The Associated Press : June 21, 2016
Japanese utility admits to ‘coverup’ during Fukushima nuclear meltdown
The utility that ran the Fukushima nuclear plant acknowledged Tuesday its delayed disclosure of the meltdowns at three reactors was tantamount to a coverup and apologized for it.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) president Naomi Hirose’s apology followed the revelation last week that an investigation had found Hirose’s predecessor instructed officials during the 2011 disaster to avoid using the word “meltdown.”
“I would say it was a coverup,” Hirose told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”
TEPCO instead described the reactors’ condition as less serious “core damage” for two months after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, wrecked the plant, even though utility officials knew and computer simulations suggested meltdowns had occurred.
An investigative report released last Thursday by three company-appointed lawyers said TEPCO’s then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed officials not to use the specific description under alleged pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, though the investigators found no proof of such pressure.
The report said TEPCO officials, who had suggested possible meltdowns, stopped using the description after March 14, 2011, when Shimizu’s instruction was delivered to vice-president at the time, Sakae Muto in a memo at a televised news conference. Shimizu had a company official show Muto his memo and tell him the Prime Minister’s Office has banned the specific words.
Government officials also softened their language on the reactor conditions around the same time, the report said.
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