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A damning indictment

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9 July 2012 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In a damning indictment of the Japanese nuclear establishment, including plant operators, the government and regulators, a 10-member commission appointed by parliament to inquire into the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the worst nuclear accident in a quarter century, has described it as “a profoundly manmade disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”

Blasting the smugness that has prevailed all these years in the country’s nuclear establishment, the 641-page report by the commission lays the blame squarely on Tokyo Electric Power Co, which operated the plant, for not having taken adequate measures before the March 11, 2011, disaster. Condemning the ‘collusion’ between the company, the government and the regulators, the report accuses Tokyo Electric for manipulating its ‘cozy relationship’ with regulators.

The searing indictment of the worst nuclear disaster in recent times was also critical of the Japanese culture of conformism, suppressing dissent and independent views. “Across the board, the commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organisation that deals with nuclear power,” it rued. “We found a disregard for global trends and a disregard for public safety.”

While the nuclear power plant operator claimed that the meltdown occurred in three of the six nuclear reactors following the tsunami — triggered off by a massive earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale — the commission tore through this argument, suggesting the temblor could have damaged the plant.

Ominously, the report was released by the Fukushima nuclear accident independent investigation commission just hours after the Kansai Electric Power Co’s Ohi plant in western Japan began supplying nuclear power to the grid. It is the first nuclear reactor to be restarted since last year’s tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant and led to the shutting down of all nuclear reactors. The Ohi plant is believed to be located above an active fault.

Shockingly, the commission found that though the Nuclear Safety Commission had revised its quake resistance standards in 2006 and directed all operators to check their reactors, Tokyo Electric failed to carry out the checks and the regulator also did not bother to follow it up.

 The commission’s report once again revives fears about the safety of nuclear plants around the globe. Similar concerns were raised after the two major accidents at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979 and in Chernobyl in the former USSR in 1986. While its proponents claim that nuclear power is a clean and safe source of energy, meeting the growing needs of the world’s hunger for electricity, critics will cite the findings of the commission to highlight the fact that lapses can and do occur in even the best governed nations, posing a serious threat to humanity.
Khaleej Times

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