Japan Panel Cites Failure in
Fukushima Power Plant
EMF Computer Protection
Magnetic Field Detector
By HIROKO TABUCHI
December 26, 2011
TOKYO — From
inspectors’ abandoning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
power plant as it succumbed to disaster to a delay in
disclosing radiation leaks, Japan’s
response to the nuclear accident caused by the March tsunami
fell tragically short, a government-appointed investigative
panel said on Monday.
The failures, which the panel said
worsened the extent of the disaster, were outlined in a
500-page interim report detailing Japan’s response to the
calamitous events that unfolded at the Fukushima plant after
the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out all of the
Three of the plant’s six reactors
overheated and their fuel melted down, and hydrogen
explosions blew the tops off three reactor buildings,
leading to a major leak of radiation at levels not seen
since Chernobyl in 1986.
The panel attacked the use of the
term “soteigai,” or “unforeseen,” that plant and government
officials used both to describe the unprecedented scale of
the disaster and to explain why they were unable to stop it.
Running a nuclear power plant inherently required officials
to foresee the unforeseen, said the panel’s chairman, Yotaro
Hatamura, a professor emeritus in engineering at the
University of Tokyo.
“There was a lot of talk of
soteigai, but that only bred perceptions among the public
that officials were shirking their responsibilities,” Mr.
According to the report, a final
version of which is due by mid-2012, the authorities grossly
underestimated the risks tsunamis posed to the plant. The
charges echoed previous criticism made by nuclear critics
and acknowledged by the operator of the plant, Tokyo
Tokyo Electric had assumed that no
wave would reach more than about 20 feet. The tsunami hit at
more than twice that height.
Officials of Japan’s nuclear
regulator present at the plant during the quake quickly left
the site, and when ordered to return by the government, they
proved of little help to workers racing to restore power and
find water to cool temperatures at the plant, the report
Also, the workers left at
Fukushima Daiichi had not been trained to handle multiple
failures, and lacked a clear manual to follow, the report
said. A communications breakdown meant that workers at the
plant had no clear sense of what was happening.
In particular, an erroneous
assumption that an emergency cooling system was working led
to hours of delay in finding alternative ways to draw
cooling water to the plant, the report said. All the while,
the system was not working, and the uranium fuel rods at the
cores were starting to melt.
And devastatingly, the government
failed to make use of data on the radioactive plumes
released from the plant to warn local towns and direct
evacuations, the report said. The failure allowed entire
communities to be exposed to harmful radiation, the report
“Authorities failed to think of
the disaster response from the perspective of victims,” Mr.
But the interim report seems to
leave ultimate responsibility for the disaster ambiguous.
Even if workers had realized that the emergency cooling
system was not working, they might not have been able to
prevent the meltdowns.
The panel limited itself to
suggesting that a quicker response might have mitigated the
core damage and lessened the release of radiation into the
“The aim of this panel is not to
demand responsibility,” Mr. Hatamura said. He also said the
panel’s findings should not affect debate on the safety of
Japan’s four dozen other nuclear reactors.