Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Called "Man-made"
Created: 2012-07-09 11:07 EST
Anti-nuclear protesters shout slogans and hold placards as they stage a demonstration on July 7, 2012. (RIE ISHII/AFP/GettyImages)
The Fukushima nuclear accident was “a manmade disaster,” according to the official report published Thursday (July 5) by the investigation commission.
“The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties,” the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded. “They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents.”
The commission, formed by the National Diet of Japan, also blamed “fundamental causes,” including Japanese cultural conventions and a reluctance to question authority.
After the March 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami off the coast of Japan, the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was badly damaged. As electrical systems failed, coupled with some explosions, plant operators had trouble cooling the reactors. Three of the reactors would suffer meltdowns. The surrounding area was evacuated in the first Level 7 nuclear event since Chernobyl.
The report said that regulators and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) knew of structural deficiencies and the potential risks from a power outage, but failed to act.
“The regulators also had a negative attitude toward the importation of new advances in knowledge and technology from overseas,” the report concluded. “If [the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA)] had passed on to TEPCO measures that were included in the B.5.b subsection of the U.S. security order that followed the 9/11 terrorist action, and if TEPCO had put the measures in place, the accident may have been preventable.”
The commission also made several recommendations. Among them were the reformation of the crisis management system, reforming nuclear laws to meet international standards and monitoring of plant operators and the nuclear regulatory body.
All nuclear reactors in Japan were shutdown by May of this year, as the public lost faith in atomic energy. However, on July 1, the first nuclear reactor was turned back on at the Ohi nuclear power plant, to some protest. Japan’s prime minister Yoshihiko Noda supported the move, stating it was necessary for the economy, as the country faces a summer of potential power shortages.
Nuclear power accounted for 30% of the country’s power supply before the disaster.