×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Japanese Parliament: Fukushima a Man-Made Disaster

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the who's-to-blame dept.

Japan 134

Bootsy Collins writes "The predominant narrative of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has been that the accident was caused by a one-in-a-million tsunami, an event so unlikely that TEPCO could not reasonably have been expected to plan for it. However, a Parliamentary inquiry in Japan has concluded that this description is flawed — that the disaster was preventable through a reasonable and justifiable level of preparation, and that initial responses were horribly bungled. The inquiry report points a finger at collusion between industry executives and regulators in Japan as well as 'the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture.' It also raises the question of whether the failed units at Fukushimi Daiichi were already damaged by the earthquake before the tsunami even hit, going so far as to say that 'We cannot rule out the possibility that a small-scale LOCA (loss-of-coolant accident) occurred at the reactor No 1 in particular.' This is an explosive question in quake-prone Japan, appearing in the news just as Japan begins to restart reactors that have been shut down nationwide since the disaster."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

134 comments

correct. (1, Flamebait)

swschrad (312009) | about 2 years ago | (#40558095)

stop blaming random "acts of God" for setups man created.

example: I stack 36 pounds of plutonium blocks in the back yard because I want to send ten atoms to all my friends. I just so happened to use an aluminum pan to hold it, and also tossed in a little polonium and a beryllium copper golf club because that crap was in my way.

and the town blows up.

what kind of "act of God" was that?

same thing for Fukushima.

Re:correct. (1)

imagined.by (2589739) | about 2 years ago | (#40558129)

It's not "act of God" vs. man-made, but more like evitable vs. inevitable.

In this case, dismissing the technological aspects and blaming it on human error is intended to let the technology shine as inherently safe, so the japanese power companies can spin up their nuclear reactors again. Nothing to see here, move along please...

oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (4, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | about 2 years ago | (#40558215)

there are lots of reports out and coming, and lots of boiling down hundreds of pages of complex investigation into 20 column-inches, from which, boiled with a pinch of pepper and lots of HappyTalk, you get a 20 second news story.

there are already lots of pages of technical shortcomings, outright ignorance, wishful thinking, dotcom business plans, and pinhead idiots in custom suits strutting before and hiding afterwards trying to protect their secret overseas banking accounts in the wild over this.

Fukushima is pretty much a complete cluster-fuck, a manual of "don't do this" in every direction.

but the Japanese way is one or two men take the blame, grab the sword, and everybody else moves happy through the streets now that the demons are purged.

this report points out the 800-pound gorilla in the corner, whistling past the graveyard, hoping to not attract attention.

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (5, Interesting)

bakarocket (844390) | about 2 years ago | (#40558311)

While I agree that there is a lot of information being lost in the media grinder, and that the handling of Fukushima should be made into the poster child for clusterfuckitude, I would say that this is an example of (some) Japanese politicians taking some of the more rigid aspects of Japanese culture to task.

Also, contrary to what the GP is trying to say, this is not about making the technology appear safe and blaming human error. It even says this in the summary, "We cannot rule out the possibility that a small-scale LOCA (loss-of-coolant accident) occurred at the reactor No 1 in particular."

This reaction is the opposite of what has historically happened in Japan when this sort of issue arises. The ex-TEPCO execs and their government cronies are being lambasted in the press and on the net for being given cushy jobs and TEPCO is being nationalized. Hopefully, harsher measures will be applied (if the furor doesn't die down).

Hopefully, those responsible for the human errors will be made to pay for their mistakes, and those technological shortfalls will be shored up. If they can't be fixed, we'll have to find a new way of getting power.

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (3, Insightful)

McFadden (809368) | about 2 years ago | (#40560159)

I agree, wholeheartedly. It's very unusual to hear Japanese, especially politicians, comment on firmly established elements of their own culture in a negative way. While I doubt we're witnessing a sea change, and to be honest, in a lot of ways Japanese culture is also responsible for a lot of positives (e.g. clean streets, low crime etc.), it's good to see a bit of introspection going on here.

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (2, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40559321)

but the Japanese way is one or two men take the blame, grab the sword, and everybody else moves happy through the streets now that the demons are purged.

In the US, we do the same thing, except without the two guys taking the blame. Instead, they get a golden parachute, an 8 figure settlement, and in two years they write a book and become a celebrity on Fox Business. Maybe they run for office.

Hell, they don't even apologize any more. What's with this guy from Barclay who was stealing these unimaginable sums and is allowed to quietly resign and disappear? These are the new god-kings of our society. They appear to have formed a breakaway culture that is no longer bound by any social or legal conventions.

If somebody asks, "Why isn't somebody in jail?", the answer is always, "It's more important to look forward than backward" and the pundits nod their heads sagely, ignoring the snorts of laughter.

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40560711)

In the US......What's with this guy from Barclay who was stealing these unimaginable sums and is allowed to quietly resign and disappear?

Uh, you realize that Barclays is in England, right? And he hasn't been let go quietly, he was brought before parliament, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. That's after a 290million pound fine.

Dang it, Popie, you should know better than this. Check your facts before posting.

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40561027)

Uh, you realize that Barclays is in England, right? And he hasn't been let go quietly, he was brought before parliament, and a criminal investigation is ongoing. That's after a 290million pound fine.

No, the one that is being investigated is the bank director, not the perpetrators. The perpetrators have already been sacked, and Barclays did not file a police report so no criminal investigation has occurred. The one under public scrutiny has resigned with a golden parachute.

