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Fukushima report faults TEPCO, government
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (UPI) Dec 27, 2011

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A report on Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster chided both the Japanese central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the nuclear plant.

The 500-page report, released Monday by a government-appointed investigative panel, was the result of interviews with hundreds of utility workers and government officials.

A magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11 led to a meltdown at the Fukushima facility, the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl.

"TEPCO did not take precautionary measures in anticipation that a severe accident could be caused by tsunami such as the one (that hit Fukushima) … Neither did the regulatory authorities," the report states.

Regarding the No. 1 reactor, for example, the report says the task force at the plant and the head office of TEPCO had initially failed to realize that an isolation condenser, intended to cool the reactor during a blackout, wasn't working.

Also, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his Cabinet ministers weren't informed about the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, which predicted how the wind would distribute radioactive material that had been ejected from the reactors, the report said.

The report also points to inadequate information gathering and poor communication among the government, regulators and TEPCO as factors that worsened the crisis.

"Authorities failed to think of the disaster response from the perspective of victims," said University of Tokyo Professor Emeritus Yotaro Hatamura, who headed the panel.

In its conclusion, the report said: "The nuclear disaster is far from over."

An editorial Tuesday in Japan's Mainichi Daily News, noting that the interim report fails to depict the entire picture of the accident, called for more specific and detailed information in the final report, due this summer.

In response to the report's finding that the utility should have taken precautionary measures to deal with severe accidents triggered by a tsunami, a TEPCO official was quoted by Kyodo News as saying Tuesday that "it is not exactly right to say that we should have done so before March 11, although in hindsight the steps we had taken were not sufficient."

Also Tuesday TEPCO said it has asked for an additional $8.8 billion in aid from the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund for compensation payments related to the Fukushima disaster.

The fund had earlier agreed to provide $11.5 billion to TEPCO. The company said more funds were needed in part because of government guidelines for compensation to those who had voluntarily evacuated due to the nuclear crisis.

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TEPCO asked to consider temporary state control
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 27, 2011 - Japan's government on Tuesday floated the idea of putting the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant under temporary state control, as it asked for $8.9 billion more in compensation aid.

Yukio Edano, the minister of economy, trade and industry, told Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to consider "every possibility including temporary state control" to strengthen its financial base, the Jiji and Kyodo news agencies reported.

Edano made the remark when he met TEPCO president Toshio Nishizawa after the company asked for the additional aid from a government-backed fund to help it compensate families affected by the nuclear crisis

A massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11 left 20,000 dead or missing and crippled nuclear reactors into meltdown at the plant in Japan's northeast.

The company's request, if granted, would bring the amount of aid the utility has sought from the Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation to 1.7 trillion yen ($21.8 billion) from a previous 1.01 trillion yen.

TEPCO said the increase results from government moves to widen eligibility criteria for claimants and to alter the evacuation zone restrictions around the stricken plant, which was hit by the tsunami's huge waves.

The decisions have increased both the amount of compensation that the firm is liable for and the number of people entitled to claim it, TEPCO said.

"We submitted a change to the amount of financial assistance" required, it said in a statement.

A government panel has estimated claims from victims affected by the world's worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl could reach 4.5 trillion yen by 2013.

The accident has not directly claimed any lives, but left tens of thousands of people displaced and rendered whole towns uninhabitable, possibly for decades.

The utility's shares tumbled earlier this month on a press report that it would be effectively nationalised following a massive government share purchase.

The share purchase -- which would be made through a state-backed body set up to help pay nuclear compensation costs -- was aimed at putting TEPCO under temporary government control as it undergoes a massive restructuring, the Mainichi newspaper reported.

The report did not say what percentage of TEPCO shares the government would own after the sale, but added that Tokyo would move to replace company chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and most of its senior executives.


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Japan atomic regulators, TEPCO 'unprepared': panel
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 26, 2011
The operators of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant and government regulators were woefully unprepared for disaster, the first official probe into the March 11 catastrophe said Monday. An independent panel set up to investigate the events around the world's worst nuclear accident in a generation said Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency ha ... read more

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