Inquiry blames Japan n-plant operator for disaster

December 27th, 2011 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Dec 27 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A commission investigating the causes of the Fukushima nuclear disaster has criticised the nuclear power plant’s operator as well as the Japanese nuclear safety agency for being unprepared for such a scenario.

“It cannot be denied that people who have been involved in nuclear disaster response and those in charge of managing and operating nuclear power plants have lacked the whole-picture viewpoint in nuclear disaster preparedness,” Kyodo news agency quoted the report as saying.

A powerful earthquake and tsunami wrecked the plant’s cooling systems March 11, causing meltdown at three of its reactors. Radiation leaked into the atmosphere, soil and seawater, causing the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

An expert panel, headed by University of Tokyo professor emeritus Yotaro Hatamura, said in a 507-page report that a lack of internal communication and information gathering contributed for the workers’ failure to contain the nuclear crisis in its initial stages, The Japan Times reported.

The government did not take advantage of a system to predict nuclear fallout distribution, and ordered evacuation within the 20-km zone which resulted in people leaving polluted areas only to find themselves in areas with even higher radioactive contamination.

The report criticised the government for issuing a vague evacuation order that “sounded almost the same as telling residents to ‘just run’”, the paper said.

The plant’s staff also assumed that cooling systems in units one and three, knocked out by the tsunami, were working when in fact they were out of order and reactors were overheating.

The report was compiled by interviewing 456 people. Its final version is expected by mid-2012.

The Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission has estimated the financial loss from the disaster at $74 billion. The dismantling of four reactor tanks will cost at least $15 billion, and $52 billion will be spent on compensation, clean-up of radioactive soil and other measures.

–IANS/RIA Novosti
pm/dg

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