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (1)

squizzar (1031726) | about 2 years ago | (#40561595)

290Million pound fine to the company, so effectively paid for by the shareholders, not by those who actually perpetrated the crime (and still demand their bonuses).

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (3, Interesting)

fritsd (924429) | about 2 years ago | (#40561611)

In other news, I read Oliver North [wikipedia.org] has become a political commentator on Fox "News" (after failing to become a US Senator), so I believe you're spot on :-)

Re:oh, I don't think they're ignoring bad tech (2)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 2 years ago | (#40559457)

this report points out the 800-pound gorilla in the corner, whistling past the graveyard, hoping to not attract attention.

What an incredibly bad mixed metaphor. This is a real Fukushima hash of a sentence. :-)

Re:correct. (1)

polar red (215081) | about 2 years ago | (#40558347)

dismissing the technological aspects and blaming it on human error

the human factor is inherently linked into technology.

Re:correct. (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#40559425)

Then we should restrict ourselves to technologies with less severe consequences for error.

Re:correct. (3, Insightful)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40560041)

part of the human factor is we're absolutely never going to do this. it's not how we work. we learn by making mistakes, and we learn slowly.

Re:correct. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40560145)

Then we should restrict ourselves to technologies with less severe consequences for error.

I agree with you completely. We must ban all cars, and ban all coal burning power plants.
Since nuclear power is the one technology with the least severe consequences, we must increase our nuclear plants by an order of magnitude.

Then tens of millions of people each year would still be alive instead of dead.

OK, so what is the severe consequence for cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40561531)

"Since nuclear power is the one technology with the least severe consequences"

[proof damn well required]

Re:correct. (2)

similar_name (1164087) | about 2 years ago | (#40560245)

In your opinion what is the threshold for acceptable consequences?

Re:correct. (3, Insightful)

fritsd (924429) | about 2 years ago | (#40561655)

If insurance companies are elbowing each other out of the way to get the contract to insure your factory / power plant;
because their income depends on accurately assessing the risk/reward factors.

Actuary [wikipedia.org] is a very well paying profession, I hear.

Nobody wants to insure nuclear power plants. That's an indicator from an unbiased source that they are a bad idea.

Re:correct. (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 2 years ago | (#40559439)

While the intention of putting the blame on human error might be to let the technology shine unblemished, this is just the latest large example that nuclear power generation requires a lot more attention to safely engineering the incredibly failure-prone human component than has ever been done.

We know people and organizations screw up. And we know that the only safe way to prevent that is to put in place very expensive and very inefficient mechanisms of checks and balances between different groups of humans who have very different value systems. Nuclear power cannot be done safely until coalitions of grandmothers interested in the best thing for their grandkids and tree huggers interested in the best thing for the ecosystems have veto power over engineering and financing proposals... and over decisions about daily maintenance.

We can probably do this. Some of the various governments in the USA (city, county, State, and Federal) almost work this way. But safe, long term power from fissionables is not going to come about without this kind of oversight.

Re:correct. (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40559501)

interesting take on it. probably more cynicism than even i have.

considering the pretty comprehensive and scathing indictment of the government regulators as well as TEPCO, i find it hard to draw the same conclusion.

nobody in a million year half-life would believe that nuclear power is inherently safe, just like they wouldn't believe that driving a car or flying in a plane are inherently safe. seems to be a bit of hyperbole there.

nuclear reactions are certainly not inherently safe for people, otherwise we wouldn't have to surround them with so much steel and concrete, with so many backups and defence in depth.

the report pretty much says that TEPCO didn't do the defence in depth right at all, and the regulators were weak as piss in keeping them on the straight and narrow path.

complacency is always a problem in a field where so little goes wrong but so much could go wrong. i'm all for starting the reactors (i couldn't help but think of Kuato there), so long as regulators can... you know, regulate. effectively.

perhaps a cruel and unusual punishment for the execs etc at fault is to be front line on the cleanup. fighting alongside the robots.

Re:correct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40560139)

What has become clear is that running a nuclear reactor safely requires almost as much training as flight crew receive to keep aeroplanes up in the air. But who do we actually have operating nuclear plants? Homer Simpson and his buddies. Now it turns out that when the chips are down, Homer and his buddies can act in brave and selfless ways. But that's no substitute for actually being able to fly the goddamn plane.

And thats why (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40558101)

I would rather the government built and ran them. I trust government workers to stick to engineering spec and scientific guideline more then a company where a CEO will make a larger bonus by putting off storage costs another year.

Re:And thats why (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#40558125)

I would rather the government built and ran them. I trust government workers to stick to engineering spec and scientific guideline more then a company where a CEO will make a larger bonus by putting off storage costs another year.

The government who gives the job to pretty much the cheapest bid?

Re:And thats why (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40558179)

I can't speak for the Japanese government, but in the US money is only ONE component. I have been in bid projects where money was way down on the list, after other factors.

If you have two bids by companies with the same experience, quality, and other factors, then yeah money comes into play.

Re:And thats why (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#40558409)

I would rather the government built and ran them. I trust government workers to stick to engineering spec and scientific guideline more then a company where a CEO will make a larger bonus by putting off storage costs another year.

The government who gives the job to pretty much the cheapest bid?

There was a time when the Government handed out contracts and amazing things were done and done well.

It's only recently, in an era where whistleblowers can more easily rat out bad materials, practices or cheating the contract, where companies seem most interested in seeing what they can get away with. Silly, no?

Re:And thats why (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#40558643)

The government who gives the job to pretty much the cheapest bid?

