learning once again, nuclear accidents respect no borders," Ban told the Summit on the Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy, held in Kiev.
"They pose direct threats to human health and the environment. They cause economic disruptions, affecting everything from agricultural production to trade and global services," said Ban.
"Because the consequences are catastrophic, safety must be paramount," said the secretary-general. "Because the consequences are transnational, they must be debated globally."
The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and deadly tsunami on March 11 disabled the nuclear reactors at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Power failures shut down the nuclear fuel cooling systems. Partial meltdowns of the fuel rods caused hydrogen gas explosions in three of the plant's six reactors, releasing highly radioactive substances to air, soil and sea.
Last week, Japan's nuclear safety agency raised the crisis level at the plant to a Level 7, the highest rank on the UN's International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale and equivalent to the severity recorded after the Chernobyl disaster, which is the only other nuclear accident ever to have been rated a Level 7 event.
An explosion and fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on April 26, 1986 spewed radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western Russia and Europe. At least 330,000 people had to be relocated. Now, millions of people live on contaminated land and a central core is closed forever to human habitation.
The Chernobyl Pledging Conference today raised the major part of funds needed to construct a sarcophagus to house the toxic remains for another century. Snow, rain and rust have weakened the first shelter, built 25 years ago and designed to last 20.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the conference that Chernobyl and recent events in Fukushima, Japan, were a reminder that nuclear risks do not stop at a country's borders.
Barroso pledged $156 million from the European Union to rebuild the Chernobyl containment shell. The United States delegation, led by former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski made the largest single nation donation, $123 million.
By the end of the day, pledges had come in for $780 million of the final $1 billion needed to finish the containment. Total cost for the new sarcophagus is $2 billion. It is expected to be complete by the end of 2015.
"By joining forces, we can make sure that the tragedies of Chernobyl and Fukushima are a thing of the past, not a harbinger of the future," Secretary-General Ban told the summit, introducing his five-step plan to accomplish that goal.
First, Ban said, enhancing nuclear safety must begin with "a top to bottom review" of current nuclear safety standards, both at the national and international levels.
National governments must consider lessons learned from both nuclear disasters and adopt the highest possible safety standards, he advised. "This includes safety precautions, staff training, a reliable quality assurance system, and independent regulatory oversight. It also means greater transparency if there is to be public trust."
Many governments already are reassessing their national policies and regulations, said Ban. "Last week's review meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety in Vienna also produced many useful suggestions," he said, urging all governments that have not acceded to this treaty to do so "without delay."
Second, the secretary-general said the time has come to strengthen the capacity of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, "in the further development and universal application of the highest possible nuclear safety standards."
The upcoming IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in June in Vienna provides the next forum to advance this goal.
Ban said he will consider convening a high-level meeting on strengthening the international nuclear safety regime when world leaders gather in New York this September for the annual opening of the UN General Assembly.
"We need international standards for construction, agreed guarantees of public safety, full transparency and information-sharing among nations," he said.
"Third," Ban said, "we must put a sharper focus on the new nexus between natural disasters and nuclear safety. The challenge of climate change is bringing with it greater extremes of weather. Nuclear power plants must be prepared to withstand everything from earthquakes to tsunamis, from fires to floods."
According to the IAEA, 64 new reactors are under construction. Today, 443 reactors are operating in 29 countries worldwide, some located in areas of seismic activity.
"This requires us to place new importance on disaster preparedness, in rich and poor nations alike," Ban said.
"Japan, after all, is among the best prepared and most technically advanced nuclear energy powers," he said. What are the implications for countries that are less ready for the worst?"
Ban said he would ensure that disaster preparedness for nuclear accidents is included in the Third Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva in May.
"Fourth," said Ban, "we must undertake a renewed cost-benefit analysis of nuclear energy."
The right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy is enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and nuclear power will likely continue to be an important resource for many nations and can be a part of a low-carbon-emission energy mix. But "it has to become credibly safe, and globally so," Ban declared.
"It is time to pause and rethink our approach," Ban said and to this end he plans to launch a UN system-wide study on the implications of the accident at Fukushima.
"Fifth," Ban said, "we need to build a stronger connection between nuclear safety and nuclear security."
"At a time when terrorists and others are seeking nuclear materials and technology, stringent safety systems at nuclear power plants will reinforce efforts to strengthen nuclear security," he said. "A nuclear power plant that is safer for its community is also one that is more secure for our world."
"As I proposed at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington last year," said Ban, "a broad-based partnership is essential to building a better framework for nuclear safety and security. Such an approach is critical in the run-up to the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit."
In the European Union, Barroso told the summit, "We have established a common binding legal framework for the safety of nuclear installations, defining fundamental obligations and principles."
"Moreover," he said, "we are expecting that an EU legally binding framework on the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste will be adopted soon."
Denis Flory, the IAEA deputy director general for nuclear safety and security, told reporters in Vienna that although the situation remains very serious at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, there are early signs of recovery in some functions, such as electrical power and instrumentation.
On Sunday, TEPCO issued a plan to bring the stricken facility under control. The roadmap outlines 63 measures to be taken in two steps over a period of six to nine months.