The stuff is starting to come out of the woodwork about the supervision of the safety of Japan’s nuclear power plants. To borrow a Japanese diplomatic understatement, it is “unfortunate” (残念zan-nen) that it took a 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami and the 20-years-to-clean-up Fukushima nuclear disaster to flush this kind of information out.
I was not happy about the government’s heavy-handed and unilateral decision to shut down the Hamaoka plant – where’s the electrical energy going to come from, then? – but after reading the following, I’m now in favour, tho I don’t like that it is the government which has this kind of power. The lawsuits should have won. There should have been a public debate. Instead, it was swept under the carpet by “Japanese officials”.
The problem is not so much the nuclear technology or engineering itself. It’s the integrity and honesty (or lack thereof) of key figures involved. There is no substitute for character and good judgement. No amount of hi-tech can make up for this lack.
Over the last few weeks, a picture has started to emerge of the peculiarly Japanese style of elitism and arrogance. I’ll write about this later, but Japan’s elite schools seem to be good at producing people who seem to think they are gods, above the law, untouchable by human frailty. I recall an American who had been in President Kennedy’s administration commenting on later generations of administration: he said that no-one should be in a position of high office who has not faced a major defeat or downfall at some time in his life. I can’t recall where I read this. Damn! It’s going to bug me, now, until I find it!
The article below came from the NY Times. I sincerely hope this information is being written up and publicized in the Japanese media.
If such a quake struck, electrical power could fail, along with backup generators, crippling the cooling system, the lawyers predicted. The reactors would then suffer a meltdown and start spewing radiation into the air and sea. Tens of thousands in the area would be forced to flee.Although the predictions sound eerily like the sequence of events at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the lawsuit was filed nearly a decade ago to shut down another plant, long considered the most dangerous in Japan — the Hamaoka station.
The lawsuits reveal a disturbing pattern in which operators underestimated or hid seismic dangers to avoid costly upgrades and keep operating. And the fact that virtually all these suits were unsuccessful reinforces the widespread belief in Japan that a culture of collusion supporting nuclear power, including the government, nuclear regulators and plant operators, extends to the courts as well.
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