Or, actually having the government run it, not contract it out.

Re:And thats why (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40561697)

The government who gives the job to pretty much the cheapest bid?

The above statement really makes me want to whack you (and everyone who made this same statement before) on the head with a thick book.

Lowest bidder only applies when you can describe your needs exactly, and thus the only difference between bidders is price. All other cases involve much more factors to consider.

And yes I do this for a living.

Re:And thats why (1)

Korin43 (881732) | about 2 years ago | (#40558127)

The inquiry report points a finger at collusion between industry executives and regulators

Oh look, government workers aren't magically less corrupt than everyone else..

Re:And thats why (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40558163)

It's because corporate money snuggled up to the regulating system.

Corporation work hard to pout their people onto regulatory system, and Japan is especially bad with this type of corruption.
Remove the largest bonus, removed the profit driven decisions and things are a hell of a lot safer.

Re:And thats why (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40560059)

how about this - share dividends are dependent on passing inspections? it could probably still be gamed of course. now if the full documentation of the inspections were available to the masses...

Re:And thats why (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#40558167)

I assume you mean a well run and open democratic government, rather than say the government of the USSR.

While I agree it would be better than a for-profit company I think human beings are basically unable to do this sort of thing without any serious mistakes for long periods of time. Look at NASA, a government agency full of scientists and engineers, management made up of mostly ex-sci/eng people, and they still lost two Shuttles. Human nature I'm afraid.

Re:And thats why (3, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 years ago | (#40558397)

Government workers in general are conscientious and careful workers. There are bad apples of course but they are in general good hard workers with good ethics that simply trade pay for job security.

But, the problem with government isn't the workers, it's the bureaucracy (and political management) forced on them that's goal is to prevent fraud (by putting 5000 pieces of red tape on every action) that causes inefficient government and the requirement that every selection be low bid that handicaps government. For those two reasons alone you'd have to be a friggen idiot to put government in charge of a power plant, even something not dangerous like coal and completely brain dead for something dangerous like a nuclear reactor.

Unless you are willing to cut the handcuffs, allow non competitive bidding (like the private sector can) and remove the red tape that prevents fraud (and expect fraud as a result) you are going to have the worst built, deficient running reactor in the world if you let government build or run it. I'll temper that statement with one caveat, if you allow the millitary to run it you will probably be fine for construction and operation but they'll probably take the waste and dump it in an open pit on the side of the reactor.

At least with private companies you can structure regulation to enhance their desire for safety by making unsafe conditions very unprofitable. But you have to give the regulators teeth, and you have to put in place laws that will pierce the corporate veil for serious accidents and you better be prepared to pay a LOT more for power.

Re:And thats why (1)

WillDraven (760005) | about 2 years ago | (#40559787)

if you allow the millitary to run it you will probably be fine for construction and operation but they'll probably take the waste and dump it in an open pit on the side of the reactor.

I know the US military has been running nuclear reactors in their submarines for over 50 years, and I haven't heard of any improper waste disposal yet. Having the military in charge or at least a strict military discipline like environment seems like a workable solution to the human problem here. I won't say it's foolproof, but I think it might be a better idea than letting private corporations run the fission piles.

Re:And thats why (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40560257)

One thing the military mindset does fairly well is to approach a routine procedure with some sense of urgency and attention. Anyone qualified can run a nuclear plant well for a year; the challenge is nine years down the road, when nothing has gone wrong and complacency sets in. The military fights this with discipline and (perhaps more importantly) relatively rapid turnover of personnel.

Re:And thats why (1)

Elledan (582730) | about 2 years ago | (#40560761)

[..] even something not dangerous like coal [..]

Coal, not dangerous? From acid rain to fine dust particles causing many thousands of deaths among the US population alone each year, fly ash pools spilling into nearby rivers and rendering nearby areas unusable for generations, not to mention the other pollutants and their effect on people and the environment.

Oh sure, not dangerous at all...

Check out the USSR (2)

Quila (201335) | about 2 years ago | (#40558829)

That's an example of government doing it. Many areas of the former East Germany are toxic cesspools because the government didn't care about proper waste disposal.

When a company does this it has to answer to the government. When a government does this it, in theory only, has to answer to the people. But you have probably noticed how little accountability the government has to the people lately.

Re:Check out the USSR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558909)

From the perspective of the German-hating Soviet masters, making those cesspools was a feature, not a drawback.

I don't think anybody supports the kind of non-representative government the USSR and Warsaw Pact had. If anything, in the US, we may have slipped too far in the other direction with Yucca Mountain.

Re:And thats why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558917)

You mean like TVA, a government agency that runs nuclear power plants and was cited by the GAO for willfully disregarding federal regulations on cyber security for those same nuclear power plants?

Or what about the old atomic energy commission that totally disregarded safety in the name of progress and had be broken into two agencies because of inherent conflict of interest?

Yes, you're right, you can trust the government!

Re:And thats why (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#40559067)

I would rather the government built and ran them. I trust government workers to stick to engineering spec and scientific guideline more then a company where a CEO will make a larger bonus by putting off storage costs another year.

That'll be why Challenger and Columbia are in pieces rather than a museum.

Re:And thats why (1)

ngg (193578) | about 2 years ago | (#40559461)

That'll be why Challenger and Columbia are in pieces rather than a museum.

Yes, um, about that... [unitedspacealliance.com] I'm sorry, what were you saying?

Re:And thats why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40559085)

I would rather the government built and ran them. I trust government workers to stick to engineering spec and scientific guideline more then a company where a CEO will make a larger bonus by putting off storage costs another year.

