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Japanese Parliament: Fukushima a Man-Made Disaster 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
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."
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Japanese Parliament: Fukushima a Man-Made Disaster

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  • correct. (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by swschrad (312009)

    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.

    • 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...

      • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:49PM (#40558215) Homepage Journal

        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.

        • by bakarocket (844390) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @06:03PM (#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.

          • by McFadden (809368) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @10:59PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by PopeRatzo (965947)

          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 su

        • 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. :-)

        • by khallow (566160)

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

          Based on what? My take is that if it really was, then things would have turned out a lot worse than they did.

          I think people forget that there was a number of plans for dealing with a meltdown from the initial design of the plant (which did survive a vast earthquake and some number of tsunami) through to the desperate means for cooling the core (such as using pumped sea water) even in the absence of on site power of any sort. And while these didn't work as well as we'd like, they did work.

          As others hav

      • by polar red (215081)

        dismissing the technological aspects and blaming it on human error

        the human factor is inherently linked into technology.

        • by symbolset (646467) *
          Then we should restrict ourselves to technologies with less severe consequences for error.
          • Re:correct. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mug funky (910186) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @10:35PM (#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.

          • In your opinion what is the threshold for acceptable consequences?
            • Re:correct. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by fritsd (924429) on Friday July 06, 2012 @04:53AM (#40561655) Journal
              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.
              • Nobody wants to insure nuclear power plants. That's an indicator from an unbiased source that they are a bad idea.

                And nobody wants to invest in them either.
                In an age where ROI is normally measured in years, if not quarters, nuke plants take decades to break even unless the taxpayer picks up at least part of the tab.

              • Nobody wants to insure nuclear power plants.

                Nobody? [rja.com]

                Insurance companies will insure anything, including nuclear power. Like you said they are in the business of assessing risk/reward factors. They don't really care about the type or scale of disaster and they will insure up to a certain amount and set rates and premiums accordingly. So in the Nuclear industry the insurance pool is about $12.6 billion. That's what they'll insure. They'd insure more if rates were higher. So it just becomes a matter of whether insurance makes nuclear economical

                • by fritsd (924429)
                  Agreed, I should have said it appears nuclear power industry is not cost-effective unless subsidized heavily by the government.

                  And in the 60's and 70's this was the case because those power plants also made plutonium for nukes, perceived necessary for the Cold War.
            • Waking Godzilla

              Rousing Mothara

              Deploying the Gundams

      • 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 huma

      • by mug funky (910186)

        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

  • And thats why (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:32PM (#40558101) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      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 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:44PM (#40558179) Homepage Journal

        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.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        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?

        • by khallow (566160)

          Silly, no?

          Observation bias, I'd say. In an era of whistleblowers, it is only now that we see most clearly (not that we couldn't have figured it out easily enough in the past) how things are done.

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

          You have to have two things for this to happen. First, a leadership that is interested and focused on said "amazing things". Second, a bureaucracy that is controlled effectively by the leadership. Lose either one and well, there goes the amazing things.

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

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

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        This argument has always fascinated me. Why is it so foreign, in US, that the government may own and operate a large public company with a legally enforced monopoly [wikipedia.org]? Why is it that "governmental action" seem to always be understood as "let's pay a private company to do our job"?
        • by khallow (566160)

          Why is it so foreign, in US, that the government may own and operate a large public company with a legally enforced monopoly?

          It's not foreign at all. We can just look at how things work and don't work for those countries that do implement such systems. My take is that US citizens would like to avoid the obvious conflict of interest from having government own a large public company.

          Why is it that "governmental action" seem to always be understood as "let's pay a private company to do our job"?

          Well, there is comparative advantage. Private companies do most things better than government does. And there's the absence of sovereign immunity. If a private company harms you, then you have access to the courts for the most part. Even in cases where

          • by Yvanhoe (564877)
            I don't see any obvious conflict of interest. Here (France) the government decided that nuclear energy generation was a too serious business to let private companies do it with, IMHO, good arguments, and they stepped in. Areva is a very successful and efficient company.

            The goal of the government is not to make money (well, it is not the primary goal) with it. The goal is to achieve energy independence, to control a strategic infrastructure, to finance research in nuclear processes and to prevent nuclear t
            • by Rich0 (548339)

              The conflict of interest is that you don't have an independent watchdog any longer - there is no regulation since the organization running the plant also makes the regulations and enforces them.

              The counterargument is that with regulatory capture you don't really have an independent watchdog over private industry either, but you do have a profit motive there which is lacking with government.

              Bad things really happen either way unless the public gets REALLY enraged (like burning stuff in the streets enraged).

              • by Yvanhoe (564877)
                In a modern democracy, the executive branch and the legislative branch are supposed to be separate. The regulations are not made by the people who enforces them. This is the basis of "how not to be a dictatoriship 101". It really is so twisted that you think that a profit motive is some kind of control...
                • by Rich0 (548339)

                  Well, profit motive IS a control - it tends to drive efficiency. The problem is without adequate oversight it also drives an efficient plundering of consumers.

                  I think the bottom line is that unless you give voters a fairly granular level of control and they show some interest in it, you're going to have problems either way.

    • by Korin43 (881732)

      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..

      • by geekoid (135745)

        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.

        • by mug funky (910186)

          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...

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by polar red (215081)

        indeed, the largest problem in nuclear power: humans, therefore: inherently unsafe.

      • 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.

        Because Washington-appointed bureaucrats dismissed the concerns of those engineers and scientists.

