Japanese utility takes blame for nuclear crisis

TOKYO — The utility that operates Japan’s crippled atomic plant said Friday that it deserves most of the blame for the country’s nuclear crisis.

In its strongest remarks about its own shortcomings, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) acknowledged in a report that it was not adequately prepared to deal with the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeastern Japan in March 2011. The twin disasters cut power at Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing meltdowns at three reactors. Massive radiation leaks contaminated air, water and soil around the plant and forced about 160,000 residents to evacuate.

Ancient Roman costumed groups of people parade in the ancient areas of Colosseum , Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum to celebrate the festivities of Christmas of Rome, in Rome, Monday, April 21, 2014. Legend says that Rome was founded by Romulus in 753 BC in an area surrounded by seven hills. Every year the city celebrates the Birth of Rome with parades and fighting in costume, re-enacting the deeds of the great ancient Roman Empire. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

People in costume celebrate Christmas in Rome on Monday.

Photos of the day

Christmas of Rome, Ukrainian journalist detained by militants, White House Easter egg roll and more.

More world coverage

Kiev orders military moves in eastern Ukraine

Kiev orders military moves in eastern Ukraine

The government acts after a local politician supporting Ukrainian unity is kidnapped and killed.

Q&A: Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun interviews President Obama

Q&A: Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun interviews President Obama

“America is and always will be a Pacific nation,” the president wrote in response to questions.

Sherpas leave Everest; some expeditions nix climbs

Sherpas leave Everest; some expeditions nix climbs

The government quickly said top tourism officials would fly to base camp to negotiate with the Sherpas.

“Our safety culture, skills and ability were all insufficient,” Tepco President Naomi Hirose told a news conference. “We must humbly accept our failure to prevent the accident, which we should have avoided by using our wisdom and human resources to be better prepared.”

The report said Tepco’s equipment and safety provisions were inadequate and that the meltdowns should have been avoided. It also said the company was complacent about safety measures and had delayed upgrading them.

The acknowledgment is a major reversal from the utility’s initial investigation report, in June 2012. In that report, Tepco maintained that the tsunami was mostly to blame for the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, in Ukraine, in 1986. It defended its crisis management and criticized what it characterized as excessive interference from the prime minister’s office.

Following a public outcry, the company launched an internal reform task force, led by Hirose, to reinvestigate the crisis. The task force was overseen by a five-member committee of outside experts, including former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief Dale Klein.

 
Read what others are saying