"Nuclear Disaster in Japan Was Avoidable, Critics Contend"

"TOKYO -- A year after a huge earthquake and tsunami caused nearly catastrophic meltdowns at a nuclear plant, Japan is still grappling with a crucial question: was the accident simply the result of an unforeseeable natural disaster or something that could have been prevented?

Japan’s nuclear regulators and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, have said that the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 45-foot tsunami on March 11 that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were far larger than anything that scientists had predicted. That conclusion has allowed the company to argue that it is not responsible for the triple meltdown, which forced the evacuation of about 90,000 people.

But some insiders from Japan’s tightly knit nuclear industry have stepped forward to say that Tepco and regulators had for years ignored warnings of the possibility of a larger-than-expected tsunami in northeastern Japan, and thus failed to take adequate countermeasures, such as raising wave walls or placing backup generators on higher ground."
 
Martin Fackler reports for the New York Times March 9, 2012.

SEE ALSO:

"A Year After Japan’s Triple Disaster, An Uncertain Recovery" (Washington Post)

"Cancer Fears and Depression Plague Japanese Refugees" (Der Spiegel)

"A Year After Tsunami, a Cloud of Distrust Hangs Over Japan" (Los Angeles Times)

"One Year Later, Will Fukushima Evacuees Ever Return Home?" (CTV)

"Thousands Protest Against Reopening Nuclear Plants in Japan" (Daily Telegraph)

"Japan Tsunami: Sirens, Prayers And a Wave of Sorrow" (Daily Telegraph)

"At Edge of Japan's Nuclear Zone, Residents Face an Uncertain Future" (TIME)

"Japan’s Nuclear Energy Industry Nears Shutdown, at Least for Now" (New York Times)

"Activists file lawsuit to try to stop restart of Japanese nuclear plant" (CNN)

"IAEA Says Nuclear Power Safer 1 Year After Fukushima" (Reuters)

Source: NY Times, 03/12/2012