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Nuclear Disaster in Japan Was Avoidable

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

Japan 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Martin Fackler writes that Japan’s nuclear regulators say that the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 45-foot tsunami that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were far larger than anything that scientists had predicted, but some insiders from Japan’s tightly knit nuclear industry have stepped forward to say that Tepco and regulators had for years ignored warnings of the possibility of a larger-than-expected tsunami in northeastern Japan, and thus failed to take adequate countermeasures, such as raising wave walls or placing backup generators on higher ground. “March 11 exposed the true nature of Japan’s postwar system, that it is led by bureaucrats who stand on the side of industry, not the people,” says Shigeaki Koga, a former director of industrial policy at the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry. Eight years ago, as a member of an influential cabinet office committee on offshore earthquakes in northeastern Japan, Kunihiko Shimazaki, professor emeritus of seismology at the University of Tokyo, warned that Fukushima’s coast was vulnerable to tsunamis more than twice as tall as the forecasts of up to 17 feet put forth by regulators and Tepco but government bureaucrats running the committee moved quickly to exclude his views from debate as too speculative and “pending further research.” Then in 2008, Tepco's own engineers made three separate sets of calculations that showed that Fukushima Daiichi could be hit by tsunamis as high as 50 feet. “They completely ignored me in order to save Tepco money," says Shimazaki."

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