The Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), it seems, had been advised as early as two years ago to create a frozen-soil shield barrier to prevent groundwater contamination at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. But it totally ignored the proposal, citing company profitability and sustainability as excuses.
Discussions about the necessity to immediately create a barrier to block groundwater began as early as a month after the fateful March 2011 tsunami lashing against Fukushima plant, according to Charles Casto, a representative of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
"It was obvious to us that there was great deal of groundwater intrusion into the plant, and we shared that with the Japanese government," he told Reuters.
"At the time, they didn't believe there was a significant amount of groundwater getting into the plant."
But Tepco opposed the recommendation, claiming the creation of the barrier wall will give rise to investor speculation of impending bankruptcy because it remained uncertain if the proposal was indeed workable.
"Cost wasn't the only reason for not moving ahead," Yoshikazu Nagai, a spokesman, said.
Ultimately, two months after in June 2011, Tepco, in a memo, was able to persuade the Japanese government to refrain making an announcement gearing towards the creation of the barrier wall.
"There is a strong possibility that the market will conclude that we are moving a step closer toward insolvency or headed in that direction," the memo said, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Suffice to say, Tepco acted only on "to protect corporate interests," Tetsu Nozaki, the chairman of the Fukushima fisheries federation, said.
Fast forward to two years after, and the radiation contamination around Fukushima has gone out of bonds. Tepco could no longer contain it that the Japanese government already had to step in.
One of the present-day solutions being flaunted is to make to underground walls by freezing the soil. "It was the very same solution offered two years ago and which Tepco managed to hinder," said Sumio Mabuchi, a former senior government official from the Democratic Party of Japan. An aide to then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, he was the one in charge of the plan for the government's side to haul up the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail: