With Japan turning on the first of potentially many nuclear reactors shut down in the wake of the horrendous Fukushima disaster, the entire ordeal has come round full-swing and back under public scrutiny once again. Many of the Japanese public have rallied against this switching back on, of what is deemed as crucial supplies of electricity with the coming warm summer, and the whole country has been experiencing protests and demonstrations the likes of which are rarely, if ever, seen within the kooky nation.
Unfortunately, the flipping of the nuclear switch could not have come at a worse time in terms of global public opinion, with the release of the final report from the Japanese government pertaining to why and how Fukushima came to not only lose all power including backup, but to explode in quite an impressive fashion, spraying the surrounding landscape with nuclear fallout, albeit resulting in no deaths or serious injury, at least up until now. The conclusion of the investigation was brutal and to the point - nature was not to blame, but poor regulation, collusion between multiple governing bodies, safety issues and a complete lack of any effort to solidify the plant against possible disasters. In short, it was manmade.
Going further, the report finds that since 2006, the plant executives and safety managers knew full-well that a large tsunami had the potential to severely damage the plant and shutdown the seawater pumps which lead to the hydrogen release and explosion. When the disaster struck, they were “quick to blame the tsunami and that further investigation into the earthquake impact was needed”.
In the end, it was seen that a lack of care for public welfare and an apparent focus on mitigating risk to the organisations involved ultimately led to poor handling of the situation both before and after the incident, with safety protocol and radiation measures all but ignored in the proceeding weeks. So all in all, it was a haymaker to the face of all those governing bodies tasked with dealing with Fukushima, and any talk of nature being the prime suspect were all but swept under the rug in an instant. Silly, naughty Japanese government.
Personally, I feel this report, of which I’m sure was extremely professionally handled and undoubtedly raises some serious questions over safety and nuclear regulation worldwide, still takes the issues far too deeply into the human end of things. Yes, safety measures were weak and outdated with little likelihood of being updated, and the ridiculous amount of dotted lines and red tape the nuclear fission process has to go through almost certainly leads some to cut corners, but there are other issues afoot.
When the earthquake struck, it was far beyond even the most extreme projections the Japanese officials had tested, hitting a whopping 9.0 on the Richter Scale, making it not only in the top five world’s largest quakes, but the largest Japan has ever recorded. Combine this with the shallow depth at which it struck, just 20 miles below sea level and only 43 miles off the coast, and the tsunami produced reached heights only Hollywood movies could conceive. In effect, it was a perfect storm of natural disasters.