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Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

  • June 11th, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

fukushima-greenpeace3.jpgCOMMENTARY: Anger and fresh critiques have emerged over the handling of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.


Japanese government officials and the company that was running the nuclear plants, TEPCO, have been accused of delaying or concealing information on contamination and melt-down – with talk now that a “melt-through” to the earth has occurred.

The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, at Vienna) has reaffirmed in its latest report that the situation remains “very serious”.

“TEPCO has reported that information obtained after calibration of the reactor water level gauges of Unit 1 shows that the actual water level in the Unit 1 reactor pressure vessel was lower than was indicated, showing that the fuel was completely uncovered. The results of provisional analysis show that fuel pellets melted and fell to the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel at a relatively early stage in the accident”, it said.

The agency has presented a report to the Japanese government telling it a drastic revision is needed in  the construction, operation and protection of nuclear plants.

That has nourished growing criticism that much better safeguards should have been in place against accidents like the one that happened on 11.3.11 – an earthquake, followed by a tidal wave inflicting heavy damage on the nuclear facilities close to the coast.

The movement against the nuclear industry in Japan, marginalised for decades, has acquired public support it would only have wanted in other circumstances; thousands turning out at citizen demonstrations this week, demanding a retreat from the country’s dependence on nuclear power.


nuclear-plant_grafenrheinfeld.jpgWhere good manners is no antidote to arrogance; if the Japanese authorities were denying truths about what happened, there was no sign of  chastisement from  Europe, when the prime Minister Naoto Kan visited Brussels (28.5.11).

The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, expressed “sympathy and admiration for the Japanese people’s courage and resilience”, thoughts of  “Kizuna”  (friendship), and also “Shinrai” (trust).

That EC view was looking cheery against the obvious mess on the ground, danger from the nuclear accident and public dissension in Japan.

“We firmly believe that Japan is safe and open for business; I am sure that with the efforts of the government, Japan will come back even stronger than before”, Mr Barroso said.

He did speak generally on energy cooperation and nuclear safety, urging better standards, through international efforts “to promote the highest levels of nuclear safety around the globe, notably through the strengthening of the International Convention on Nuclear Safety under the IAEA.”

“Radiation does not stop at borders; and neither should our collective responsibility …”, he said.

“This should include comprehensive and ambitious stress tests of nuclear plants.

“The EU has moved first to adopt the most stringent safety standards in the world and proposed stress tests for all our power plants, which will be implemented as of 1 June.

“We want these stress tests to go beyond Europe.”

The occasion was an EU-Japan summit to take further, proposals for a free trade agreement.


ABS-CBN News, Quezon City, “Japan anti-nuclear protesters rally 3 months after quake”, 11.6.11., (11.6.11).

Allianz Knowledge, Munich, (Reuters), “Japan underestimated tsunami risks for nuclear plants – IAEA report”, 1.6.11., (11.6.11).

IAEA, Vienna, “IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (2 June 2011, 18:30 UTC)”, 2.6.11., (11.6.11).

Radio Australia, Melbourne, “Japan’s disaster zone marks three-month anniversary”, 11.6.11., (11.6.11).

Picture  Greenpeace