Noilly Prattle: Fukushima mon amour - How we got Fuku-ed!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fukushima mon amour - How we got Fuku-ed!

Nuclear Crisis Man-made
Japan Times commission report cum expose

Fukushima No. 4

Since we've added Fukushima to the now unholy trinity (think Chernobyl and Three Mile Island), the crowning glories of a whole host of less spectacular “nuclear accidents”--oops, sorry about that!—an “independent” Diet (Japanese legislative body) commission has come to a startling conclusion: it wasn't a natural disaster after all, it was “man made”, the “regulatory system is corrupt, safety steps were rejected”. Oh, my God! Who would have thought?

In a remarkable mea culpa the chairman of the commission, an emeritus of Tokyo University said, and I quote: "What must be admitted — very painfully — is that this was a disaster 'Made in Japan,'". In a damning critique of Japanese society and culture he goes on to say, and I quote again: "Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to 'sticking with the program'; our groupism; and our insularity." 


Nero fiddled - Edano nibbled
the face of the govt. in the early days of the crisis
We've become more or less inured to hearing about small nuclear accidents at various nuclear power plants here in Japan that are merely a blip on the mainstream radar and quickly pooh-poohed, hushed up and swept under the carpet by the power companies with the collusion of the government. The nuclear carpet is so full of sweepings by now that there simply isn't enough room left to prevent the seepage of the glaring detritus of a major mess like Fukushima.

The quotes above are merely the tip of the iceberg in a Japan Times article published online today. It is a damning indictment of the recklessness and callousness with which the government and the nuclear industry scratch each other's backs for (fun, one wonders?) profits and jobs for dying rural towns with only a wink and a nod to the safety of the reactors—and, yes, the generation of electrical power.

The reactors and we are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea--literally in most cases in Japan. Many reactors, like Fukushima lie on the coast subject to typhoons, earthquakes and now famously tsunamis. Yet, the demand for energy trumps all other considerations it seems. The reactor at Oi is being restarted despite the fact that new regulations have not been finalized and Fukushima continues to emit radiation along with the instability of the No.4 structure, which, according to Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Co.): "... the pool at the No. 4 reactor, which was not operating at the time of the accident, holds 1,331 spent fuel assemblies, which each contain dozens of rods. Several thousand rods were removed from the core just three months before so the vessel could be inspected. Those rods, which were not fully used up, could more easily support chain reactions than the fully spent fuel." And which is in danger of  collapsing in another severe earthquake and releasing larger doses of radiation than Chernobyl.

It remains to be seen whether this latest report, too, will be swept under the carpet. If so, we are going to need a much bigger carpet.


Anonymous said...


Noilly Prattle said...


This report was rather anti-climatic. Anybody who isn't an ostrich pretty much knew or at least suspected all the dirt. Anyway, the govt. is gearing up to reopen other nuclear plants--and keeping the riot control teams at the ready...

BTW, don't y'all have a nuke plant in your town?