"Japanese Officials Ignored or Concealed Dangers"

"OMAEZAKI, Japan — The nuclear power plant, lawyers argued, could not withstand the kind of major earthquake that new seismic research now suggested was likely.

If such a quake struck, electrical power could fail, along with backup generators, crippling the cooling system, the lawyers predicted. The reactors would then suffer a meltdown and start spewing radiation into the air and sea. Tens of thousands in the area would be forced to flee.

Although the predictions sound eerily like the sequence of events at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the lawsuit was filed nearly a decade ago to shut down another plant, long considered the most dangerous in Japan — the Hamaoka station.

It was one of several quixotic legal battles waged — and lost — in a long attempt to improve nuclear safety and force Japan’s power companies, nuclear regulators, and courts to confront the dangers posed by earthquakes and tsunamis on some of the world’s most seismically active ground."

Norimitsu Onishi and Martin Fackler report for the New York Times May 16, 2011.

SEE ALSO:

"Fukushima Disaster Deepens U.S. Turmoil Over Nuclear Waste Storage" (ClimateWire)

Editorial: "Could a Nuclear Disaster Happen In N.J.?" (Newark Star Ledger)

"Japan Evacuates Residents Beyond Fukushima No-Go Zone" (BBC)

"Tepco Says It Can Still Bring Japan Nuclear Plant To Safe State In 6-9 Months" (Wall St. Journal)

"Japan Admits Getting Nuke Updates Via Media" (Australian ABC)

"Company Sticks With Plan To End Japan Nuclear Crisis in Nine Months" (CNN)

Nothing to See at Fukushima; Move Along (Huffington Post)

"Was Fukushima a China Syndrome?" (TIME)

"Meltdown May Have Occurred Also at Nos. 2, 3 Reactors" (Japan Today)

"Panel Proposes Network Of Nuclear Waste Sites" (Reuters)

"Japan Govt Body Detailed Tsunami Risks Before March 11: Documents " (Reuters)

"Radiation Found In Seaweed Near Crippled Japan Plant" (Reuters)

"Calls For Some Nuclear Plants To Boost Safety" (Reuters)

"TEPCO Rethinks Flooding Reactor No. 1 After Leakage Found" (Asahi Shimbun)

"Quake Took Out Fukushima Cooling System Before Tsunami" (New Scientist)

"Japan's Thin, White Security Blanket" (Los Angeles Times)

Source: NY Times, 05/17/2011