Late expert gave forewarning of Fukushima nuke plant disaster draws attention on Net


A short paper penned 16 years ago by an antinuclear scientist is drawing attention on the Internet for having warned about the dangers posed by the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Station and other old atomic plants.

Jinzaburo Takagi, the late former director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, also cautioned the government and utilities about their policy of not assessing the safety risks for nuclear power stations beyond their assumed scenarios.

The four-page paper in Japanese, titled “Nuclear Facilities and Emergencies – with Focus on Measures against Earthquakes,” appeared in the October 1995 issue of the Physical Society of Japan, a journal for a physicists’ group, after the Great Hanshin Earthquake devastated the Kobe area that January.

Based on data from the Kobe quake and other sources, Takagi, a former associate professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, used his paper to address issues related to antiquake designs and the obsolescence of nuclear power plants as well as fault lines.

Takagi, who died in 2000, blasted the government and power companies for “refusing to consider emergency measures in the event of an earthquake because they assume nuclear power plants will not break down in an earthquake and have stopped taking further steps at all.”

He also argued that the Great Hanshin Earthquake was a wakeup call for getting nuclear power facilities ready for emergencies, such as being “attacked by a tsunami along with a quake.”

“Discussions on the safety of nuclear power plants or disaster preparedness measures on the assumption of those situations occurring have been shunned, on the grounds that it is ‘inappropriate’ to make such assumptions or such discussions have some ulterior motive,” he said.

But Takagi said he “believes thinking out measures by making all possible assumptions is a more level-headed and realistic approach.”

The paper cited Fukushima Prefecture’s Hamadori coastal region as one of the areas with a concentration of nuclear facilities that could face a situation “beyond what has been imagined” if a major earthquake strikes. The region is home to the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power plants run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 is also referred to in the paper as an “obsolete nuclear power plant that raises the greatest concerns” and requires holding concrete discussions on its decommissioning.