I remember when the Chernobyl nuclear accident happened, it was exploited to the hilt as anti-communist, anti-Soviet propaganda. Funny how the capitalist media can’t apply the same standard to Japan’s Fukushima, which had at least the same level accident. – Zuo Shou
By Jon Day
TOKYO, March 10 (Xinhua) — The biggest earthquake since records began rocked Japan’s northeast seaboard on March 11 last year, triggering a colossal tsunami to surge inland and causing carnage in coastal cites unseen in this nation since WWII.
Within an hour of the initial quake hit, torrents of more than 10 meters in height breached sea defenses and tossed cars, boat and trains around like toys, leveled buildings and washed away everything in its path.
As of Friday, the official death toll was 15,854, with more than 3,167 people still unaccounted for. But the unfolding catastrophe did not end with just the quake and tsunami.
As the sea floor off the Tohoku coast shifted violently and unleashed the force of a magnitude-9.0 quake, the fourth largest in the world since 1900, the resulting torrent of water breached the primary and secondary defenses of a coastal nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, located 240 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.
The vital cooling functions at the No.1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima were knocked out as the facilities’ basements housing key equipment quickly became inundated.
Just four hours after the tsunami hit the nuclear plant, the Japanese government feared the damage to the reactors was so severe that a full meltdown was possible and the then Prime Minister Naoto Kan was on the brink of issuing an emergency evacuation order for Tokyo.
“If temperatures in the reactor cores keep rising beyond eight hours, there is a possibility of meltdown,” a government official was quoted as saying during the first crisis meeting four hours after the earthquake struck.
However, the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) only conceded there had been a partial meltdown and that radioactive substances had been released into the air, land and sea in May, nearly two months after the crisis began.
As spent nuclear fuel pools continued to deteriorate and following a number of hydrogen explosions and fires at reactor buildings at the plant, it was only on March 16 that the nation’s premier first warned his cabinet that the unfolding crisis was possibly on a par with the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
“The amount of radiation that could be released from those reactors could be larger than Chernobyl. We must keep cooling the reactors, whatever it takes. It’s going to be a long battle,” Kan was quoted as saying in the crisis meeting minutes, released just recently.
On March 25, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission produced a paper stating that the likelihood existed that the crippled Fukushima plant was potentially heading towards a “worst case scenario” and in that event 30 million people from the greater Tokyo area would have to be immediately evacuated.
The commission’s evaluation was kept under wraps for fear of mass public panic, compounded by daily news reports, both domestic and international, of conflicting information regarding the severity of the crisis and levels of leaked radiation.
The report, however, surfaced publicly in January much to the chagrin of both the Japanese and the international community and trust in the Japanese government’s handling of the crisis plummeted further amid harsh international and local criticism.
A MYTH OF SAFETY
The nuclear disaster caused thousands of people to be displaced and rehoused in temporary shelters as the ineffective communication between the government’s nuclear agencies and the plant’s operator became publicly ridiculed, with discerning citizens deferring to international nuclear watchdogs like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for more trustworthy information.
Indeed, Kan unceremoniously stepped down at the end of August to take responsibility for his government’s slow response to the nuclear crisis and inability to communicate clearly and effectively with TEPCO and his domestic nuclear agencies.
Japan’s current prime minister Yoshihiko Noda admitted during a recent press conference that the Kan government monumentally failed to respond to and deal with the triple disasters of last March and lambasted Kan and his cabinet for being sluggish in passing on vital information and for being overly reliant on “a myth of safety” regarding nuclear power.
“We can no longer make the excuse that what was unpredictable and outside our imagination has happened,” Noda said. “Crisis management requires us to imagine what may be outside our imagination.”
LESSONS LEARNED [? …take the following with a grain of salt – ZS]
The prime minister went on to say that through the ineptitude of the former administration, a number of important lessons have been learned. That would ensure that were a similar disaster to happen, the nation’s nuclear plants, following a series of stringent safety and stress tests, would be better equipped to deal with failing cooling systems, with potential power outages not resulting in reactors melting down, as was the case with Fukushima.
While the likelihood is that the complete decommissioning of the stricken reactors at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant will take 30 years or more according to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, and public concerns about nuclear power have sparked intense debate on utilizing alternative energy sources. Noda stands charged to move forward practically and responsibly as he looks to bring the nation’s idled reactors back online.
“We can say in hindsight that the government, business and scholars had all been seeped in a myth of safety, but the responsibility must be shared,” the Japanese leader said.
Edited by Zuo Shou
See also: “‘Planetary Genocide’: Fukushima One Year Later : The Poisoning of Planet Earth” by Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri – http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29658