A new independent report on the cause of the Fukushima Nuclear disaster places most of the blame on collusion between the Japanese government and TEPCO for allowing the plant to be so vulnerable. The report reveals several chronic issues, although the most startling revelation is that the plant was critically damaged by the earthquake as well as the resulting tsunami. The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission’s findings directly contradict reports by the government and TEPCO, and the discrepancy reveals a frightening level of complacency and corruption which may indicate that Fukushima’s meltdown was fully preventable and other plants may be at risk from earthquakes.

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Elucidating the complex background of infighting, half-measures and the slow release of information to the public the over the year since the accident, the 641 page report provides a frank and compelling narrative of how the disaster was easily preventable if the government and TEPCO followed basic safety recommendations. Rather than shore up emergency power systems TEPCO successfully fought any regulations that would cost them money or leave doubt in the public mind about the current state of safety at their plants. The report also blames the government for colluding with the massive energy company by allowing internal complacency to override regulations on the books.

Perhaps the scariest aspect of the report is the indication that the plant’s reactor 1 was damaged by the earthquake and lost capacity to cool the core before the tsunami struck. This would indicate that the plant was ill prepared for earthquakes, which raises issues with many similar plants throughout the nation.

To add to the confusion, the report indicated poor communication and leadership just after the accident with the President’s arrival on the scene distracting responders. Many living in the region were not notified of the serious nature of the accident for up to 12 hours after, compounding the already poor response by the government. The report also squarely cites the Japanese cultural tendency to criticize alternative views, suppress dissent, and maintain “reflexive obedience”. The findings are aimed at generating real soul-searching in the technically sophisticated culture that relied too much on assurances and complacency than true oversight – a lesson all nuclear-powered nations can learn from.

Via New York Times