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“Lapses, coverups color public view of nuclear plants: Fukushima crisis latest in long line of fiascoes” via the Japan Times Online

Behind the escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a cozy relationship with government regulators, who are often willing to overlook safety lapses.

Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all.

In one case, workers hand-mixed uranium in stainless steel buckets, instead of processing it by machine, so the fuel could be reused, exposing hundreds of workers to radiation. Two later died.

“Everything is a secret,” said Kei Sugaoka, a former nuclear power plant engineer in Japan who now lives in California. “There’s not enough transparency in the industry.”

Sugaoka worked at the same utility that runs the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where workers are racing to prevent a full meltdown following the March 11 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami.

In 1989, Sugaoka received an order that horrified him: Edit out footage showing cracks in plant steam pipes in video being submitted to regulators.

Continue reading at “Lapses, coverups color public view of nuclear plants: Fukushima crisis latest in long line of fiascoes”.

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