Two words, "Lowest Bid".

Not one in a million (1)

byteherder (722785) | about 2 years ago | (#40558119)

Anyone who thought a tsunami hitting Japan was one in a million need to have there head examined.

Or as least, have their math examined. This was just a issue of bad statistical calculations, along with bad disaster planning.

Re:Not one in a million (4, Informative)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | about 2 years ago | (#40558151)

Sigh. I submitted this story in a hurry this morning before I left for work; and I typed "one-in-a-million" when the part of my brain that isn't dead had meant to type "once-in-a-millenium," which is the actual argument TEPCO makes.

I hate getting old.

Re:Not one in a million (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558427)

Yes. That such a big tsunami might occur within the timeframe that the nuclear plant was running might be a rare event, but tsunamis almost as strong had historically occurred [wikipedia.org] along that coastline. This was not the first Richter M8+ earthquake and associated large tsunami along the Sendai coast. The Sendai Plain has sediment layers going back a few thousand years with previous events that inundated the area to several metres deep at the coastline. The plant protection was not adequate for the *known* events at ~1000-year scale. That's just foolish.

If TEPCO makes the argument that they shouldn't have to prepare for the possibility of a once-in-a-1000-year event during the operation of a plant running for almost 50 years, then they're crazy.

Re:Not one in a million (3, Informative)

cheesecake23 (1110663) | about 2 years ago | (#40559101)

Your little brain freeze notwithstanding, that was an exemplary summary of a complex report. The mea culpa is also appreciated.

For those who want to read a little more, there's a very good article over at Ars Technica [arstechnica.com], which in turn links to the full English report from the Japanese parliamentary inquiry [naiic.go.jp] as well as an IEEE Spectrum account of the immediate aftermath [ieee.org].

Re:Not one in a million (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40558207)

A tsunami this size. You should bear in mind that:

plate tectonics was a new science when these where built; no one accounted for Japan dropping a meter in such a rush, and the size of the tsunami.

It's not 1 in a million that any tsunami would every hit.

This was such a huge disaster because the corporate board kept putting of proper waste management due to costs.

Re:Not one in a million (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558297)

I reckon it was such a huge disaster thanks to those in charge turning a blind eye to all the potential issues (which later became realised). It was easy to see in the news that experts across the world were concerned, but every update from Japan claimed that the power station was under control, for about a week after the tsunami hit.

Really, really bad (3, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#40558141)

This just confirms two major an so far insurmountable problems that people have been pointing out.

1. No amount of upgrades will deal with chronic underfunding, poor management and incompetence. New designs don't deal with these problems either because it is next to impossible. There has to be ongoing maintenance and investment, and you have to have a firm date for decomissioning which you don't extend past. All the time for-profit businesses are running the plants this is impossible, even with the existing massive subsidies.

2. The best reactor designs in the world are only good up to about a 7.9 on the Richter scale. The epicentre of this one was a long way from Fukushima but may still have damanged it. If there is one closer to a nuclear plant the outcome is basically undefined and we are just crossing our fingers.

Re:Really, really bad (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40558239)

" and you have to have a firm date for decomissioning which you don't extend past"
no, you can reasonably extend decommission for several perfectly valid engineering and scientific reasons.
So it doesn't have to be a hard date. However you need to have a way to force decommissioning if the engineering and sciecne doesn't make sense to do so.

". If there is one closer to a nuclear plant the outcome is..."
Which is why waste needs to be dealt with correctly and then shipped elsewhere and buried. Actually you could make glass cubes and then drop the wasted into the deepest parts of the ocean.

Re:Really, really bad (2)

WillDraven (760005) | about 2 years ago | (#40559851)

Actually you could make glass cubes and then drop the wasted into the deepest parts of the ocean.

Today's waste is tomorrow's fuel. I think we should keep this stuff where we can easily get to it when we want to.

Re:Really, really bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558507)

1. True, but the base 'safety level' of the new designs are at a much higher level than the base levels of previous generation—which need to be upgraded to maintain what the newer designs give you by default. So if you're going to spend $x billion, you might as well go with the new design.

2. The frequency of 8+ earthquakes are rather small. And it seems that for Fukushima, most of the problems started when the tsunami hit the plant. I'm sure in an alternative timeline the whole thing was a non-event as the diesel generators (which were not facing the ocean) kicked in and provided the necessary cooling. Of course with new designs (cf. above) you get passive cooling so it wouldn't matter if a tsunami would have take out any generators.

Re:Really, really bad (1)

oiron (697563) | about 2 years ago | (#40561343)

There is a fairly strong evidence stream that says that the first LOCA happened before the tsunami hit, though...

The report touches on that too!

Re:Really, really bad (1)

FirstOne (193462) | about 2 years ago | (#40558877)

"2. The best reactor designs in the world are only good up to about a 7.9 on the Richter scale."

3. Or the next Upstream Dam failure.... [times.org]

"NRC report says 35 Nuclear power plants in the US are threatened by potential upstream dam failure"!!!
How much do you want to bet, that the NRC gives these "at risk" plants 20 year operating license extensions??

Re:Really, really bad (2)

Target Drone (546651) | about 2 years ago | (#40558879)

I would add that a futher compounding factor is that nuclear power is too expensive. Originally the promise when it was first being developed was power too cheap to be metered. You would just pay a flat monthly fee. If nuclear had turned out to be significantly cheaper than all other power sources than it would be much easier to regulate additional expensive safety features, inspections, etc.

