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Japanese Parliament: Fukushima a Man-Made Disaster 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."
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Japanese Parliament: Fukushima a Man-Made Disaster

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

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @06:39PM (#40558141) Homepage Journal

    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:And thats why (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @06:44PM (#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 bakarocket ( 844390 ) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @07:03PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @07:37PM (#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.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @09:35PM (#40559321) Journal

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

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @10:39PM (#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 fritsd ( 924429 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:42AM (#40561611) Journal
    In other news, I read Oliver North [] has become a political commentator on Fox "News" (after failing to become a US Senator), so I believe you're spot on :-)

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson