A former senior government official from the Democratic Party of Japan says that Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the utility operator of beleaguered Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, delayed putting into action the plan to create frozen-soil groundwater shields at the plant. The government will now be spending ¥32 billion (approx. $326 million) to build these underground walls to keep groundwater away from the plant.
Sumio Mabuchi, a senior member from the now opposition DPJ, said that TEPCO was to have announced the frozen-soil shield plan on June 14, 2011, a few months after the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, considered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. He was an aide to then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and was in charge of the plan for the government. But then TEPCO asked then Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda to postpone the announcement because it might affect their equity due to the ¥100 billion ($1.02 billion) costs of the water shield. The government agreed to defer the announcement so as to avoid confusing the market.
Two years later, Fukushima is embroiled in a crisis due to the leakage of irradiated water from one of the storage tanks. And one of the solutions is to build underground walls by freezing the soil around the buildings that house the nuclear reactors, the very same solution that TEPCO deferred in 2011. One of the criticisms ever since the accident at Fukushima is that the government had a much too cozy relationship with the nuclear plant operators, to the point that quality and safety were compromised. If this claim is proven true, this is another proof that TEPCO could have avoided the problems that they are experiencing now if they had taken the proper steps towards cleaning up the crippled plant.
[ via Jiji Press ]