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“Japan’s record of nuclear cover-ups and accidents” via New Scientist

Update 21 March 2011: It has now emerged that, in the run-up to the Japanese earthquake, the Tokyo Electric Power Company failed to carry out several scheduled inspections at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant. Thirty-three pieces of equipment were not inspected, including a backup power generator for reactor 1. Japan’s nuclear watchdog, NISA, says it was unaware of the lapses.

With the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant still crippled in the aftermath of last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, questions are being raised about the preparedness of its operator, the Toyko Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Why, for instance, were the diesel motors supposed to power the cooling system in an emergency so vulnerable to flooding?

As this timeline shows, the readiness of Japan’s reactors to survive major seismic events has been a growing concern. What’s more, the nation’s entire industry – not just TEPCO – has an undistinguished history of nuclear accidents and a poor record for transparency when things go wrong.

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