Japan declares Fukushima crisis ‘man-made’
A Japanese parliamentary report into the Fukushima meltdowns has found the accident was a preventable man-made disaster.
The parliamentary report says the meltdowns were foreseeable, slamming plant operator TEPCO and nuclear regulators for ignoring warnings of big earthquakes and tsunamis.
It also blames collusion between the government, regulators and nuclear companies for betraying Japan’s right to be safe.
“They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made’,” the report by the Diet’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission said.
“We believe that the root causes were the organisational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual.”
The report says TEPCO and nuclear regulators were aware of the risks of a power outage at Fukushima five years before the disaster but TEPCO did nothing to prepare for it.
It says the company had organisational problems, lacked an accident response plan and its accident manual had diagrams missing.
The report also says TEPCO manipulated its cosy relationship with the nuclear regulators to “take the teeth out of regulations”.
[TEPCO] were told in 2006 that if a tsunami was to reach the level of the site that it could cause an outage of power. They were aware of the risk of reactor core damage from the loss of seawater pumps, in case of a tsunami larger than what was predicted.
They basically knew, and so did the regulators, that this was possible but the regulators did not push them to make any changes to the plant and TEPCO did not voluntarily make the changes needed to deal with this scenario.
North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy
Then prime minister Naoto Kan comes under fire for interfering in the response to the disaster.
The report also condemns TEPCO’s behaviour as inconsistently unclear, blasting the company for failing to disclose information it feared was inconvenient.
The probe is the third of its kind in Japan since the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a generation.
An earlier report by TEPCO had all but cleared the huge utility, saying the size of the earthquake and tsunami was beyond all expectations and could not reasonably have been foreseen.
But an independent group of scholars and journalists, who reported their findings in February, said TEPCO could and should have done more.
Although many scientists and activists have questioned the dominant narrative that cooling systems were knocked out by last year’s tsunami, the government and TEPCO have been unwilling to say the reactors could have been damaged by the initial earthquake.
Tectonically volatile Japan has a network of nuclear reactors that, until Fukushima, had supplied around a third of the nation’s electricity.
The nuclear industry has long boasted of its many safeguards against earthquakes, but much recent public opposition to atomic power has focused on plants’ vulnerability, especially those that sit near seismic faults.
Topics:nuclear-accident, world-politics, government-and-politics, disasters-and-accidents, japan