Friday, August 9, 2013

Naoto Kan, TEPCO Top Management Won't Be Prosecuted Over #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident and Its Aftermath

Not surprising at all, particularly when then-Prime Minister Noda said back in March 2012 that no one in particular was at fault, we were all at fault.

When everyone is said to be responsible, no one is responsible.

All Japanese papers "leaked" this story on August 8, 2013. Some leak. A very detailed one at that, too.

Here's one from Asahi Shinbun (8/8/2013; part):

原発事故、全員が不起訴へ 東電前会長や菅元首相ら

All people concerned, including former chairman of TEPCO and former Prime Minister Kan, won't be prosecuted


It was revealed on August 8 that the Public Prosecutors Office is coordinating [among themselves] so as not to prosecute any one of those who have been charged for professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries over the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. They include TEPCO's top management and government officials. The prosecutors are expected to announce this non-institution of prosecution by the end of August.


Total 15,000 people, mostly people near the plant and affected by the nuclear accident, have been filing charges intermittently since the accident in March 2011 that they suffered injuries, such as hospital patients having died during the evacuation right after the accident, and residents exposed to radiation. The charges were against former Prime Minister Kan, TEPCO's former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, former president Masataka Shimizu, Nuclear Safety Commission's chairman Haruki Madarame, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda, and dozens of others. The charges were received by the prosecutors in August last year. The Public Prosecutors Office has asked for help from prosecutors in the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office and Fukushima District Prosecutors Office, and has been questioning.


...As the result, [the Public Prosecutors Office] has come to the conclusion that an earthquake and tsunami on such a large scale cannot be said to have been predicted by experts before it actually took place. As to the cause of hydrogen explosions in the reactor buildings, they have dismissed the charges that the delay in vent to lower the pressure inside the Containment Vessels led to the hydrogen explosions; instead, the prosecutors decided that the delay was caused by high radiation levels and power outage. The Public Prosecution Office is expected to conclude that it will be difficult to establish criminal liability of former Prime Minister Kan and TEPCO management.

Never mind that an earthquake and tsunami of that magnitude have actually been predicted by experts. Never mind that the government under Naoto Kan hid the data of radiation levels "so as not to panic the populace", when it was them who panicked. It was those bureaucrats at NISA who had the more accurate simulation of radiation dispersion and were about to set the more precise evacuation areas, but completely dropped that effort as soon as they learned that Kan, Edano, and Kaieda came up with those childish concentric circles.

Never mind that it was the government who did nothing to stop farmers in Fukushima from tilling the contaminated land and plant crops right after the March 11, 2011 accident.

A UN committee member spoke of Japanese judicial system as "medieval" where the prosecution almost always wins, near 100%. The Japanese prosecution hardly ever even thinks of indicting the national government officials and powerful corporate elites, and there is no grand jury system in Japan.


Anonymous said...

The size of the tsunami was predicted by Tepco itself and yet no prosecution??


Anonymous said...

Recommended reading

Disowning Fukushima: Managing the
credibility of nuclear reliability assessment
in the wake of disaster
John Downer
School of Sociology Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

This paper reflects on the credibility of nuclear risk assessment in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima
meltdowns. In democratic states, policymaking around nuclear energy has long been premised on
an understanding that experts can objectively and accurately calculate the probability of catastrophic
accidents. Yet the Fukushima disaster lends credence to the substantial body of social
science research that suggests such calculations are fundamentally unworkable. Nevertheless, the
credibility of these assessments appears to have survived the disaster, just as it has resisted the
evidence of previous nuclear accidents. This paper looks at why. It argues that public narratives of
the Fukushima disaster invariably frame it in ways that allow risk-assessment experts to “disown”
it. It concludes that although these narratives are both rhetorically compelling and highly consequential
to the governance of nuclear power, they are not entirely credible.
Keywords: Fukushima, nuclear disaster/accidents, nuclear policy, risk assessment and
governance, technology assessment.

Eight years involved with the nuclear industry have taught me that when nothing can
possibly go wrong and every avenue has been covered, then is the time to buy a house
on the next continent.
∼Terry Prachett

Anonymous said...

The paper is freely accessible under the link below:

It's basically crap. Downer compares NPPs to planes, bridges and dams… without getting the obvious point that no one is thinking of banning either of those, although all have been involved in very severe accidents, especially dams. In case of an accident, you see whether you can learn something, and then readjust risk models and make things safer (valid for all technologies).
The tragedy in Fukushima is that there is not really much to learn. IMHO, the main responsibility lies in the Japanese regulators, who did not require those upgrades (backup cooling, hardened vents, venting filters) that were installed decades ago elsewhere after the TMI accident. This is especially unforgivable given the high natural risks in Japan.
It is baffling that Downer completely misses out this point (demonstrably different risk assessments and regulations in different places) in a supposedly 'serious' paper… He could have relatively easily compared the specifications for different groups of countries and produced a good paper, useful as a tool for those citizens of "too optimistic" countries to put pressure on their establishment to beef up norms (e.g. missing containment filters in the USA).

Finally, he conveniently skips the main point: how many people die from NPPs per unit energy produced vs. other technologies. For example, coal, only Germany: ca. 3000 early deaths per year (10 deaths/TWh), and the German government prefers to close down NPPs so they can keep coal working and gassing their citizens in the process (40 TWh/y nuclear closed and coal kept instead ~400 extra deaths/year)… This is by (very) far the most glaring (and deadly) risk assessment mistake!

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