Official Fukushima Report Calls Accident ‘Profoundly Man-Made Disaster’

The government-tasked commission tackles regulators and officials, buts it also makes some unusual assumptions about the March 2011 disaster.

Japan_on_MapThe Japanese government’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded, in a 641-page report recently released, that the March 11, 2011 nuclear incident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant was a “profoundly man-made disaster.” The “enormous amount of radioactive material” that was emitted into the environment, the study found, was the result of human negligence, rather than a natural disaster or – in the parlance of theologians and insurance adjustors – an act of god. The Commission held 900 hours of hearings and interviewed 1,167 people, finding that the nuclear meltdown was avoidable. The Commission’s conclusions leave the jarring implication that regulators believe there is a category of nuclear disaster that might be unavoidable. Americans might be especially concerned, because the newly-minted former chairman – Gregory Jaczko – of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission suggested on July 6 that Fukushima did not violate any American safety standards.

The plant operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) claimed that its safety infrastructure survived the initial earthquake, succumbing only the subsequent tsunami. The Commission disagreed, finding that many crucial safety systems failed before the flood. Moreover, the Commission characterized TEPCO’s explanation as “an attempt to avoid responsibility by putting all the blame on the unexpected (the tsunami) … and not on the more foreseeable earthquake.”

In other words, because TEPCO was supposed to plan for an earthquake, it would be culpable for damage the earthquake caused; if, however, the destruction were attributed to the tsunami, a rarer event, TEPCO wouldn’t be found negligent. After all, the thinking goes, who can be held responsible for an unpredictable act of god?

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Source: Andy Horowitz | The Atlantic