Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the Japanese utility company responsible for managing the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, admitted for the first time on Friday that meltdown crisis was something that could have been avoided. A statement from the company said that they were warned about the safety threats a tsunami posed to the Fukushima facility and what improvements were needed. TEPCO’s internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said that it was possible to take preventative action, but nothing was really done.
The excuse that TEPCO offers for is mass negligence and ignoring or numerous warnings? That they were afraid of the political and legal consequences from admitting that safety improvements needed to be made. That the decision to better protect nuclear power plants from natural disasters would result in anti-nuclear sentiment, cause problems with company operations, or put them at risk of legal actions. Oh how justifying it is that all three of those things have come true after TEPCO’s mismanagement ruined tens of thousands of lives by causing mass evacuations, making homes inhabitable, and simply creating the worst nuclear accident the world has seen in the last 25 years.
An admission of this type marks a big change for the utility, which in the immediate aftermath of the disaster had tried to defend its safety preparations and crisis management. Their own internal accident report tried to claim that a tsunami and its effects on the Fukushima plant could not have been predicted. Several investigative reports ordered by the government and Japan’s parliament, however, concluded that the primary cause of the nuclear crisis was collusion between TEPCO, regulation agencies, and government officials, which lead to weak supervision and no enforcement of safety requirements.
The statement was released just after the first meeting of TEPCO’s internal reform committee, which was led by Dale Klein, a former nuclear regulatory chief in the U.S. His five-member team is overseeing the task force’s plans to learn from past mistakes and turn the company around.