        Thiokol management initially supported its engineers' recommendation to postpone the launch, but NASA staff opposed a delay.
        During the conference call [project manager]Hardy told Thiokol "I am appalled. I am appalled by your recommendation."
        [project manager]Mulloy said "My God, Thiokol, when do you want me to launch — next April?"

        from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:And thats why (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @06:13PM (#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.

      • 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.

      • by Elledan (582730)

        [..] 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...

    • 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.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      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.

      • by ngg (193578)

        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?

    • No, I'm not talking about political parties. What I mean is, you need some group who are separate and independent from the people responsible for building and operating the reactors, mines, oil wells, etc, who are your regulators. The trick is keeping the regulators from becoming corrupt and losing their independence.

      What I mean is, it doesn't matter whether private companies or government, whoever is building and running dangerous facilities NEEDS someone else who is independent looking over their shoulder

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:33PM (#40558103)
    I think /. is turning Japanese, I really think so.
  • 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.
    • by Bootsy Collins (549938) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:41PM (#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.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      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.

      • by necro81 (917438)

        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

        This cannot be used as an excuse. Risk management and mitigation is not something done once during the design and construction of a facility. Rather, it is a continuous process that needs periodic review and updating in light of new information. There's plenty on record that TEPCO and government regulators d [slashdot.org]

  • Really, really bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:39PM (#40558141) Homepage

    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.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      " 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 co

      • 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: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I propose we put it in a pool next to the reactor.

    • by FirstOne (193462)

      "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??

    • 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.
      • by mug funky (910186)

        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.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          It was the UK government in the 60s that made the "too cheap to meter" claim. MAGNOX has been a bit of a disaster for us really. No commercial company would buy them when the government tried to sell them off, and we haven't actually figured out how to decommission them yet. Current estimates are that it will take about 100 years to do.

          Interestingly the only other countries to have used the designs are Japan, Italy and North Korea.

    • by khallow (566160)

      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

    • by ed1park (100777)

      Not true

      1. Align management goals with the public's. Remove the corporate barrier and make management and regulatory agencies personally liable (criminally/financially) for all negligence and damages. And prevent any kind of "insurance" to protect them. This should apply to all businesses "too big to fail". Throw in the death penalty and you will see things change quickly.

      2. "May have or not damaged" can be argued and our knowledge and technology improves. But what is certain is that this disaster

  • 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 s
    • by xs650 (741277)

      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        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
        • by mug funky (910186)

          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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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, g

      • by mug funky (910186)

        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.

    • 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 ar

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

    See how that works?

  • I'm surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @06:09PM (#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.

    • 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!

    • 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 ev

    • Re:I'm surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

      by siddesu (698447) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @09:39PM (#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.

    • by khallow (566160)
      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.
  • by jc42 (318812) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @07:29PM (#40558971) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by khallow (566160)

      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 fo

      • by MrKaos (858439)

        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.

        No, as jc42 pointed out, a second location had a problem with the Tsunami and was down to a single backup power supply. Had it not been for the efforts of a single man pushing TEPCO management to improve the seawall it would have been worse.

        However, in this case, inadequate preparation is the same as no preparation. The degree of consequence was the effect the tsunami had on the int

        • by khallow (566160)

          However, in this case, inadequate preparation is the same as no preparation. The degree of consequence was the effect the tsunami had on the integrity of the reactor. Inadequate preparation still resulted in a disaster at Fukushima and Onagawa demonstrated that it was survivable with better preparation.

          As we see from the outcome of the Fukushima accident, you are wrong here. "Disaster" is not a bit flag, but a matter of degree.

          Again, the basis design issues of this series of reactor was well documented by GE and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The desired outcome was obvious, to avoid a situation where the reactor could melt down and to avoid losing a billion dollar reactor installation.

          And when that can't be achieved, the reactor is designed to meltdown in a certain way so that it remains contained and can still be cooled by outside effort. That happened. Desired outcome too is not a bit flag that either is set or not.

          What is clear here is that they were doing what every board has been shown that it would do, even with regulatory guidelines, maximise profit. They took the risk and these are the consequences that have manifest. There was plenty of geological science available as opposed to using historical records. By saying that you just look like an apologist for the nuclear industry.

          You have to also consider when that geological and historical knowledge was found out and understood, and the time lag involved in the nuclear regul

          • by MrKaos (858439)

            However, in this case, inadequate preparation is the same as no preparation. The degree of consequence was the effect the tsunami had on the integrity of the reactor. Inadequate preparation still resulted in a disaster at Fukushima and Onagawa demonstrated that it was survivable with better preparation.

            As we see from the outcome of the Fukushima accident, you are wrong here. "Disaster" is not a bit flag, but a matter of degree.

            The degree of consequence. That is what I said. Agreeing with me doesn't mean I am wrong.

            Again, the basis design issues of this series of reactor was well documented by GE and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The desired outcome was obvious, to avoid a situation where the reactor could melt down and to avoid losing a billion dollar reactor installation.

            And when that can't be achieved, the reactor is designed to meltdown in a certain way so that it remains contained and can still be cooled by outside effort. That happened. Desired outcome too is not a bit flag that either is set or not.

            So what, it failed in the way the design specified it

  • It's not a independent investigation, but parlamental - which is reason I don't buy it, because politicians always want to look better in public eye. And current public attitude is fear of nuclear. So let's make it to look like human error, nevermind that it hasn't killed anyone directly, and it was once in a lifetime event.

    Mistakes, errors - that's all there. But I would pick a independent scientists and management specialists to vet out them, not politicians.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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