Investigations were also conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD.These analyses chiefly focused on the impact of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami on the nuclear power plant, the way the crisis was managed by the operator and the authorities, and on the cooperation between those onsite (emergency services) and offsite (Tepco staff).One can only wonder about the decisions Yoshida had to make between March 11 and 15, 2011, to avoid the worst.
Serious failings were attributed to Tepco, which was unable to prevent a nuclear meltdown and subsequent explosions.
A rare bright point was the heroism of those working on the ground, who risked their own lives to avert an even greater disaster.
Calling Fukushima a “made in Japan” disaster focuses attention on the failures of a socio-technical system apparently disconnected from industry good practices and the norms of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Moreover, its extraordinary scale allows it to be filed in the same historic category as another “aberrant” accident, Chernobyl.
The 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake triggered a 15-meter tidal wave, which hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant approximately 45 minutes later.
The plant’s power was knocked out and the backup generators crippled.The latter was attributed to gross Soviet negligence, implicitly reinforcing a utopian vision of a safe and reliable nuclear industry.But do the nature of the Fukushima disaster and the specificity of its causes really make it an exception?The Fukushima investigators all followed a pre-set formula, apparently designed solely to confirm hypotheses that would put events down to purely technical causes.Yet Yoshida responded to the investigators’ questions from an entirely different point of view, attributing his decisions and actions to the brutal struggle between men (himself and his staff) and technology or, more precisely, the machines (the reactors) that had suddenly gone out of control.(A partial English translation exists, made available by the Japanese daily , but it proved to be inaccurate on several crucial points, and is highly controversial.) Given that France generates 76% of its electricity with nuclear power, the task of a complete translation should have been undertaken by a nuclear-sector operator.None volunteered, however, no doubt asserting that all had already been said and settled.Franck Guarnieri does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.On March 11, 2011, a nuclear disaster struck Japan.During the Japanese government’s investigation, Fukushima Daiichi plant manager Masao Yoshida was interviewed for more than 28 hours, over 13 sessions.His testimony was only made public in September 2014 after critical reporting by Japanese media.