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Regarding the front-page Oct. 8 article “Noda gets close look at Fukushima plant,” reporter Reiji Yoshida quotes one of the “Fukushima 50” workers as saying, “The (power generators) were knocked out by water from the tsunami. I thought it was all over.” The reporter then adds that “the workers successfully shut down all of the reactors and averted a catastrophic nuclear chain reaction. But after the ensuing tsunami crippled the reactor cores’ critical power and cooling systems, the remaining decay heat from the melted nuclear fuel eventually burned through the pressure vessels.”

By failing to separate a worker’s claim from what is far from an established fact, the article inadvertently and unjustifiably lends credence to the argument advanced by the nuclear industry that it was the tsunami and not the earthquake that led to the multiple meltdowns.

Indeed, in “Fukushima probes leave questions” (July 27), reporter Kazuaki Nagata notes that Tepco “played down” the role of the earthquake in the meltdowns and that a Diet-appointed panel took issue with this assumption, citing evidence that suggests the generators were knocked out before the tsunami hit. Reporters Jake Adelsetin and David McNeill, in “Meltdown, What Really Happened” (The Atlantic, July 2, 2011) interviewed several plant workers who saw broken pipes and cracks in the walls after the earthquake and before the tsunami, which hit almost 50 minutes after the quake.

Even Tepco has had to admit that at least one radiation monitor showed high radiation levels before the tsunami hit, but such data has been swept under the rug in order to play up the significance of the tsunami. As historian Robert Jacobs of Hiroshima City University notes, Tepco and the government denied the occurrence of any meltdowns for several months. This begs the question of whether they can even be trusted to tell the truth about the cause of the disaster. As Jacobs noted in a recent symposium, to admit that the earthquake caused the meltdowns would imply that all of Japan’s plants and many worldwide would have to be shut down. They won’t do that, Jacob says, in order to “protect their investments, even if the result is to expose millions … to the dangers of a nuclear meltdown”.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

paul arenson

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