- The operator of the power plant, Japanese government and regulators are all criticised in report by parliamentary panel
- ‘They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents’ says report
- The findings call for further investigation into the impact of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on the reactors at Fukushima
The nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan last year was a ‘man-made disaster’ and not completely caused by the devastating tsunami, a new report has said.
The Japanese parliamentary panel today submitted its final report on the catastrophe. The probe is the third of its kind in Japan since the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a generation.
In a damning report, the Diet’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission said:
‘The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties.’
‘They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made’.
‘We believe that the root causes were the organisational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual.’
The nuclear disaster followed a 9.0 magnitute earthquake off the coast of Japan in March last year – the most powerful ever known to hit the country.
It led to a massive tsunami which devastated many towns and villages and led to almost 20,000 deaths.
An earlier report by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) had all but cleared the huge utility, saying the size of the earthquake and tsunami was beyond all expectations and could not reasonably have been foreseen.
But an independent group of scholars and journalists, who reported their findings in February, said TEPCO could and should have done more.
It also said that had the company had its way, its staff would have been evacuated from the crippled plant and the catastrophe could have spiralled even further out of control.
The findings published on Thursday call for further investigation into the impact of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake – as opposed to the towering tsunami – on the reactors at Fukushima.
‘As for direct cause of the accident, the commission reached the conclusion that we cannot definitely say any devices that were important for safety were not damaged by the earthquake,’ it said.
‘We cannot rule out the possibility that a small-scale LOCA (loss-of-coolant accident) occurred at the reactor No. 1 in particular.’
Although many scientists and activists have questioned the dominant narrative that cooling systems were knocked out by the rising waters, the government and TEPCO have been unwilling to say the reactors could have been damaged by the initial earthquake.
Tectonically-volatile Japan has a network of nuclear reactors that, until Fukushima, had supplied around a third of the nation’s electricity.
HOW HUGE EARTHQUAKE LED TO THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER
March 11 – A 9.0 magnitude earthquake hits Japan leading to a massive tsunami
March 12 – Explosion and radiation leak confirmed in reactor 1 at Fukushima
March 14 – Blast destroys concrete building in reactor 3
March 15 – Explosion reported in reactor 2 and fuel rods exposed for a while
March 20 – Government says plant will be decommissioned once crisis is over
March 23 – The Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary also advises that high levels of radioactivity have been found in Tokyo’s drinking water
April 2 – It is discovered for the first time that contaminated water is flowing into the sea
April 3 – The first deaths at the plant are confirmed – two workers missing since March 11 are found dead
April 22 – Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan states additional towns might be asked to evacuate
May 5 – Workers enter the reactor 1 building. This is the first time since the start of the crisis that a reactor building in the plant is visited by a human being
June 3 – The first case is confirmed where radiation levels in humans have exceeded safe limits since the accident at the plant
October 31 – A French study revealed that the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused the biggest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history
December 15 – A long-range timetable is announced for the decommissioning of the Fukushima reactors. The decommissioning work will be completed by 2052
April 5 – Highly radioactive wastewater is accidentally discharged into the sea
July 5 – The nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan last year was a ‘man-made disaster’ and not completely because of the tsunami, a new report claims
Wrecked: Smoke is seen coming from the area of the No. 3 reactor of the power plant.
The nuclear industry has long boasted of its many safeguards against earthquakes, but much recent public opposition to atomic power has focused on plants’ vulnerability, especially those that sit near seismic faults.
In May this year it was revealed that fuel bills in Britain will rise this winter because of the devastating earthquake in Japan.
Supplies of liquefied natural gas are being diverted east after the tsunami shut its nuclear power reactors.
It could push the wholesale price of gas up by as much as 28 per cent, energy market analysts claimed.
In March, it emerged one of the crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and much less water to cool it than officials had thought.
The news renewed doubts about the plant’s stability and provoked fears the other two reactors that had meltdowns could be in even worse shape.
In December last year a long-range timetable was announced for the decommissioning of the Fukushima reactors. The work will be completed by 2052.