Thursday, July 5, 2012

Japanese Parliamentary Investigation Concludes Fukushima Was a Manmade Disaster, Bloomberg Reports

A Japanese independent parliamentary investigation has asserted that “the Fukushima nuclear disaster was the result of a mix of ‘man-made’ factors including regulators who failed to provide adequate prevention and a government lacking commitment to protect the public.”
According to the panel’s chairman, Tokyo University professor emeritus Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Fukushima “cannot be regarded as a natural disaster.” Instead, “It was a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.”
The report, released today in Tokyo, cannot “rule out the earthquake on March 11 last year caused damage to Tokyo Electric Co. (9501)’s Dai-Ichi No. 1 reactor and safety equipment.” The dominant consensus until now has been that the reactors withstood the earthquake but succumbed to the tsunami.
The investigation lasted six-months. The first of its kind, it held public hearings with former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Tokyo Electric Power Co’s ex-president Masataka Shimizu. They gave conflicting accounts of disaster response at Fukushima.
In three investigations taken up by the government, the utility and a private foundation reported earlier that “they found no evidence of major damage to reactor buildings and equipment at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station from last year’s March 11 quake.” Their conclusion placed the source of the disaster as the 13-meter tsunami in the quake’s wake.  According to Bloomberg, “radiation fallout from the reactors…has left land in the area uninhabitable for decades.”
The independent commission is composed of 10 members. The group is made up of a seismologist and a former nuclear engineer.  Members of the commission have indicated that damage to the plant may be worse than so far reported.
The report is published one-week after international media reported that “RECORD amounts of radiation have been detected at the Fukushima nuclear reactor, further hampering clean-up operations.”

According to the UK Daily Telegraph, “Radiation levels above radioactive water in the basement reached up to 10,300 millisievert an hour, a dose that would kill humans within a short time after making them sick within minutes.”
The disaster at Fukushima is basically impossible to clean up at this point, as “the annual allowed dose for workers at the stricken site would be reached in only 20 seconds.”
TEPCO has said that they must use robots for the demolition, and that  ”demolition of the three reactors as well as the plant’s number 4 unit is expected to take 40 years and will need the use of new technologies.”
So, call it forty years for clean-up. And that’s if number 4 doesn’t collapse in the meantime and all of Japan doesn’t get evacuated.

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