On her MSNBC program Rachel Maddow detailed the recent history of lies and cover ups of incidents and accidents in Japan’s nuclear power industry. Maddow said, “To our understanding of an already stressful situation in Japan, we can also add Japan’s history frankly of scandals and cover-ups related to nuclear power and safety.”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Rachel Maddow began, “At the news conference on the third explosion at the Japanese reactor, reporters were visibly angry with the company’s explanation of what happened with that explosion. To our understanding of an already stressful situation in Japan, we can also add Japan’s history frankly of scandals and cover-ups related to nuclear power and safety.”
She then listed the numerous recent cover ups in Japan of nuclear power incidents, “In 1995 in Japan when a reactor caught fire, the government run agency in charge of the reactor tried to cover up how bad the fire was by releasing a doctored video of the accident. In 2002, at TEPCO the company that owns the plants currently in crisis, the president at TEPCO and four other executives were forced to quit when it was revealed that TEPCO had been falsifying safety records at nuclear plants for years, dating back to the 1980s. Another power plant operator was force today shut down a reactor in 2007 after they acknowledged they covered up 15 minutes of year disaster in 1999 when an accident involving three fuel rods caused an out of control nuclear chain reaction.”
Maddow concluded, “The money quote in that investigation was this this, it happened around two or three a.m. people probably thought no one would notice. This crisis is, of course, now unfolding inch different circumstances, but some of the reporters’ anger at that press conference reflect the suspicion and frustration that we are still dependent for much of the crucial information in events like this on sources that have a vested interest in keeping us calm and deflecting suspicion and anger from themselves. It is probably unavoidable and it is frustrating as all heck.”
This is exactly why everyone should take TEPCO’s statements about the severity of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi with a large degree of skepticism. It is in TEPCO’s financial interest to do their best to minimize the danger in the current crisis. When you combine this with the long history of lies and cover ups in the Japanese nuclear power industry, it is obvious that we should not believe much of what they have to say.
Greg Pallast wrote in a recent piece that TEPCO’s claim that the radiation that is leaking from Fukushima is harmless is borderline criminal, “It would be irresponsible for me to estimate the number of cancer deaths that will occur from these releases without further information; but it is just plain criminal for the Tokyo Electric shoguns to say that these releases are not dangerous. Indeed, the fact that residents near the Japanese nuclear plants were not issued iodine pills to keep at the ready shows TEPCO doesn’t care who lives and who dies whether in Japan or the USA. The carcinogenic isotopes that are released at Fukushima are already floating to Seattle with effects we simply cannot measure.”
What blows my mind is that many Americans were willing to accept TEPCO’s statements about the crisis as fact. Did these same people accept BP’s statements about the Gulf oil spill at face value too? The Fukushima crisis and the BP oil spill share a common corporate desire to smother the truth in its crib. In the case of BP, we were lucky that their corporate criminal behavior did not endanger more lives besides the rig workers that they killed.
The situation is dire in Japan. Human lives are at stake, but TEPCO seems more concerned about doing PR damage control than saving the lives of the innocent. Unlike BP, TEPCO didn’t cause their crisis, but they are showing the same willingness as BP to sacrifice life to preserve a bit of their bottom line. It is said that the devil is in the details, but when it comes to corporate interests, it is the details that the devil chooses not to tell you that often prove fatal.