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Japan’s corrupt ‘nuclear village’ still ruling policy?

The Fukushima plant looks to be a bottomless pit, with the tab set to grow as decontamination and decommissioning will take decades. And, how much will it cost to deal with all the radioactive waste accumulated at Japan’s 50 other reactors and where will that be stored?

Is it safe? Ruling party pushes nuclear village agenda BY JEFF KINGSTON  JAPAN TIMES, 26 May 13,  “……This April, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) began assessing whether the two Oi reactors meet new safety standards slated to go into effect in July. There are three active fault lines near the Oi plant on the Sea of Japan coast, but it will not have a remote command center ready until 2015 and its raised sea wall will not be completed until March 2014. The new safety guidelines also require that utilities equip reactors with filtered venting systems to reduce radioactive releases in the event of an emergency, but they are granted a five-year grace period before these must be in place.

Consequently, the reactors are now operating based on the hope that these countermeasures will prove unnecessary; Fukushima demonstrates the folly of wishing risk away. The findings of three major investigations into the Fukushima accident were released in 2012, detailing the absence of a culture of safety in the nuclear industry in Japan and cozy, collusive relations between regulators and the utilities that compromised safety……
In fact, tsunami risks should have come as no surprise to Tepco, as the Tohoku coastline has been battered by major ones in 1611, 1677, 1793, 1896 and 1933. Indeed, there are tsunami stones dotting the Tohoku coastline warning future generations to heed the perils. Tepco’s own researchers warned about the tsunami risk in Fukushima, and clearly the one triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, was no black swan, once in a 1,000-year event. But the utilities and the government ignored the risks and sited reactors in tsunami-risk zones.

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The Diet investigation concludes that what’s termed “regulatory capture” — regulators regulating in favor of the regulated — was at the heart of the nuclear accident, and it blasts the absence of a culture of safety. Moreover, it outlines an institutionalized culture of collusion, complacency and deceit involving regulators and utilities that explains why Fukushima in particular, and the nuclear industry in general, settled for inadequate safeguards……..

Proponents of nuclear power have long argued that it is safe, cheap and reliable. The 150,000 residents who remain displaced from the vicinity of Tepco’s Fukushima plant, along with local farmers and fishermen, must wonder about that claim. So too should all Japan’s taxpayers, as the nationalization of Tepco in July 2012 means we now own its vast liabilities.

One year ago the Wall Street Journal estimated that taxpayers were already $45 billion in the hole, and at the end of 2012 the utility requested a further ¥697 billion (ca $8.2 billion) from the government to cover rising compensation payments.

The Fukushima plant looks to be a bottomless pit, with the tab set to grow as decontamination and decommissioning will take decades. And, how much will it cost to deal with all the radioactive waste accumulated at Japan’s 50 other reactors and where will that be stored? http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/05/26/commentary/is-it-safe-ruling-party-pushes-nuclear-village-agenda/#.UaPpE9JwpLs

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May 27, 2013 - Posted by | Japan, politics

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