Worth a read, if only for what must be one of the most felicitous and evocative phrases to describe the efforts to deal with the Fukushima nuclear crisis: “desperate attempts with fire hoses and buckets”. An exaggeration, but only a slight one. I have a few gripes: although it contains footnotes, it glosses over some points that I want to see evidence for, but on the whole it is a sober, and sobering, read. Click the link to read the whole thing. The article lists a number of equally high-quality articles in the footnotes (I especially recommend Japan’s Crisis: Context and Outlook by Vaclav Smil in “The American” – it includes background information that Gavan McCormack’s piece assumes the reader already knows).

For the country whose scientific and engineering skills are the envy of the world to have been guilty of the disastrous miscalculations and malpractices that have marked the past half-century – including data falsification and fabrication, the duping of safety inspectors, the belittling of risk and the failure to report criticality incidents and emergency shut-downs – and then to have been reduced to desperate attempts with fire hoses and buckets to prevent a catastrophic melt-down in 2011, raises large questions not just for Japan but for humanity.

via JapanFocus.

In related news, a veiled hint that the government recognises that all was not well with TEPCO’s management (and perhaps also a veiled suggestion of, dare I say, government responsibility) appears in this article:

METI hit for ‘amakudari’ habits that put retirees in Tepco
By NATSUKO FUKUE
Staff writer
The government urged former officials of the industry ministry Monday to refrain from taking positions at power utilities after retirement.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a regular news conference that former top officials of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, including those in the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, are required to refrain from landing jobs at power companies after retirement.

via Japan Times: METI hit for ‘amakudari’ habits that put retirees in Tepco