Re:Really, really bad (2)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40560229)

too cheap to meter was most likely the promise of a Very Big weapons program, and the economy of scale that brings. if the government has a vested interest in lots of nuke power, they get a lot easier to build.

the MAGNOX plants in the UK are a good example of this. basically a less thermally efficient and less insane answer to the USSR's RBMK plants.

Re:Really, really bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40560301)

Or the next Carrington event

http://www.naturalnews.com/033564_solar_flares_nuclear_power_plants.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

Re:Really, really bad (2)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40560371)

No amount of upgrades will deal with chronic underfunding, poor management and incompetence.

That's not a problem much less an "insurmountable" one. You don't use upgrades to solve that sort of thing any more than you'd use a hammer to polish wine glasses. There are appropriate tools for appropriate jobs and problems. I would suggest here regulation and frequent tests of emergency preparedness as the appropriate tools.

The best reactor designs in the world are only good up to about a 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Again this is not an insurmountable problem, because again it isn't a problem. Here, it is a sound engineering choice. Here, it turns out cheaper to avoid building a plant directly on such a fault rather than to engineer a plant capable of sustaining that sort of acceleration.

The vast majority of places on Earth simply are incapable of generating earthquake accelerations comparable to sitting almost directly on a 7.9 earthquake.

Major Uh-Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558165)

Although Parliament elections in August/Sept. are just about certain the replacement for the PM will be no better able to understand the basics [regarding anything] nor capable to change the 'Nuclear Village Culture' because the new PM will be the candidate of the Nuclear Village Culture.

So it is just a matter of time before the next Government/Industry made disaster, which has already been made and is just waiting for the right moment to occur.

Yeah, turns out shutting down everything = bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558213)

Feeling that squeeze now, aren't ya Japan?
Get the reactors back on you fruitloops. Reactors are safe, the idiots who made Fukushima weren't.

Or let me rephrase that, most reactor designs are safe.

Re:Yeah, turns out shutting down everything = bad (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40558291)

It's a some-hundreds-of-pages report, so I wouldn't have expected you to have read it; but is it too much to skim the summary that TFA kindly provides?

The report's punchline is that TEPCO fucked up, and nuclear oversight and response are deeply rotten on both the operator and the regulator sides due to chronic regulatory capture and fecklessness. Honestly, that's a conclusion even more difficult to fix than some sort of design problem. Machines can be repaired. Deep cultural rot is much harder to root out, and makes it very likely that, even where solutions do exist, they will not be reliably enacted.

It's really about the most damning conclusion that the report could have arrived at...

Re:Yeah, turns out shutting down everything = bad (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#40559209)

Yeah the problem was 100% human. On the contrary, nuclear technology is 100% safe.

Re:Yeah, turns out shutting down everything = bad (1)

FishTankX (1539069) | about 2 years ago | (#40559147)

The design for the reactor in question was actually American.

Re:Yeah, turns out shutting down everything = bad (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#40560199)

Indeed. And there are quite a few of these "well engineered" pieces of crap in the USA.

Re:Yeah, turns out shutting down everything = bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40560083)

Get the reactors back on you fruitloops.

ITYM "fluitroops"

Hysterical hyperbole. (1, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 2 years ago | (#40558263)

There has been a tsunami that killed over 10000 people and demolished multiple cities and dozens of chemical plants and factories. If this was a man-made disaster where the fuck was the planning to prevent it? Why are we still talking about the nuclear plant, where at most a couple of dozen people will die in the next hundred years?

Sure, we could have done more to prevent the damage in Fukushima, like build units from a newer generation (fukushima daichi's sister plant survived the same tsunami, but was slightly younger and thus had much less problems), have better oversight, regulation, emergency response etc. However, that is like asking what could have been done better about shark deaths in Nevada ("noone expected it to happen", "zomg, sharks!"), and totally ignoring deaths by drugs abuse, cancer, transportation accidents and cardiovascular causes in the meantime.

The point is, reinforcing Fukushima would have been a waste of money and effort, money and effort that would have been better spent on building better flood barriers to protect places where people actually live.

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (0)

0olong (876791) | about 2 years ago | (#40558403)

If you're going to call a parliamentary inquiry hyperbole, you better have something to back that bold statement up with. Yet all you come up with is grandiose value judgments containing no facts, no numbers, no sources, and nothing of substance whatsoever. Hold a mirror up in front of you, and maybe --in a hysterical feat of irony-- you will find where the origin of said hyperbole really lies. Pompous windbags like you, "beautiful mind", are why I dislike Slashdot more and more these days. For shame.

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558461)

If you believe global warming. I don't think the heat will be the end game the doomsayers say but ocean acidification may very well be. Ether way we would probably have been able to prevent thousand to billions of deaths by simply having built more nuclear plants. Even if we'd had 10x the number of meltdowns per plant then we currently have. We'd still be ahead by a vast sum of lives and they would have probably enjoyed a higher standard of living in the coming years. Now, am not going to say solar and wind won't work today but I'm saying had we switch to nuclear in the 50s-70s when it was the only real alternative to coal, oil, gas, etc. We would be way ahead even with some really nasty disasters. Also, we probably would have built nuclear rockets to bring man further into space. This is really one of the greatest losses. If space aliens find us dead from runaway C20 and realize that we had the Tech to build nuclear way before the shit hit the fan they will know we deserved our fate. .

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (2)

xs650 (741277) | about 2 years ago | (#40558465)

The point is, reinforcing Fukushima would have been a waste of money and effort, money and effort that would have been better spent on building better flood barriers to protect places where people actually live.

