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Japanese Utility Admits For First Time That Nuclear Disaster Was Avoidable

Smoke rises from Unit No. 3 of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Smoke rises from Unit No. 3 of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In a dramatic reversal, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted for the first time that if it had fixed known safety issues, Japan's nuclear disaster following the March 2011 tsunami could have been avoided.

The Associated Press says the utility company made the admission in a statement released Friday. The AP reports the company said it delayed implementing the safety measures because of political, economic and legal pressures.

The AP adds:

"'When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance,' TEPCO's internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said in the statement. 'Could necessary measures have been taken with previous tsunami evaluations? It was possible to take action' by adopting more extensive safety measures, the task force said.

"The task force said TEPCO had feared efforts to better protect nuclear facilities from severe accidents such as tsunamis would trigger anti-nuclear sentiment, interfere with operations or increase litigation risks."

Before this statement, TEPCO had stood by its preparations.

Now, this statement comes months after an independent investigation that came to the same conclusion: The crisis was preventable.

Here's what Korva wrote back in July:

"The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation says the plant couldn't stand up to the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. It was unprepared to face a major disaster - and government regulators and the Japanese utility that ran it knew for years that the plant wouldn't make it through a crisis."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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