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July 06, 2012

Fukushima disaster 'man-made'


The Fukushima disaster should have been foreseen and could have been prevented. (UPI/Keizo Mori)

TOKYO (UPI) -- A Japanese commission says the March 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima was a man-made disaster that could have been prevented.

The report by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission contradicts the accounts given of the crisis after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and casts doubt on the plant's ability to withstand earthquakes, The New York Times reported Thursday.

"It was a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response," Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission's chairman said in the report.

The report says the Tokyo Electric Power Company was too quick to dismiss quake damage as a cause of the fuel meltdowns at three of the plant's six reactors. Power company officials have said the disaster was caused by the tsunami and was beyond the scope of contingency planning,

The commission's suggestion that it was the earthquake that caused the meltdowns casts doubts on the safety of Japan's nuclear power plants, the newspaper said.

The Times said the report, based on more than 900 hours of hearings and interviews with 1,167 people, accused Tepco of failing to implement basic safety measures despite being aware of the risks of events that might cut off power systems. The government also failed to develop evacuation plan, the report said.

The commission said Japanese culture that suppresses dissent and outside opinion was also to blame.

"What must be admitted, very painfully, is that this was a disaster 'Made in Japan,'" Kurokawa said in the report. "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."

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