By Mike Head:
21 March 2011
It is now clear that Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, delayed essential measures to tackle the emergency at the facility in order to protect TEPCO’s investments. There is also mounting evidence that joint government-TEPCO cover-ups have continued throughout the unfolding crisis.
More than a week after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country, the situation at the facility remains on a knife edge despite days of desperate fire-hosing, water-bombing and other activities that have exposed the plant workers and fire fighters to extreme radioactivity levels.
Nuclear experts warned that the restoration of power to some Fukushima units on Sunday and the reported placing of two other reactors into “cold shutdown” did not necessarily end the dangers. “Overall, the situation remains very serious,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said at a media conference yesterday.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the weekend that TEPCO had considered using sea water to cool one of the plant’s six reactors as early as the morning of March 12, the day after the quake struck, but delayed until that evening and did not use seawater at other reactors for another day. The company’s concern was to protect its long-term investment in the Fukushima complex, because seawater can corrode a nuclear reactor, rendering it permanently inoperable.
TEPCO “hesitated because it tried to protect its assets,” Akira Omoto, a former TEPCO executive and member of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, told the financial newspaper. A government official stated: “This disaster is 60 percent man-made. They failed in their initial response. It’s like TEPCO dropped and lost a 100 yen coin while trying to pick up a 10 yen coin.”
A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists documents in chilling detail 14 instances of “near-misses” at US nuclear power plants in 2010. Published in the midst of the Japanese nuclear emergency following the earthquake and tsunami, the report exposes the danger posed to the population and the planet by the for-profit US energy companies overseen in an often slipshod manner by US government regulators: here.
Sushi restaurants drop Japanese fish on radiation fears: here.
Nuclear crisis: How safe is Japan’s food and water? Here.
Officials: Tokyo Water Unsafe for Infants: here.
Anger is mounting among ordinary people in Japan over the Democratic Party government’s inadequate response to the earthquake and tsunami disaster, and particularly its failure to provide basic services to the nearly half a million people rendered homeless: here.
On Monday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) delivered a letter to energy firm Entergy stating that it may keep running its Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant through March, 21, 2032. The reactor in the aged plant, which is known to have released radiation into groundwater, is virtually identical to that of the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, whose flaws some scientists claim have contributed to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown: here.