Japan says Fukushima disaster was man-made

Parliamentary panel finds that meltdown at nuclear site was not only due to tsunami, and criticises official response – Published on Al Jazeera, July 5, 2012.

… 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 the report of the commission said: “Despite having a number of opportunities to take measures, regulatory agencies and TEPCO management deliberately postponed decisions, did not take action or took decisions that were convenient for themselves.”

It also said that had the company had its way, its staff would have been evacuated from the crippled plant and the catastrophe could have spiralled even further out of control.

Slow response:

The findings call for further investigation into the impact of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake – as opposed to the towering tsunami – on the reactors at Fukushima.

Giant waves crippled cooling equipment at the Fukushima plant, triggering meltdowns that spewed radioactivity and forced tens of thousands of residents to flee.

The commission said in the past that the Japanese government’s initial response was slow and inadequate because it was unprepared.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Imad Khadduri, nuclear scientist and author, said: “These are officials not scientists. They should have assembled a group of scientists and relied on them, but they didn’t. They stayed in their political jacket suits. Yes, there is a shortcoming in that.”

“But on the whole, if this kind of calamity has happened in any part of the world, I really doubt that the governments and the scientists in the other part of the world would be able to cope as the Japanese did.”

The commission, launched in December at the demand of opposition parties, was designed as an alternative to the administration’s investigation into the worst nuclear crisis in a generation.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission’s chairman, said he was confident that the commission had accomplished a “thorough investigation and verification” process during this time.

Kurokawa also said the report includes a new set of policy proposals that should be “steadily implemented step by step with consistent effort to reform”.

He stressed that it is the responsibility of Diet members to make sure the recommendations are followed.

The commission said it held over 900 hours of hearings and interviewed more than 1,100 people during the investigation.

Among those interviewed were Japan’s former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, as well as key members from TEPCO. (full text).

Link: Noam Chomsky speaking of truth and power, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by David Tresilian, 3 – 9 June 2010.

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