Japanese panel: Fukushima a 'man-made' disaster (+video)
The panel's report on the Fukushima nuclear disaster could fuel complaints that Japan is restarting nuclear reactors before key reforms are in place.
A parliament-appointed panel has accused Japan's government, regulators, and a nuclear operator of creating a "man-made" disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck the country's northeast coast last year. The disaster triggered a national rethink on the use of nuclear power.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Nuclear Japan: from meltdown to shutdown
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The 641-page report urged parliament to closely monitor a new nuclear watchdog slated to be launched in a few months. It also called for the government to be more transparent about its relationship with the nuclear industry, and to tighten legislation "to meet global standards of safety, public health, and welfare."
The panel's blistering attack on every agency involved in the crisis could hamper plans by the government to restart more nuclear reactors in a bid to prevent summer power shortages.
"The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco [plant operator Tokyo Electric Power], and the lack of governance by said parties," the panel said in a scathing report released on Thursday. "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 organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual."
The panel said official reluctance to meet standards had raised the severity of the accident, which sent large quantities of radiation into the ocean and atmosphere, and forced the evacuation of 150,000 people.
"Across the board, the Commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organization that deals with nuclear power. We found a disregard for global trends and a disregard for public safety," the panel said.
"As a result of inadequate oversight, the SA (Severe Accident) countermeasures implemented in Japan were practically ineffective compared to the countermeasures in place abroad, and actions were significantly delayed as a result."
Chain of command problems
All of the country's 50 functioning nuclear reactors were switched off in the wake of the crisis to undergo safety checks. Japan, which once depended on nuclear for about a third of its energy supply, was briefly without atomic power for the first time in more than 40 years after the last reactor went offline in early May.