Fukushima could happen again, investigators say, as insufficient lessons learned

September 01, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The Fukushima disaster needs a root-and-branch investigation far deeper than the inquiries currently held, said the lead investigators of three of those probes.

Their reports, released this year, examined factors behind the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, but said the complete picture remains unknown in part because of difficulty gathering evidence inside four destroyed reactor buildings.

"It would still be an enormous challenge to bring an accident under control if another occurred," said Koichi Kitazawa, former chairman of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, who led a private panel, at a forum of the Science Council of Japan on Aug. 31.

"We should continue to explore ways to handle it from a technological viewpoint."

Also present were Yoichiro Hatamura, professor emeritus of engineering at the University of Tokyo, who chaired a government inquiry, and Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who led a Diet investigative committee. The public forum on Aug. 31 marked the first time the three chiefs had jointly discussed the disaster in public.

Hatamura cited plant engineers' failure to notice that water-level gauges were malfunctioning early in the crisis. He said that error, by employees of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., showed the need for a study into why such mistakes were made.

"We should establish a field of research that explores why certain approaches aren't working," he said.

Kurokawa, former chairman of the Science Council of Japan, also called on Japan's nuclear engineers to improve their expertise and skill.

"They should embark more frequently on exchanges with foreign counterparts, in order to excel internationally," he said.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Former inquiry chiefs, from left, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Yotaro Hatamura and Koichi Kitazawa discuss the Fukushima disaster in Tokyo on Aug. 31. (Ryuta Koike)

Former inquiry chiefs, from left, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Yotaro Hatamura and Koichi Kitazawa discuss the Fukushima disaster in Tokyo on Aug. 31. (Ryuta Koike)

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  • Former inquiry chiefs, from left, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Yotaro Hatamura and Koichi Kitazawa discuss the Fukushima disaster in Tokyo on Aug. 31. (Ryuta Koike)

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