Shoddy safety practices standard in Japan’s nuclear industry

If you want to understand the response of the Japanese government and Tepco to the Fukushima disaster, I can’t recommend strongly enough reading Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan (9780809039432): Alex Kerr: Books.

The lack of preparation for emergency, habitual lying and coverup, and government-corporate collusion are have been standard operating procedure in Japan for many years. There was a major incident at the nuclear facility in Tokai, Japan (Tokaimura nuclear accident) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia in 1999.

“three workers were preparing a small batch of fuel for the Jōyō experimental fast breeder reactor, using uranium enriched to 18.8% with the fissionable radionuclide known as U‑235 (with the remainder being the non-fissile U‑238). It was JCO’s first batch of fuel for that reactor in three years, and no proper qualification and training requirements appear to have been established to prepare those workers for the job. At around 10:35 a.m., a precipitation tank reached critical mass when its fill level, containing about 16 kg of uranium, reached about 40 litres”

A criticality incident…”The cause of the accident was said to be “human error and serious breaches of safety principles”, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

According to Kerr, “Tokai’s nuclear plant had not repaired its safety equipment for more than seventeen years” prior to this incident. Further “The workers used a secret manual prepared by…managers that bypassed safety regulations”.


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