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TEPCO Avoided Safety Measures for Fear of 'Adding Momentum to Anti-Nuclear Movements'

Fukushima operator admits disaster could have been avoided

Common Dreams staff

TEPCO worker (C) explains situation of stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to the journalists on February 28, 2012 (AFP Photo / Pool /Yoshikazu Tsuno)

Japanese nuclear utility company TEPCO admitted for the first time Friday that the Fukishima nuclear disaster could have been avoided had the company taken obvious and necessary precautions prior to the meltdown inducing Tsunami of March 2011.

"When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance," TEPCO's internal reform task force said in the statement. "It was possible to take action" by implementing sufficient safety measures, the task force said, but the steps were intentionally avoided by the company.

TEPCO added in their statement that they had been afraid that public sentiment would turn against nuclear power if the company had taken public precautions against natural disasters, those which would have subsequently acknowledged the dangers inherent in running a nuclear power plant within an earthquake prone region.

"There was concern that if new severe accident measures were implemented, it could spread concern in the siting community that there is a problem with the safety of current plants," the company stated, adding that any action might have added "momentum to anti-nuclear movements."

The company also said that the safety measure would have interfered with its day to day operations.

The statement, released following TEPCO's first internal reform committee meeting, revealed the first major reversal for the company, which has denied malpractice and defended its handling of the crisis since the tsunami hit.

As the region continues to struggle with the persistent radiation from the nuclear meltdown, and TEPCO battles to maintain safety at the power plant, the company also announced this week that radiation levels have reached severe heights inside the No. 1 reactor, reaching up to 11.1 sieverts per hour of radiation -- levels high enough to cause death after about 40 minutes of exposure.

As of now, workers cannot enter the containment vessel.

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