The company decided a complete disaster was worth risking because it was only a once in 1000 years probability. Considering the risk, that was an irresponsible choice. Providing a robust cooling/shutdown system wouldn't have cost much more than the system they built. The plant would still have been lost but the gross amount of radiation leakage wouldn't have happened.

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (1, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 2 years ago | (#40558587)

You can always do better, especially with the advantage of hindsight. Worrying about Fukushima's failure in retrospect is however the equivalent of picking faults in the security of a garden gate when there is no fence around the property at all.

If it was irresponsible to build a power plant without higher flood protection and keep the old design running for as long as they did, how much more irresponsible was neglecting tsunami protection for the half million people in the area that resulted in more than 15k deaths and 340k people getting displaced? [wikipedia.org]. The parliamentary inquiry should have been focused on that, not driven by the people's irrational and overblown fear of the word "nuclear".

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40560267)

how do you convince an electrical utility company to build seawalls for 355k people with the money they _weren't_ going to spend on seawalls for themselves?

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558473)

Right on target!!! + 1000 Mod points

Enough said!

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558573)

Well, they only needed to deal with flooding, as in,

  1. put at least a few of the generators on that HILL behind the reactors

  2. run WATERPROOF and reinforced cables (so they don't break if something falls on them) from those hill installed generators to each of the buildings

  3. Make the most vital parts of the nuclear plant, the reactor building itself, water resistant (eg. doors open outside, not inside) with water pumps to catch leaks.

A plant like that should be under 10m of water, get water logged, but still not melt down. Heck, passively safe systems would work too.

So no, I don't agree that reinforcing Fukushima would have been a bad thing. It would have saved some money and a lot of grief in the long run.

Regardless, total compensation for the disaster is expected to be about 200-250 billion USD equivalent (yen). Japan is now burning through about 35-45 billion USD hard currency per year to replace nuclear power with fossil fuels and they are running short. So one Fukushima level disaster every 5-6 years is what nuclear power is saving in costs to Japanese economy. And that is why Japan without nuclear power is a dead economy.

As for the "environmentalists" saying doom and gloom, the entire effect of nuclear power disaster like that is quite local. Not good for Japan *people*, but completely unimportant from the world population. Heck, it could even be a positive thing for the natural world. Nature can reclaim 10s of sq. mi. of land simply because it is now undesirable by humans for a few generations. So I have now idea how so called environmentalists say nuclear power is bad.. If all goes right - it doesn't emit CO2 or toxins. If it goes tits-up, people leave the area and allow nature to thrive... I have yet to see an animal care if it has 1% or 10% increased chance of a tumor in its lifetime! It seems to care more if it gets run over by a car or shot or its habitat made into another Walmart.

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40560297)

Japan is about 95% forest, and has been since shogunate times.

but it's a pretty good point - natural selection doesn't care too much about increased cancer risk on timescales far longer than the length of an average generation in that species.

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558811)

The situation is nothing like generally worrying about dying from a shark attack in Nevada. This is more like owning a shark aquarium in Nevada that is open to the public, but not installing adequate protections to keep the public from swimming in the tank, and not having adequate first-aid facilities in the unlikely event that someone does manage to get in there. It's part of the *job* of running the business to keep the public safe. The task was the same for TEPCO: keep the public safe. That includes from one-in-1000-year rare events at the scale of historical events such as the 869AD earthquake and tsunami that flooded almost the same area as the 2011 tsunami.

Your point about the scale of direct damage and deaths from the tsunami versus the nuclear disaster is a valid one, but TEPCO doesn't deserve any sympathy for the failure to do *their* part of the job. Their failure meant emergency efforts had to be divided between handling the direct tsunami effects and the nuclear risks. The worst part about the latter was not knowing how serious the accident might eventually be, which meant a lot of wasted resources at the time that could have been better spent elsewhere. They made a bad situation worse. That is TEPCO's fault. Reinforcing Fukushima to better survive this event would NOT have been a "waste", it would have freed up all those emergency resources, and let the government focus on many of the things you emphasize, although I'm not sure that more tsunami barriers is the best approach.

Read the last few lines of this section [wikipedia.org]:

"A Japanese government study found that only 58% of people in coastal areas in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures heeded tsunami warnings immediately after the quake and headed for higher ground. Of those who attempted to evacuate after hearing the warning, only five percent were caught in the tsunami. Of those who didn't heed the warning, 49% were hit by the water."

That suggests if you want to save lives in a more effective way, the biggest investment should be in location-specific education (i.e. where to go and what to do in the event of a warning), more reliable tsunami prediction (i.e. avoid false alarms that make people complacent), and more effective evacuation plans, probably not in tsunami barriers that are very expensive and may or may not be up to the task anyway. The safest place to be is not in the path of the tsunami, whether or not a barrier works.

Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (2)

chitokutai (758566) | about 2 years ago | (#40560651)

You kind of missed the point of this whole review, didn't you?

As someone who lives in Japan, and in fact in one of the more radioactively contaminated areas outside Fukushima (which isn't that bad), I sure as hell want them to figure out what went wrong and fix it. They called it a man-made error, which in and of itself is an important step in saying that the whole system from the ground up needs to be revised. They even use the word colluded to describe the relationship between the NISA and TEPCO. These are the kinds of issues that can and should be addressed.

