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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

PM's micro-management slowed Fukushima response!

According to a panel investigating Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, ex-prime minister Kan Naoto (surname first) and his aides helped cause confusion during the pinnacle of the crisis with heavy interfering in the operation of the damaged plant.

Nomura Shuya (surname first), a member of the parliamentary panel, says that at Kan's behest, Kan’s aides made numerous calls to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant during the crisis, often asking basic questions and distracting workers, that they ended up adding to the already confusing situation.

The panels claims that the aides did not follow protocol - the official line of communication - which includes going through the regulator, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, as laid out by Japan's nuclear disaster management law.

Says Nomura: “They asked questions that were often inappropriate and very basic, unnecessarily causing more work in addition to the operation at the site."

During the crisis, Kan and his ministers said that the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), provided little information to them, forcing them to go out of the way and ask the questions.

Of course, TEPCO personnel may have been a tad busy trying not to have the whole countryside go nuclear by preventing the reactors from exploding.

Ed. Note: While the government does need to know what is going on, it was wrong in the way it tried to get information. Follow the protocols. 

The panel, which has power to issue subpoenas, also revealed Saturday that TEPCO considered evacuating all 700 or so workers leaving a skeleton crew of 10 workers, but Kan ordered them to keep to all stay and keep working.

The Dai-ichi nuclear power generating reactors had three near meltdowns after a devastating March 11, 2012 9.0 Magnitude earthquake struck causing a massive tsunami that slammed into the facility. When power was cut off from the facility's coolant system, trouble continued at the plants for weeks, with the TEPCO workers preventing a total disaster, rather than the terrible disaster that still occurred.

While most of the plant's workers did leave, about 70 workers did eventually bring the plant under control.

The panel also criticized Kan and his government for not releasing radiation data and other critical information, thereby causing unnecessary exposures and creating widespread distrust of the
government.

The full report from the panel will be released later this month.

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

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