The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 30, No. 3, August 5, 2013.
In the Dark With Tepco: Fukushima’s Legacy for Nuclear Power
The sad saga of Fukushima, with its recurrent revelations of incompetence and obfuscation, carries on. Among the latest, as related in detail in this July 31 Reuters article, are radioactive releases into the sea, unexplained ventings of steam, and the lack of a credible plan to deal with a daily 400-tonne influx of groundwater. Tokyo Electric, or TEPCO, is clearly unable or unwilling to devote the resources necessary to resolve this crisis, which will continue for decades. As United Nations University research fellow Christopher Hobson argues, the only solution is for the government to take over.
Tepco is desperate to survive. Japan’s most loathed firm - and a millstone for the global nuclear business - it recently hired British-American Lady Barbara Judge, chair of the UK Atomic Energy Authority from 2004 to 2010, and still its honorary chairwoman, to oversee its safety campaign. This employment of a foreign woman, to put a new face on Tepco was announced in early July. But that aggressive public relations move did not stop Tepco from being chary with the truth on the release of radioactive water into the ocean. Tepco had denied these releases for months, in the face of accumulating evidence and a chorus of criticism that included the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). It apparently confirmed the releases on July 18.