Nuclear crisis man-made: Diet panel

And yet it’s ordinary residents who are seeing their electric bills go up. All the TEPCO executives should be forced out without their high pensions, and the shareholders’ equity used up. Nationalization wouldn’t be a bad idea either, since everybody’s paying for the mess TEPCO caused anyway.

From the Japan Times:

The crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was man-made and not a natural disaster, fundamentally the result of a long-corrupt regulatory system that allowed Tokyo Electric Power Co. to put off critical safety measures, an independent Diet commission investigating the catastrophe concluded Thursday.

“What must be admitted — very painfully — is that this was a disaster ‘Made in Japan,’ ” says an accompanying statement by the panel chairman, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo. “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.”

The report says the Fukushima disaster “was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco, and the lack of governance by said parties . . . we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made.’ “

“We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual,” the report said.

According to the panel, which submitted the report to the Diet after about six months of investigations that included questioning 1,176 people for a total of more than 900 hours, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and Tepco were aware of the need to improve safety at Fukushima No. 1 before the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, but Tepco was reluctant to do so and NISA didn’t press for the necessary improvements.

For instance, the government in 2006 revised the standards for earthquake resistance and requested that utilities evaluate their plants. Although it was found that Tepco needed to implement antiseismic reinforcement measures to meet the new standards, the utility kept putting it off and NISA let it slide, the report says.

“From Tepco’s perspective, new regulations would have interfered with plant operations and weakened their stance in potential lawsuits. That was enough motivation for Tepco to aggressively oppose new safety regulations,” it says.

NISA failed to go after Tepco about undertaking the necessary reinforcement because it lacked nuclear power expertise compared with the utility, in addition to the fact that NISA is part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which promotes the use of nuclear power, it says.


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