Fukushima’s ‘man-made disaster’

August 17, 2011

From the July-August 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Fukushima’s ‘man-made disaster’

Editor’s note: Below are excerpts of a report sent to us from Narihiko Ito in Japan. Along with it, he sent an “Urgent Proposal” on assistance to the earthquake victims and reconstruction of the devastated area, issued by the Peace Constitution Committee of the 21st Century.

Tokyo–The March 11 magnitude 9 earthquake is the most severe ever measured by the Japan Meteorological Agency. It was closely followed by the massive tsunami that hit the coast of Sanriku and caused the great disaster. The large numbers of dead and missing are thought to have been mainly caused by the tsunami.

The earthquake and tsunami already caused one of the worst disasters ever. That was made worse by the accidents of the reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (NPS) of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)….

Fukushima reactor after explosion
Fukushima Daiichi reactor unit 2 after the explosion

The March 17 issue of the German weekly Die Zeit published a special article on the accident headlined, “No more lies shall ever be permitted.” It began:

“They say as follows: ‘Our NPS are safe. We control the natural disaster by our technology. Safety shall precede economic benefit. Decommissioning NPS is not recommended. Extension of life of operation is recommended.’ The accidents in Fukushima and the consequent suffering of the Japanese people thrust a question mark to all these claims and ask the people in the world to have a new point of view.”

…Even a magnitude 8 earthquake was never predicted in designing and construction of Fukushima Daiichi NPS….To begin with, they had no idea of safety standards. The April 10 Mainichi Newspaper explains what really happened right after the earthquake:

“On April 9, TEPCO submitted the report of the results of its investigation of the damage by the tsunami, which followed the great earthquake, on the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini NPS. In the Daiichi NPS, the main buildings such as the reactor building were all flooded 4-5 meters deep. The first tsunami hit Daiichi NPS at 3:27 PM on March 11, 41 minutes after the quake. The second tsunami came around 3:35 PM, eight minutes after the first tsunami. TEPCO said that before the March 11 earthquake, the design and construction allowed for a 5-7 meters height tsunami, but the tsunami was much higher in the March 11 earthquake, around 14-15 meters. Units 1-4 of the NPS are located on the ground 10 meters above sea level. Therefore, most of the area was flooded 4-5 meters deep. The tsunami reached the second floor of the reactor building, and the sea water intake pump and other equipment were damaged.”

Has TEPCO made a mistake in not anticipating an earthquake and massive tsunami as powerful as what hit Tohoku? According to the March 27 issue of Mainichi Newspaper, the council of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry pointed out in June 2009, based on analysis of the Jogan Earthquake 1,100 years ago, that an earthquake as great would hit Japan again. The council report does not include the Jogan Earthquake….In the later conferences, TEPCO said that the estimated quake in the Jogan Earthquake is within specifications of the quake-resistant structure of the NPS….

So the accident occurred, not because it was “an exceptional event that could not have been readily predicted,” but because TEPCO did not take the correct prediction into consideration. It’s absolutely clear the accident was a “man-made disaster” that was predestined to occur. Also, we know well what made TEPCO consciously ignore the “prediction” of danger, as the column of the April 6 issue of Asahi Newspaper headlined: “Major construction work requires a lot of money.”

Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, which is supposed to maintain the safety of NPS, set installation guidelines that indicate “it is not necessary to take into consideration a long period power failure.” With Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, the watchdog for nuclear power safety, behaving so poorly, no explanation seems adequate but that Japanese nuclear policy is completely corrupt….

–Narihiko Ito

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