Nearly 16 months after a monster earthquake off the coast of northern Japan led to extreme conditions in at least 6 of 10 nuclear reactor units on the coast of Fukushima province [Fukushima Daiichi and Daini], an independent investigation commissioned by Japan's parliament has released its report.
The report focused on the most publicized of the facilities, the 6-unit Fukushima I, a.k.a. Daiichi. Which suffered total meltdowns, explosions and melt-throughs in 3 units - including one using MOX plutonium fuel - plus explosion and fires at one that had its entire core in its spent fuel pool during maintenance when the earthquake occurred.
Daiichi further suffered total loss of coolant flow to 4 of 7 spent fuel pools loaded with more than 1500 tons of ridiculously radioactive spent fuel accumulated over 30+ years, and the situation is still quite far from being what could be considered "under control." The MOX unit [#3] is still so grossly contaminated that recovery workers and even robots can't get near it, while the #4 unit's spent fuel pool, which contained the reactor's current core at the time of the accident, is tilting, leaking, and barely held up with glorified house jacks 30 meters above the ground even as seismic activity in the area has increased ten-fold since March 11 of 2011.
The New York Times offers this summary in its lede paragraph:
The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry concluded on Thursday.Moreover, the report also concluded that the facilities at Daiichi may have been irreparably damaged by the earthquake itself well before the resulting tsunami arrived to take out the Emergency Diesel Generators providing backup power to vital systems.
In the introduction to the report, commission chairman Kiyoshi Kurokawa wrote…
"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."BBC offered more from Kurukawa's intro…
"Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster," it said.The report further concluded that the disaster "was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco" due to corruption leading to the failure of regulatory systems.
The report directly contradicted previous investigation findings, suggesting that the #1 reactor in particular "may have" been so damaged by the earthquake that its fate was sealed before the tsunami hit. This was of course reported many times since 3-11-11 by workers (including GE engineers on site when the earthquake occurred) and governmental whistleblowers, but this report makes it as 'official' as anything ever gets in Japanese culture. Even while placing blame on that very culture. Sigh. Only in Japan does such obvious criminal collusion generate polite 'suggestions' instead of scathing indictments.
Meanwhile, two of the reactors at Ohi were restarted last weekend despite massive protests in Tokyo, and ample, longstanding evidence that these GE reactors are so badly designed they are guaranteed to blow in any accident involving melted fuel.
This is the current update on nuclear happenings in Japan, as of today: July 5, 2012. And don't forget - the United States has 30 of these GE reactors in operation around the country, also guaranteed to blow in any accident involving melted fuel. It's inevitable that such a disaster will occur somewhere during the 20-year extensions to operational licensing the NRC has been passing out willy-nilly to these and all other plants operated by the U.S. nuclear industry. Is there a nuke within 50 miles of you?
…and if so, what do you plan to do about it?
CNN: Japanese parliament report: Fukushima nuclear crisis was 'man-made'
NYT: Commission Calls Fukushima Nuclear Crisis a Man-Made Disaster
BBC: Japan panel: Fukushima nuclear disaster 'man-made'
VoR: Flaws in US General Electric Reactors: Japan starts up after Fukushima