Fukushima Daiichi Sends Japan Govt. Into Tailspin

Bad-MeetingNobody knows what is going on. TEPCO has announced they are forming yet another task force, this one to deal with their failures to control water at the plant. METI has declared they are taking over the water issues at Daiichi. The political opposition DPJ is launching their own investigation into the water problems at the disaster site. Meanwhile PM Abe is off trying to sell nuclear power on the other side of the world.

TEPCO’s current president will oversee “8 teams” at their Tokyo office and 4 teams at the plant tasked with dealing with the water problems. TEPCO says it will invite experts to the task force but does not explain how. The task force will also pull people across divisions within the corporate structure at TEPCO but it was unclear what divisions or expertise this would potentially bring together. So far TEPCO’s commitment to fixing their newest failure is to add water gauges to the tanks, eventually replace the current tanks and promise not to leave the leak dams wide open.

METI, the government agency in charge of promoting nuclear power ended up still in charge of the decommissioning of the disaster site even though the nuclear regulator NRA was moved out of their control. METI made big proclamations today.
“We’ve allowed Tokyo Electric to deal with the contaminated water situation on its own and they’ve essentially turned it into a game of ‘Whack-a-Mole,’” Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters today at Fukushima. “From now on, the government will move to the forefront.”

The Prime Minister’s office told Bloomberg that METI “is working to draw up, by some time in September, both emergency measures and more fundamental steps to eliminate the roots of the contaminated water problem, as well as measures to be carried out going forward,”

At an earlier meeting with environmental groups government representatives could not tell the public who was in charge or what the management structure was related to the disaster. This was August 12th, by August 26th the same agency is declaring themselves in charge of the response.

METI now says they are taking over the handling of the leaking tanks, the ice wall and installing more ground solidifying chemicals. They apparently failed to tell TEPCO this.

METI is also now considering obtaining reserve funds to use to speed up the implementation of the frozen wall around the reactors rather than waiting for the next year’s budget. They also said clearly they are taking over.

Motegi told reporters that so far the government has let the operator deal with the situation each time a problem has come up. But he said that from now on, the government will take full charge.”

While METI tries to put the fault on TEPCO for not doing the right things, it was METI and the government that has allowed them to deal with it alone while completely ignoring the disaster until it became impossible to ignore.

Now the political opposition wants to get involved. The DPJ was in charge when the disaster hit and in the months after under Prime Minister Noda. Now they want to have a formal debate in the national Diet about the water leaks at the plant and are sending a representative to inspect the plant. Public discussion of the problems at the plant and hopefully testimony from experts may shed some light about what is going on. This still may be nothing more than political stunt.

So where is the leader of Japan while everyone scrambles to figure out what to do with the urgent problems at the disaster site? He is off selling nuclear power to other countries. PM Abe left Saturday on a 6 day trip to try to sell nuclear power to middle east and African countries. The current disaster that is causing the government to scramble was declared as not having any impact on Abe’s efforts to sell nuclear power. Fukushima may yet be Abe’s final pork cutlet curry.

Photo credit: timemanagementninja.com


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