Thursday, July 05, 2012

Japanese Commission Highly Critical Of Fukushima Accident

Jul 5: Chairman Kiyoshi Kurokawa of The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) released the Commission's final report to Takahiro Yokomichi, the Japanese Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Kenji Hirata, President of the Japanese House of Councillors. The long-awaited report comes at the end of a six-month investigation into the nuclear accident of March 11, 2011.
    The Commission, the first of its kind in the history of Japan's constitutional government, received its mandate from the National Diet to investigate the causes of the accident, the causes of the subsequent damage and the effectiveness of the emergency response. The Commission was also charged with investigating Japan's nuclear policies and regulations and to offer recommendations to prevent a similar occurrence. The Commission held over 900 hours of hearings and interviews with over 1100 people. It was able to use the powers of the legislative body to obtain necessary documents and evidence. The Commission acted on behalf of the Japanese people -- independent from any elected member of either House of the Diet, from the restrictions of the government bureaucracy, and from the financial influence of the nuclear power lobby.
    A New York Times (NYT) article on the report summarizes saying, "The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion. . . The commission challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward to explain what went wrong in the early days of the crisis."
    The Commission's charge indicated in part that, "A global perspective should be emphasized, so that the results and conclusions will help to prevent nuclear accidents elsewhere. The investigation's priority should be on human safety, rather than the structural safety of nuclear reactors."
    The Commission concludes in part, "In order to prevent future disasters, fundamental reforms must take place. These reforms must cover both the structure of the electric power industry and the structure of the related government and regulatory agencies as well as the operation processes. They must cover both normal and emergency situations. A 'manmade' disaster - 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. . ."
    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), issued a release saying, "We know what happened in Japan could happen here in the United States. We are currently experiencing how susceptible the United States is to power outages, floods, and other natural disasters, and our nuclear power plants remain at the top of terrorist target lists. Yet, the majority of NRC Commissioners have consistently voted to reject most of the recommendations of the Near-Term Fukushima Task Force and implement nuclear safety upgrades in a way that acknowledges that they are necessary to ensure the adequate protection of America's nuclear power plants. I call on the Commission to stop the delays and fully implement the recommendations of the Fukushima taskforce to address the vulnerabilities to our nuclear fleet that were revealed by the Fukushima meltdowns."
    Rep. Markey indicated in his release that "Four of the Commissioners currently serving at the NRC regrettably have a history of voting against the safety recommendations put forward by technical experts, including its own advisory committees.  Some of these votes have occurred since the Fukushima meltdowns." He included a partial summary of the NRC votes.
    Access an announcement from the NAIIC (click here). Access links to the final report and executive summary (click here). Access the NAIIC website in English for more information (click here). Access the NYT article (click here). Access the release from Rep. Markey with links to related information (click here). [#Energy/Nuclear, #Haz/Nuclear]
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