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Ex-U.S. nuclear regulator says Japan was slow on Fukushima leak

30 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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Could the issues dividing a private utility and the public good be any clearer? Of course no company wants to be in charge of a disaster. No company makes money off of a crisis of this proportion. Yet TEPCO was stunningly allowed to mismanage Fukushima for more than a year after the meltdown. Time and again they dragged their feet every time they had an opportunity to make things better. Why? Because what was in the public interest was never in TEPCO's interest. The simple fact that no one in government understood this very elementary issue -- and that no one had the stones to confront TEPCO regarding a public health and environmental emergency -- speaks volumes about an utter inability on the part of the government to DO THE RIGHT THING.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

"Japan was slow on Fukushima leak." Nah even with my fault grammar I can tell you used the wrong tense here!! It could be Japan has been slow or Japan is. This is not a past tense case!

12 ( +13 / -1 )

TEPCO is a disgusting company. Money and share prices first, the safety of the nation last.

The memo [in 2011] noted that the cost of the wall could go as high as 100 billion yen ($1 billion), saying the company was concerned about unclear government funding prospects.

Then, in 2013, as news emerged about TEPCO having discussed but NOT built the wall....

In a statement earlier this month, TEPCO cited technical complexity in designing the wall, as well as high radiation levels near the reactor area as reasons for not building the wall.

Duplicity, lies, cover ups, incompetence. Beyond criminal.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Criminal negligence.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Slow!

You can say that again!

Remind me again, who was running the country while this was happening?

Abe. But he had it all under control.

And in any case, he couldn't do anything about it. He was off selling Japanese nuclear technology to ME countries, bagging the Olympics, selling Japan down the river with TPP and other vital things.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Its taken him 2 and a half years to say that?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

actually in the US when your career is over and you are over a certain paygrade you go on the speech circuit. If you are a nuclear regulator you start in on the last disaster- the USA was not involved in the beginning of Fukashima,

and btw the plant there is much newer than anything in the US right now for civilian properties- so i imagine his expert knowledge is gleaned from the large past experience in the US (nothing for quite some time) and the reading of reports.

As for Tepco- each company has a failing in the US and in Japan- communication, that always causes issues. If communication was done correctly you would probably be looking at the progress in a much better light right now

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Ignorance is bliss. Far too an appropriate expression for this mess.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Leaders of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which was in power during the crisis, acknowledged last week that a plan to build an underground wall to surround the reactor and turbine buildings to block contaminated water leaks from the area was put off after plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. resisted the plan, citing financial reasons.

Yes, the DPJ was hopeless in dealing with this. Prime MInister Abe, though I'm not a big fan of his policies nor his statements about "control," has at least been able to pressure TEPCO into taking some action, and is offering governmental help with the financing.

Still, TEPCO itself is like a big blob of molasses, even though the blob is rolling slightly faster. They have accomplished some things, but one still gets the feeling that nobody has a clear picture what a successful cleanup will look like, nor a viable plan to get there. It's like they can only envision what things might look like in two or three weeks, but beyond that is a fuzzy blur. Right now, it involves cleaning up the water in the tanks with a machine that may or may not work, and is still in testing. I'm really concerned that they're going to start moving fuel rods around with that kind of lack of vision.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The problem lies in the complete inability of the Japanese government to take charge of a nuclear meltdown reality. This flawed paradigm comprised a safe and cheap way to produce power which yielded massive profits is still being defended. In short,as Abe has said,all is well! The illusion is the reality,for the politician there is no problem when massive amounts of radioactively contaminated cars, woodchips,cattle feed are exported or dumped in Shimane or Shiga,far from Fukushima.it just doesn't register nor does the mass media highlight the danger. The reality is that radioactivity is being relentlessly dispersed all over Japan but it isn't a problem.....

3 ( +5 / -2 )

actually in the US when your career is over and you are over a certain paygrade you go on the speech circuit. If you are a nuclear regulator you start in on the last disaster- the USA was not involved in the beginning of Fukashima,

I just saw on USA Jobs a job announcement of a GS13 level Nuclear regulator to work for the DOE in Tokyo. So I imagine that the USA is going to start putting more DOE people here to help assist and watch. The question remains though, will the Japanese government take heed to any suggetions this guy will give or will he just get the cold shoulder. I wonder if that type of stress is woth the effort of coming here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I wonder if that type of stress is woth the effort of coming here.

The sort that ends in six zeros, and I'm not talking in yennies here!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tepco can only handle one thing at a time, there is never an overall plan, just what needs to be fixed today.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Anyone else sick of hearing the " we wanted to avoid public confusion " statements that try to justify corrupt or sometimes downright criminal behaviour by Japanese private companies as well as government bodies? And nothing ever happens to punish anything or anyone here. Downright BS...

10 ( +10 / -0 )

If communication was done correctly you would probably be looking at the progress in a much better light right now

Communication, as in timely press releases, keeping the public abreast of developments, transparency, would be very welcome. However, we are talking about lies, deceit and cover-ups. That's not 'poor communication'. It's an entirely different thing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

GS 13 Stats for 2010 which is really old are starting about $71,000 for step one, moving to $93,000 for step ten. There might be additional years added to step 10 with no payment increase except for inflation, and the change in COLA due to Yen Dollar changes in rates. A nice housing allowance to the Tokyo area is nice, and there is probably a hardship allowance for being in a contaminated area. You are looking at about $180,000 top for the job.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

" Ex-U.S. nuclear regulator says Japan was slow on Fukushima leak ".

