The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company had underestimated the risks a tsunami can cause to the nuclear installations in the country. The latest IAEA report validates WikiLeaks revelations that IAEA had warned Japanese authorities about the risk of a strong earthquake.
The IAEA team, which conducted a 10-day investigation of nuclear plants in Japan which were compromised in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, also recommended independent regulation of nuclear plants in Japan.
Making the damning comment about the security failure that triggered the worst atomic scare since the Chernobyl accident, the IAEA team said nuclear operators should periodically update methodologies used in assessing and evaluating the risk of nuclear plants, the Kyodo News agency reported.
The 18-member investigation team will submit the full report at an IAEA meeting later this month. The report, however, says Japan's response to the nuclear crisis was exemplary.
In the immediate aftermath of the nuclear crisis that erupted following a disastrous earthquake and tsunami in March, there were assessments by experts that Japan had failed to show due diligence in acting on IAEA warning on security shortcomings in the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Earlier, diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks showed that the international nuclear watchdog had alerted the Japanese authorities about two years ago that its nuclear power plants may not be able to survive strong earthquakes. According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, IAEA had said in 2008 that a strong earthquake would pose serious problems to Japan's nuclear power stations.
In the wake of the alarm, Japan set up an emergency response center at the Fukushima plant, but the fact that the plant was designed to withstand only a magnitude 7 quake remained unaddressed.
The earthquake in March, which had a magnitude 8.9 tremor, was the biggest to hit Japan. The country sits on the highly seismic activity-prone Pacific Ring of Fire.
A G-8 Nuclear Safety and Security Group in 2008 had also alerted the country over the safety of its nuclear power plants.
A leaked US embassy cable had an unnamed official saying that the guidance on how to protect nuclear power stations from earthquakes had only been updated three times in the past 35 years, according to the Telegraph.
Also, the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants, and that this is a serious problem that is now driving seismic safety work, the document leaked by WikiLeaks said.
Japanese experts had also said that various levels of safety were breached at the Fukushima nuclear plant. ... the mystery in Fukushima is not the first unreported problem with nuclear power, only the most recent, a former editor of the Japan Times Weekly said after the crisis broke out.
Back in 1996 amid a reactor accident in Ibaraki province, the government never admitted that radioactive fallout had drifted over the northeastern suburbs of Tokyo. Our reporters got confirmation from monitoring stations, but the press was under a blanket order not to run any alarming news, the facts be damned, Yoichi Shimatsu, who is currently working with the Fourth Media, wrote in a Global Research article.
According to another WikiLeaks leak, a Japanese parliamentarian had said in 2008 that the government was covering up accidents in nuclear plants.