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Japan Today

TEPCO rejected requests for anti-tsunami steps before nuclear crisis
A crane works on the building covering No. 1 reactor (L) at the TEPCO’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in this file photo. Reuters

 

TOKYO —

Tokyo Electric Power Co turned down requests in 2009 by the nuclear safety agency to consider concrete steps against tsunami waves at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered a tsunami-triggered disaster two years later, government documents showed Friday.

“Do you think you can stop the reactors?” a TEPCO official was quoted as telling Shigeki Nagura of the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who was then assigned to review the plant’s safety, in response to one of his requests.

The detailed exchanges between the plant operator and regulator came to light through the latest disclosure of government records on its investigation into the nuclear crisis, adding to evidence that TEPCO failed to take proper safety steps ahead of the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

According to records of Nagura’s accounts, Nagura heard TEPCO’s explanations of its tsunami estimates at the agency office in Tokyo in August and September 2009 as it was becoming clear that the coastal areas of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit by massive tsunami in an 869 earthquake.

TEPCO said the height of waves was estimated to be around 8 meters above sea level and will not reach the plant site located at a height of 10 meters, they show.

But Nagura said he remembered thinking pumps with key cooling functions, which are located on the ground at a height of 4 meters, “will not make it” and told TEPCO, “If this is the outcome, you better consider concrete responses.”

 

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