Abandoning Fukushima was never an option, nuclear operator says
Tokyo Electric Power denies it had considered abandoning the crippled power station, blaming poor communication with Japan's government for the claim.
Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 7:20 AM
TSUNAMI: The natural disaster claimed around 19,000 lives, but no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of radioactive leaks at Fukushima. (Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP)
The embattled operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant on Wednesday denied it had ever considered abandoning the crippled power station, blaming poor communication with Japan's government for the claim.
In its final report on the world's worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl, Tokyo Electric Power said contact with the office of then prime minister Naoto Kan had been insufficient.
This lack of communication may have led him to think the firm intended to leave the radiation-spewing reactors to their fate, it said.
"On March 14 (2011), as the condition worsened, we considered a temporary pullout of workers who were not directly relevant to the operation," said the report.
"But it was under the assumption that those needed for the operation would stay, and the company never intended an entire pullout," it said.
The rebuttal comes after an earlier independent inquiry — to which the company declined to give evidence — said Kan's single "biggest contribution" to the handling of the disaster had been to force TEPCO to keep staff on site.
Kan was lauded for threatening to break up the huge utility if it pulled its workers out as three reactors went into meltdown in the days after cooling systems were knocked offline by the huge tsunami of March 2011.
The panel said if the premier had not stuck to his guns, Fukushima would have spiralled further out of control, with catastrophic consequences.
But in its report on Wednesday, TEPCO denied ever having had such a plan.
"This issue possibly emerged due to insubstantial communication between the headquarters and the prime minister's office," the report said.
Radiation was spread over a large area of northeast Japan in the days after the tsunami struck, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes and rendering swathes of land unusable for agriculture.
Fifteen months on from the disaster, many areas remain uninhabitable, with scientists warning it could be three decades before some families can return.
The natural disaster claimed around 19,000 lives, but no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of radioactive leaks at Fukushima.
Copyright 2012 AFP Asian Edition
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