Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has come out and publicly said on Friday that it deserves a majority of the blame for the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a very strong statement about the company’s shortcomings in the crisis if compared to the conclusions it made in its earlier investigation reports. The company was willing acknowledge that the it was ill prepared to deal with March 2011’s massive earthquake and the resulting tsunami, and that its crisis management processes were inadequate to deal with the resulting situations.
“Our safety culture, skills and ability were all insufficient,” TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said in a news conference. “We must humbly accept our failure to prevent the accident, which we should have avoided by using our wisdom and human resources to be better prepared.” The recent statement also admitted that TEPCO’s equipment and safety provisions were inadequate, and that more importantly, the meltdowns could have and should have been avoided.
The twin disasters that hit the Tohoku region of Japan 2011 cut all available power to TEPCO’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, inevitably causing three reactor meltdowns. The resulting radiation leak contaminated the air, water and soil around the plant, forcing the authorities to evacuate 160,000 residents of the area. TEPCO said that the company’s complacency regarding safety measures caused a lot of the trouble, as they had delayed on upgrading them until long after the crisis had already happened. TEPCO also admitted that the company was remiss and didn’t adequately inform the public of the risks and troubles at the plant during the crisis.
All the admissions and acknowledgement in the recent statement is a major reversal from TEPCO’s initial investigation report. In one of its initial reports in June 2012, TEPCO was adamant that the tsunami was mostly to blame for the nuclear. It went on to defend its crisis management processes and criticized what it called “excessive interference” from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Recently though, the company’s reluctance to claim responsibility triggered public outcry and an internal reform task force was launched, led by Hirose. A five-member committee of outside experts including former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief Dale Klein oversaw the task force, which was formed to re-investigate the crisis. This recent statement was a result of the task force’s re-investigation into the role that TEPCO played in what became the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
[via Huffington Post]