"Ties Bind Japan Nuke Sector, Regulators"

"TOKYO — Nearly 10 years after Japan's top utility first assured the government that its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was safe from any tsunami, regulators were just getting around to checking out the claim. The move was too little, too late.

But even if there had been scrutiny years before the fury of an earthquake-powered wave swamped the six atomic reactors at Fukushima on March 11, it is almost certain the government wouldn't have challenged the unrealistic analysis that Tokyo Electric Power Co. had submitted in 2001. An Associated Press review of Japan's approach to nuclear plant safety shows how closely intertwined relationships between government regulators and industry have allowed a culture of complacency to prevail.

Regulators simply didn't see it as their role to pick apart the utility's raw data and computer modeling to judge for themselves whether the plant was sufficiently protected from tsunami. The policy amounted to this: Trust plant operator TEPCO — and don't worry about verifying its math or its logic."

Yuri Kageyama and Justin Pritchard report for the Associated Press May 2, 2011.

SEE ALSO:

"Nuclear Waste Storage A Top Issue For NRC: Chairman" (Reuters)

"Why Older Nuclear Power Plants Remain 'Cash Cows' Despite Fukushima" (ClimateWire)

"What Will the N.R.C. Learn From Fukushima?" (Green/NYT)

"Kan Admits Failure to Address Nuclear Problems as Another Plant Leaks" (ENS)

"Parents Fight Back Over Raised Radiation Limits" (Independent)

"Nuclear Facility to Boost Defenses" (Wall St. Journal)

"NRC Chief Says Nuke Agency To Look at Flood Risk" (Associated Press)

Source: AP, 05/03/2011