Fukushima Could Have Been Prevented via The New York Times

On March 11, 2011, a massive tsunami inundated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan causing the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Over 300,000 people were evacuated and a vast swath of land will be unusable for decades. The cleanup could run into hundreds of billions of dollars. Unsurprisingly, critics of nuclear power have seized upon the accident to argue that because nature is unpredictable, nuclear power is simply too risky.

One year later, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that the combined earthquake and tsunami that precipitated the Fukushima accident was not an “act of God” or Japan’s bad luck. The potential risks of tsunamis to nuclear power plants are well understood and a set of international standards has been developed to mitigate those risks.

Yet, despite Japan’s history of tsunamis, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear regulator, did not apply those standards. It failed to review studies of tsunami risks performed by the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco. It also failed to ensure the development of tsunami-modeling tools compliant with international standards.

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