A+ A-

Japan panel blames Fukushima plant operator, nuclear regulators

TOKYO, July 23 (KUNA) -- A government-appointed panel investigating last year March's Fukushima disaster concluded Monday that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and nuclear regulators did not take sufficient measures to deal with possible severe nuclear accidents triggered by natural disasters, saying they were "overconfident." In its final report submitted to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the 10-member panel of independent experts also blamed TEPCO for mishandling its initial response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11 last year, such as suspension of the water injection to cool the reactors after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power supply.
It also said there was no evidence that the quake itself caused fatal damages to key facilities of the three reactors. An earlier report by TEPCO said the accident was primarily caused by a larger-than-anticipated tsunami and ruled out a possibility that the earthquake itself affected the equipment.
The panel urged the government and TEPCO to conduct further investigations to fully disclose the cause of the accident.
The report also blasted then Prime Minister Naoto Kan's interference in emergency work to tackle the crisis had rather harmful effects, saying it had more harmful effects than changing the situation for the better.
Kan visited the plant one day after the accident, while the plant workers were facing massive danger in trying to avert a full meltdown. Three of the six reactors at the Fukushima plant located 230 km north of Tokyo suffered meltdowns as the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.
The accident has forced tens of thousands of residents around the plant to evacuate and damaged the agriculture, livestock and fishery industries in the region. A private-sector panel, TEPCO and a parliamentary panel have also conducted their own investigations to clarify the cause of the nuclear accident. (end) mk.rk KUNA 231223 Jul 12NNNN