Home > In the News, The Environment. > “It’s Like Building on a Heap Of Tofu.”

“It’s Like Building on a Heap Of Tofu.”

There is a very interesting article on Yahoo this morning. It seems as if the Japanese government has been covering up many safety violations and accidents in their nuclear power industry. Go figure. Since the early 60’s, when the Japanese government decided to ween itself off its dependance of foriegn oil, the nuclear power industry has enjoyed a cozy relationship with federal regulators. There has been a history of accidents and cover ups in Japan that is only rivaled by the U.S. relationships with the oil industry. The list of Japanese power plant accidents is a long one, and includes

_In 1999, fuel-reprocessing workers were reported to be using stainless steel buckets to hand-mix uranium in flagrant violation of safety standards at the Tokaimura plant. Two workers later died in what was the deadliest accident in the Japanese industry’s history.

• At least 37 workers were exposed to low doses of radiation at a 1997 fire and explosion at a nuclear reprocessing plant operated in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo. The operator, Donen, later acknowledged it had initially suppressed information about the fire.

• Hundreds of people were exposed to radiation and thousands evacuated in the more serious 1999 Tokaimura accident involving JCO Co. The government assigned the accident a level 4 rating on the International Nuclear Event Scale ranging from 1 to 7, with 7 being most serious.

• In 2007, a powerful earthquake ripped into Japan’s northwest coast, killing at least eight people and causing malfunctions at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant, including radioactive water spills, burst pipes and fires. Radiation did not leak from the facility.

 In 1978, control rods at one Fukushima reactor dislodged but the accident was not reported because utilities were not required to notify the government of such accidents.

In 2006, Tepco reported a negligible amount of radioactive steam seeped from the Fukushima plant — and blew beyond the compound.

There are currently 54 nuclear plants in Japan, with 2 more under construction, and 11 more plant proposals to build. All in a heavily populated nation that is a virtual earthquake and tsunami magnet. It appears that Tepco built all these plants while cutting corners, and ignoring many industry standards. Tepco and the Japanese government have managed to put the entire island, and now possibly the planet at a danger level of epic proportions. Thanks to them, it probably will not be long until we all become luminescent like so many glo-sticks at an ecstacy laden rave.  Considering the history of corruption in all of our energy industries, if this is President Obama’s idea of clean energy for America, I’ll pass. Thanks but no thanks.

  1. ojmo
    March 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    It appears Tepco wasn’t alone in cutting corners. Robert Reich points out that the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi were successfully marketed by General Electric to Tepco as cheaper due to using a smaller containment structure, and that the same design is used in 16 American nuclear plants…


    • March 18, 2011 at 6:50 am

      I am so not surprised that American greed would be involved. After all, we do things bigger and better here in “Umerica.” Thanks for the link, and thanks for peeking beneath the hat! 🙂


  2. March 18, 2011 at 2:08 am

    I think we’re seeing the flip side of the Japanese culture. On the one hand, the people are quiet, humble, and hard-working; on the other hand, the leaders are given free reign by an acquiescent people to do whatever they deem right for the good of the country. If that means suppressing mistakes made, then so be it. It seems only the threat of another Hiroshima, 65 years later, is what it takes for the people to awake from their self-induced nap.

    Will they get a second chance to rise again from the ashes? Will they finally learn from the second-go-round? Or when everything returns to normal, will the Japanese fall asleep beneath the cherry blossom trees once again…and let the politicians and business men have at it once more?

    japanese ethics…a double-edged sword…hugmamma.


    • March 18, 2011 at 6:47 am

      I have a feeling that no matter what happens with the reactor, the people who are left to pick up the pieces are going to be angry. We’re seeing that all over the world, including the U.S. How they channel that anger is anybody’s guess.


  3. March 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Don’t you feel like when our backs are to the walls, all we can do is shake our heads and throw our hands in the air? Other than pray, and hope, and help where possible…I think it’s out of our hands.

    or is it?…hugmamma.


  4. March 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I think in a situation like this, all we can do is hope for the best. We can no better control what is going on with the situation in Japan than we can control the big business that is energy production here in America. Greed and corruption is a way of life in this world, and the disasters that occur in energy production are results of that greed. Unfortunately there is not a whole lot we can do about it.


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