Commission report: Fukushima 'a profoundly man-made disaster'
In a damning 641-page report (the introduction to which is embedded below) produced by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), investigators reveal that the horrific and ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima was “a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”
Unlike other entities associated with the Japanese government, the NAIIC came to some quite damning conclusions, not the least of which is the accusation that the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, which continues to refuse to allow outside inspections of the reactor four building containing the dangerous spent fuel pool four, “betrayed the nation’s right to safety from nuclear accidents.”
The Fukushima NAIIC was formed by the statutory law enactment of Diet of Japan (the Japanese bicameral legislature made up of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors) on October 7, 2011, although the Chairman and Members were appointed in December of 2011.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Japanese peoples’ “right to safety from nuclear accidents” will likely never be respected seeing as they just restarted a reactor amidst massive public protest and that, statistically speaking, nuclear disasters may occur once every 10 to 20 years.
From a purely rational standpoint, it is impossible to recognize a “nation’s right to safety from nuclear accidents” without recognizing their right to be safe from nuclear power entirely, and the Japanese government seems unwilling to do that.
While recognizing the deadly combination of the tsunami and earthquake in March 2011, the investigatory committee concluded that the disaster was in large part actually man-made.
This is because, according to their findings, the conduct and practices which came both before and after the natural disaster aspect of the tragedy actually compounded the problem and “was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties.”
If the report ended there in pointing to collusion between the government and industry, I would be cheering on the authors of this report. However, they don’t stop there and actually say that had the “most basic safety requirements” been addressed, the disaster would never have been of this magnitude.
Some of these safety requirements, which, “The operator (TEPCO), the regulatory bodies (NISA and NSC) and the government body promoting the nuclear power industry (METI), all failed to correctly develop,” include, “assessing the probability of damage, preparing for containing collateral damage from such a disaster, and developing evacuation plans for the public in the case of a serious radiation release.”
All of this and more is included in a brief but incredibly important “Conclusions” section, which I highly encourage everyone to read. Some of the conclusions are generally surveyed in a BBC report, although I would exhort people to actually do the reading for themselves instead of having it fed to them, especially by the BBC.
The chairman of the commission, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, former head of the Tokyo University Department of Medicine, noted in the introduction:
It was a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.
This is no baseless claim, mind you. Their investigation included interviews with some 1,167 people and over 900 hours of hearings.
Unsurprisingly, most of the conclusions and facts dug up by the investigators are in completely contradiction to the version of reality spun by TEPCO and the Japanese government. It is no surprise that they had to actually pay people to disseminate their misinformation.
However, the report did note that in order to pass down a truly comprehensive assessment, the team would have to gain increased access to the inner workings of the various reactors, which is not likely anytime soon.
The investigators determined that the earthquake – which was “more foreseeable” than the tsunami – did a great deal more damage than TEPCO and the government would like us to believe.
This is of vital importance because the constant line we’ve heard is that this was never accounted for because no one would expect such a massive earthquake and tsunami to hit at once.
Indeed, the report notes:
Fukushima Prefecture’s emergency response system was also built on the assumption that a nuclear disaster would not occur at the same time as an earthquake and tsunami.
If the report’s findings are accurate, this means, “the very assumptions informing the building codes governing reactor construction in Japan are open to question,” as Homeland Security News Wire pointed out.
The report is far from flowery in its language, pointing out that TEPCO, the government and regulators all “betrayed the nation’s right to safety from nuclear accidents.” Furthermore, TEPCO, “manipulated its cozy relationship with regulators to take the teeth out of regulations,” according to the report.
The commission also found that the government – especially Prime Minister Naoto Kan – TEPCO and the nuclear regulators were bumbling, inept, ill-informed and incapable of sharing information properly.
“What must be admitted, very painfully, is that this was a disaster ‘Made in Japan,’” said Kurokawa.
“Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program;’ our groupism; and our insularity,” added chairman Kurokawa.
It’s incredible to see the quite hideously ugly truth finally emerging. This wasn’t pure accident. This was the product of cover-ups and corporatist relationships which should never exist in the first place.
Hopefully this will serve as the impetus for greater scrutiny and reform of the nuclear industry in every nation which still maintains these types of tight-knit and corrosive relationships with the industries they are supposed to keep in check in order to protect their people.
At least one politician in another country, in this case the United States, is stepping up to the task: Congressman Ed Markey. All we can do now is show our support, speak out, spread this information and hope this trend continues.
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