Nuclear group blames overconfidence for crisis

JIJI

Overconfidence in nuclear plant safety was behind the Fukushima crisis, according to an interim report by the Atomic Energy Society of Japan released Wednesday.

The main direct cause of the meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. facility was the loss of reactor cooling functions due to damage from the unexpectedly huge tsunami unleashed by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, the report says.

Announced at the group’s annual meeting at Kinki University in Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, the report also cites Tepco’s insufficient preparations for severe calamities.

As part of the report, the society announced the results of a questionnaire asking 289 people, including former members of the group, about the cause of the Fukushima catastrophe and what the society should have done to prevent it.

Some respondents said Tepco’s overconfidence in nuclear plant safety and lack of humility led to the disaster.

Others criticized the academic group for a lack of communications and excessive focus on promoting nuclear energy.

The report stresses the need to examine a wide range of issues, including how to improve the defense-in-depth system for nuclear reactor safety and steps to reconstruct areas polluted with radioactive substances from a damaged nuclear plant.

The society launched its investigation last August.

It plans to release a final report next December that is expected to include detailed views of how the disaster progressed and how decontamination of contaminated areas should be pursued.