As for the power plants themselves, TEPCO all the other energy companies were given a free ride for years, avoiding having to make any upgrades or adjustments to safety regulations. Does that sound like the kind of nuclear industry you want running your power plants? The report even says that if the Japanese nuclear officials had improved the plants in line with the US standards adopted in the 9/11 report, they could have potentially survived these disasters without problem.

Finally, the kinds of flood and tsunami protections you are talking about WERE in place. They were completely overwhelmed, and there is no amount of further prevention other than living away from the ocean that would have saved lives. The Guiness World Record holder for the largest wave breaker was in Kamaishi, and that massive wall was cut in two by the ocean.

So maybe before going on a rant, you might actually read the report and see how important it is for fixing the corruption that has ruled the power industry monopolies for years.

Well since they know better (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#40558285)

Why didnt they warn the operators beforehand, that sounds like negligence.

See how that works?

I'm surprised (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40558359)

I'm honestly surprised by this.

Not the "it was human error, TEPCO fucked up and could easily have avoided the disaster" part. That was completely expected. I was suspecting as much before they even had it shut down.

Nor am I surprised about the "collusion between industry and regulators". That was also a given.

What I *am* surprised about is that they're admitting to it this quickly. I expected it to be a decade or two before TEPCO or the government would admit that anything but the earthquake/tsunami were to blame. And that they're even blaming their own culture of discipline... wow. That's some harsh self-criticism.

Re:I'm surprised (2)

MagikSlinger (259969) | about 2 years ago | (#40558479)

What I *am* surprised about is that they're admitting to it this quickly. I expected it to be a decade or two before TEPCO or the government would admit that anything but the earthquake/tsunami were to blame. And that they're even blaming their own culture of discipline... wow. That's some harsh self-criticism.

Exactly. Japanese Parliamentary reports are usually cover-ups or whitewashes of political and industry screw ups. This is probably a first in Japanese post-war history!

Re:I'm surprised (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#40559299)

I'll throw my tinfoil hat into the ring.

Sometimes it's better to blame people than to blame nature. People can be fixed. Nature, not so much.

"Oh, the problem was this collusion between industry and regulators. So we'll pass some new laws and we'll hire watchers to watch the watchers and everything will be just fine. We can turn the other reactors back on."

Compared to:

"Oh, the problem was that this big tsunami--the biggest tsunami in 1,142 years--came along and there's no way we could plan for such an event and, by the way, all of these other reactors could possibly be affected by something unforeseen and make those areas unlivable and there really isn't anything that can realistically be done. But we'll turn those other reactors back on and just hope that something bad doesn't happen."

Re:I'm surprised (4, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#40559669)

Because there are elections coming, and Japan is sick of nuclear power, so everyone wants to appeal to them, all with their own perverse logic.

The ruling party (Demoratic Party of Japan, Minshuto), which split recently, is about to lose badly, and many DPJ MPs will try to save themselves by appearing to have some record for toughness and competence.

The major opposition party, the Jiminto (LDP, liberal democratic party) was in power during the time when the power plants were built, and it is LDP governments who made the rules and the regulators that created the conditions for this outrage. Naturally, the politicians from LDP will want as much distance from this Fukushima trouble as they can get.

There is then the bunch of minor, one-day parties each of whom wants as much credit for toughness as they can, so that they can ride the popular anger.

So, you get a drive for toughness out of the usual sleazy, self-serving motives.

Re:I'm surprised (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#40560069)

...That's some harsh self-criticism.

Some individuals will take the fall in order to preserve the system, because that is what is most important.

Re:I'm surprised (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40560133)

They're criticizing the damn system!

Re:I'm surprised (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#40560195)

And the system will save itself by sacrificing those individuals, and then claiming all is well... and of course you'll hear exactly the same thing after the next disaster.

Jedi business.. go back to your drinks...

Re:I'm surprised (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40560397)

What would be the point of a run-around, politically? Blame a few people, have a scapegoat ritual for public consumption, and get back to business.

How unexpectedly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558361)

predictable.

"The inquiry report points a finger at collusion between industry executives and regulators"

Anarchists, libertarians, objectivists, classical liberals, and free market economists have all made the explicit case that this is the inevitable outcome of statism applied to the peaceful and voluntary marketplace. The notion that democracy breeds economic fascism has been described in precise detail countless times. These concern has been raised over 100 years ago and have persisted through the years. How long must we suffer the inept domination of central planners before we even consider the arguments why it cannot work? Shall we continue to insist that we just need the right guys in control and then things will be fine? Shall we ignore the evidence and reasoning as to why there is no such person or group of people? Shall we let this corporatist economic environment destroy our civilizations before we decide to stop letting the momentum of history and precedent of popular opinion guide our convictions and begin to actually think critically about the arguments provided? Those who champion more of the same had only credibility with the ignorant. How much longer must even the ignorant be blind to the obvious deception before us?

Re:How unexpectedly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558691)

Wait, what?

You do realise that the problem here was that the "free market" produced a corrupt business which then bribed the government to look the other way, yes?

You do realise that removing regulation doesn't take away the ability to bribe the government to look the other way, yes?

You do realise that all an individual needs is to balance risk/reward for himself, not the business he works for, yes? The goal is not "business profit", it's individual profit.

Libertarians are stupid. I say that in the nicest possible sense: they're a regular combination of ignorance and low intelligence. They don't really think through what they say. I don't think that they would be able to, even if you helped them to train their minds to think in greater depth.

Re:How unexpectedly... (2)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40560345)

- points out that $pet_ideology "predicted" this outcome.
- points out some flaws in a system that is != $pet_ideology
- propose $pet_ideology as solution
- completely ignore any other flaws than $pet_ideology might entail

seems good to me!

