Japan Govt. Absolves TEPCO, Blames Public For Oi Restart

Former Prime Minister Kan provided his testimony to the national Diet in Japan recently. In his comments he fended off criticism for his actions during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. He also clarified how the disaster turned him completely off of the idea of nuclear power.  “In his testimony, Mr Kan said Japan’s plant safety was inadequate because the energy policy had been hijacked by the ”nuclear village” – a term for the power companies and pro-nuclear regulators and researchers that worked closely together to promote the industry.

He said the prospect of losing Tokyo made him realize that nuclear power was just too risky, and the consequences of an accident were too large for Japan to accept. ”It is impossible to ensure safety sufficiently to prevent the risk of a national collapse,” Mr Kan said. ”Experiencing the accident convinced me that the best way to make nuclear plants safe is not to rely on them, but rather to get rid of them.”” This could have more to do with Kan’s forced resignation than his actions during the disaster.

Also testifying before the Diet was the former head of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu tried to defend himself against accusations that he intended to withdraw all workers from Fukushima Daiichi as the conditions at the plant turned even more dire. “The basic premise was that we will leave a number of people,” Shimizu told the panel. Asahi Shimbun’s investigative reporting found something even worse than the idea that they planned to abandon Fukushima Daiichi.

The newspaper also learned that Tetsuro Ito, deputy chief Cabinet secretary for crisis management and former chief of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department, was told directly by a TEPCO official at the prime minister’s office that the utility wanted to “abandon” the Fukushima No. 1 plant and “eventually withdraw” from the Fukushima No. 2 plant.”  Someone on the March 14th teleconference also asked about the possible evacuation of Daini. “Another person sought confirmation of evacuating to TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, which was also hit by the tsunami but had shut down properly.

The concept of abandoning Fukushima Daiichi and the world wide implication of that has been discussed in the media and exactly how catastrophic that would have been. It seems there was also consideration of abandoning Daini where the situation was mostly under control. The Diet has opted to believe TEPCO’s version of the evacuation of Fukushima Daiichi. Having two nuclear plants so close together is clearly an added risk in an accident. Where the Oi reactors reside in Fukui prefecture there are 13 reactors sited in 4 nuclear plants in close proximity to each other.

Reactor Restarts Blamed On The People.
How soon they forget, a little more than a year later the idea that Tokyo may have been evacuated is ignored as current PM Noda pushes to restart nuclear reactors at Oi. Even more concerning is that nothing has changed as far as nuclear safety in Japan since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster began. It has also come out that the Oi reactors are sitting over an active fault line. NISA has also confirmed that there is a risk of the sloping hills that surround the Oi nuclear plant could landslide in an earthquake. KEPCO says they might do something about the landslide risk in 2014.

The government issued a set of safety guidelines in April, these were written in a matter of days and don’t have any binding legal authority. The most critical equipment would not be installed for another 3 years. This includes building a seismic proof building to use as a command center and filter systems for the emergency vents. The seismic proof building was the only reason TEPCO was able to keep workers on site to battle the melting down reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. Even with that they considered abandoning the plant. Now imagine the same scenario with no safe building to retreat to.

The Noda government in one of many attempts to convince people restarting the reactors is safe, cited the off site command center near Oi as key component of the safety of the plant. Fukushima Daiichi had an identical facility sitting nearby. It was completely unusable and was abandoned. In the situation in Fukushima there was no power, the back up generators failed due to quake damage and it was unclear if communications systems worked. The center at Oi is touted as having the exact same set up. As if lightning won’t strike twice or things will be better next time. EX-SKF also points out that roads in the area are limited and could be easily blocked in a disaster, denying access to this off site facility. This facility is intended for communication, and is not set up as the seismic proof building currently being used inside Fukushima Daiichi is.

People in Japan are not believing Noda’s safety claims and are against the direction he is taking the country.

93% say the economy is bad
78% are unhappy with the direction the government is taking
80% are not satisfied with the government’s handling of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis
70% say the country should end the reliance on nuclear power

Noda has staked out a strange stance that it is the people’s own fault the reactors must be restarted. His comments range from strange to impossible.

Cheap and stable electricity is vital. If all the reactors that previously provided 30% of Japan’s electricity supply are halted, or kept idle, Japanese society cannot survive,”

“It is my decision that Ohi reactors No 3 and No 4 should be restarted to protect the people’s livelihoods,

“The Japanese society cannot survive if we stop all nuclear reactors or keep them halted.”

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda vowed Monday to take “ultimate responsibility” in deciding whether to restart two idled reactors “I’d like to fulfill my responsibility by taking all possible measures to ensure their safety.” 

We will vouch for the safety. The restart is necessary for the overall growth of the Japanese economy and society.” He added emphatically, “If we can obtain the understanding of the municipality where the plant is located, we will decide in the meeting of the ministers involved. I will be the one ultimately responsible for the decision.”

We have established systems that ensure (severe) accidents won’t occur,” Noda said. “We have appropriate countermeasures in place. Even if the reactors lose their entire electricity supply, their cores won’t suffer meltdowns.”

It is impossible to make such a statement, that severe accidents won’t occur or that reactors will not melt down if they lose their entire supply of electricity. Without some form of electricity there is no way to operate pumps, monitor equipment or operate vents. This is like declaring the Titanic to be unsinkable.


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