" Slow " is not the right word to describe how this situation had been allowed to fester and get worse. It has to do with Japanese pride and the fear of embarrassment for not having control in the first place, then ignoring it for some time because they were at a loss of what to do and then when things became too apparent and rapidly deteriorating, had no choice but to admit that a major calamity exists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just saw on USA Jobs a job announcement of a GS13 level Nuclear regulator to work for the DOE in Tokyo. So I imagine that the USA is going to start putting more DOE people here to help assist and watch

I believe so. Many nuke scientists who retired from the US Army Special task team here are heading to Japan for GS jobs.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Is that why he is ex-US nuclear regulator? Can't bad mouth america's allie?

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Judging from the past responses, I guess all that will happen is things will get worse. So the only question is how much worse will it get, and will larger areas have to be permanently evacuated? Now when do they start moving those fuel rods?

As I was raised on radiation from our numerous nuclear tests, above ground and under ground, with leaks, though out my childhood and teenage years here in the US and my exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, that I will not worry about a bit more. But then I say this from the State of New Mexico.

Still I am likely to see some affect. We are already catching tuna will elevated levels of radiation off the California Coast and expect kids born with a higher chance of Thyroid cancer. You in japan are a lot closer than I am.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I believe so. Many nuke scientists who retired from the US Army Special task team here are heading to Japan for GS jobs.

What people in Japan seem to forget and maybe they don't know, but there have always been nuclear trained engineers in Japan in Yokosuka. The Commander of Submarine Group 7 is an admiral who worked his way up as a nuclear qualified submariner. Additionally, since the GW has been assigned here, there is a SES from Naval Reactors assigned to Yokosuka, as well as the numerous nuclear engineers working in the shipyard that do maintenance on the GW.

My point is, the US has a sizeable presences of people in Japan who actually had an idea of what was going on, and could probably realize what TEPCO and the GOJ were telling people was probably not the true story. But, they are not authorized to really do anything about it, due to treaty limitations.

The GOJ has had ready access to outsiders to consult with but they chose not to do so. So this is entirely on them. I only hope that GS13 that gets here will not face the same obstacles as the man who tried to run Olympus had to face here in Japan.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Kan had everything under control, Abe is doing nothing for Fukushima, probably thinks it was a past governments issue.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

AlphaapeSep. 25, 2013 - 11:49AM JST

My point is, the US has a sizeable presences of people in Japan who actually had an idea of what was going on, and could probably realize what TEPCO and the GOJ were telling people was probably not the true story. But, they are not authorized to really do anything about it, due to treaty limitations.

I agree. It has been pretty frustrating that there has been a gap between what Japanese are told and what we are told. By the way, there are some nuke scientist who retired from the 4th Inf. Div. I think they know what's going on and they are trying to implement a new engineering technology (joint venture with Toshiba) to isolate the leak. Hope it works.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Most of us already knew this by the end of March 3, 2011, and pretty much ALL of us know the lax attitude from the gov't and TEPCO is not about to change, and this kind of thing will go on unabated.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@marcelito I've been heartily sick of the "to avoid public confusion" excuse for many, many years. It's trotted out for everything to which it can conceivably attached, remotely sensible or not. That it rarely gets more than mild derision from the public and the media is dumbfounding.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

TEPCO was nationalized?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ex-U.S. nuclear regulator says Japan was slow on Fukushima leak

I have been "hated" by many Japanese on JT as I have been telling our side of stories what we know on many issues since the 3/11. I have nothing to gain to do so. I just hope someday J. business, J. Government and J. Media are all willing to work together for transparency. The true victims are Japanese themselves, and I feel bad for them living in a smoking mirror society all their life. I notice some are very frustrated and are complaining on JT that is not a strategy for change.

There should be a social contract between two sides; J. business, government, media promoting transparency vs Japanese voters involvement for change.

I guess the blame goes back to all Japanese.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

But the “focus was lost” on the need to keep addressing the radioactive water problem, apparently delaying action on mitigating the problem, said Jaczko, who was in Japan at the invitation of an anti-nuclear citizen’s group. He resigned as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year.

LOL. Now he's the voice of the anti-nuclear group now? Let's refresh. This is the moron that concluded that spent rod fuel pool in No. 4 was "bone dry" and basically ordered the immediate evacuation within 50 mile radius of the plant. Just imagine the secondary disaster it would resulted if Japan acted the same.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@praack

and btw the plant there is much newer than anything in the US right now for civilian properties- so i imagine his expert knowledge is gleaned from the large past experience in the US (nothing for quite some time)

No, there are well over 40 commercial plants in the US newer than Fukushima. The last being Watts Bar 1 in 1996 (actually Watts Bar 2 is supposed to go on line this year, but who knows)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and btw the plant there is much newer than anything in the US right now for civilian properties- so i imagine his expert knowledge is gleaned from the large past experience in the US (nothing for quite some time) and the reading of reports.

In addition to jsa-aerial's comment above, when it comes to the experience of people talking about Fukushima, the age of the reactor is secondary to the age of the DESIGN of the reactor and tertiary to the fact that radiation doesn't care what reactor it's spewing from - the results of the irradiation will be the same whether the reactor was built in the 1950's or 2013.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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