WOW! The Parliament is SO SMART!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558433)

They are so smart they figured out there was a problem AFTER the fact. If this event could have been avoided then why didn't the Parliament inquire BEFORE the disaster. Oh that's right, it's always easier to point fingers and blame AFTER the fact.

The idea is to be prepared before the accident so that systems fail safe... Having a system that relies on panicked, error prone humans is a dumb way to do business. They thought there systems would fail safe except the disaster was WAY bigger than anything they planned for. Then after the fact politicians who want to sound important point fingers and lay blame.

Seriously, what level of planetary disaster is sufficient for planning purposes? Because, no matter what you plan for, one day something bigger will occur!!!

3 words (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558535)

Fukushima, Siemens, Stuxnet.

Re:3 words (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#40560355)

nice! but how'd the Israelis cause the tsunami? that's pretty clever of them to blame the earthquake though.

Sorry+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40558827)

It is unexcusable to forget to put an answer machine to tell any tsunami to come back after a while. I assume those out-of-the-box nuclear stations do not come prepared. Or maybe they did but they put the message in English thinking tsunamis are like tornadoes.

Story from three months ago (4, Informative)

jc42 (318812) | about 2 years ago | (#40558971)

Before commenting on this story, people might want to re-read the story about the Onigawa power station's survival [slashdot.org] that was posted here last March. There's pretty clear evidence that at least some managers of Japanese nuclear-power stations understood the tsunami danger and prepared for it. So the main questions should be: Why wasn't this understood by the entire management chain? And what are they doing to make sure they're preparing for the next such disaster?

I'd think that people in Japan should be checking on which of their power system's managers are busy studying this and related stories, and putting those people in charge of the surviving plants. If they don't, then it's just going to happen again at some unknown future date.

Similar comments would apply in most of the other volcanic zones on the planet. Here in the US, we might be checking to see which managers of critical infrastructure on the West Coast are aware of the story and studying it. We may not have the 1000-year history that the Japanese have, but we do have geological information about similar events along our coast.

Re:Story from three months ago (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40560521)

There's pretty clear evidence that at least some managers of Japanese nuclear-power stations understood the tsunami danger and prepared for it.

They all did. And only one location had any trouble with tsunami. Inadequate preparation is not the same as no preparation.

So the main questions should be: Why wasn't this understood by the entire management chain?

Understand what? Everyone understood that tsunami were dangerous and every ocean-side Japanese nuclear plant has sea walls or similar things for thwarting tsunami.

And what are they doing to make sure they're preparing for the next such disaster?

Everyone has always been preparing for the next disaster. Again, it's not a matter of if they're doing it, but whether such preparation is adequate or not. To give an example, we don't actually have that TEPCO's preparation for the Fukushima accident was inadequate given what was known prior to the accident.

We also need to have some desired level of outcome in order to agree on whether preparation is adequate. There's never going to be a zero probability of death from accident (even in the case where nuclear power is scuttled, the alternatives have their own risks).

While you probably are very aware of my points above, it remains that your language is inappropriate. The problem wasn't a lack of understanding of basic risks, but ignorance of the degree of the risk. Similarly, discussion of preparedness not only has to discuss what is being done to reduce risks, but also what level of risks are acceptable in the first place.

Fukushima was an inside job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40559567)

Fukushima was an inside job.

Clues: what happened in Fukushima, also happened in Niigata earlier:

FULFORD VS. HAARP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InV0cVH6KZc

Benjamin Fulford reports from Tokyo on a mysterious plasma weapon seen prior to the Niigata earthquake in July, 2007 and red, white and blue lights seen prior to the recent earthquake in China. Both quakes targeted nuclear facilities...coincidence?

Then, just before the Fukushima incident, we see an increase in the magnetic activity caused by haarp (=ionospheric microwave heater) at 2.5 Hz measured by the magnetometer at Gakona. This increase is centered at 2.5 Hz, a frequency that can resonate tectonic plates:

http://www.humanresonance.org/quake_induction1.jpg

As we know from the Niigata incident, HAARP leaves clues such as mysterious plasma clouds visible in the sky (because of the warming effect).

And last, some months after the incident, NASA ( Never A Straight Answer ) creates some downplay BS story about ionospheric heating at Fukushima:

http://www.naturalnews.com/032670_Fukushima_HAARP.html

Recent data released by Dimitar Ouzounov and colleagues from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland highlights some strange atmospheric anomalies over Japan just days before the massive earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11. Seemingly inexplicable and rapid heating of the ionosphere directly above the epicenter reached a maximum only three days prior to the quake, according to satellite observations, suggesting that directed energy emitted from transmitters used in the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) may have been responsible for inducing the quake.

Nasa's downplay theory claims:

Published in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) publication Technology Review, the findings are presented alongside a different theory called Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling, which hypothesizes that the heating in the ionosphere may have been caused by the impending earthquake as the fault line released radioactive radon. This theory, of course, is not actually proven, but is instead presented as a possible explanation for the presence of the high-density electrons and emitted infrared radiation that was observed.

Why would they need to explain some theory about why the ionosphere was heated rapidly, if we already know that HAARP is the main known cause for that?

HAARP = ionospheric heater = an array of antennas which are used for heating the ionosphere

the blame game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40560173)

Is played at a different level in Japan. Even the most well thought out excuses are dicounted in favor of accountability. I wonder why this hasn't caught on in Europe or the US.
  Probably that falling on the sword thing.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...