by David Safier
A report by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded that the earthquake preceding the tsunami might have been the initial cause of the disaster, bursting the pipes that carried coolant to the reactors.
It's become more difficult for nuclear power supporters to maintain the reactor meltdowns were caused by an unpredictable calamity, the tsunami. Reactors in earthquake-prone Japan are supposed to be able to withstand the impact of the worst quakes. But the "cozy relationship" between the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and regulators meant that upgraded standards weren't followed by Tepco, and the regulators didn't perform the necessary inspections.
The report placed blame for the tepid response on collusion between the company, the government and regulators, saying they had all “betrayed the nation’s right to safety from nuclear accidents.” Tepco “manipulated its cozy relationship with regulators to take the teeth out of regulations,” the report said.
The Fukushima meltdown gives three reasons to be wary of nuclear power plants. The unforeseeable calamity, like a tsunami, is always a possibility. The foreseeable calamity, like an earthquake, can't be prepared for with any degree of certainty. And even when the technology is available to make the plant safer -- not absolutely safe, but safer -- the collusion between big money and government can mean the necessary safeguards won't be put in place.