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Fukushima boss: 2011 disaster a ‘warning to the world’



The president of the company that owns and operated the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has said that the UK government should learn from the misjudgement that led to the facility’s meltdown in 2011.

Naomi Hirose, president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the company in charge of Fukushima, told the Guardian that Britain should be “prepared for the worst” as there is always a small probability that nuclear accidents will occur in exceptional circumstances.

We tried to persuade people that nuclear power is 100% safe. That was easy for both sides. Our side explains how safe nuclear power is. The other side is the people who listen and for them it is easy to hear OK, it’s safe, sure, why not?” he said.

But we have to explain, no matter how small a possibility, what if this [safety] barrier is broken? We have to prepare a plan if something happens.”

More than 150,000 people were evacuated from the area around Fukushima after a tsunami hit the region and caused an explosion at the plant. Radioactive material contaminated the sea, affecting fisheries. Hirose said that Tepco could have taken some measures to mitigate the impact of the meltdown, such as waterproof seals on doors in the reactor building.

He also said that countries pursuing nuclear projects should keep in mind all possible complications.

In October, the UK gave the green light to the construction of Hinkley Point C, the first new nuclear power station in 25 years, run by energy company EDF.

What happened at Fukushima was, yes, a warning to the world. The resulting lesson was clear: Try to examine all the possibilities, no matter how small they are, and don’t think any single counter-measure is foolproof. Think about all different kinds of small counter-measures, not just one big solution. There’s not one single answer”, Hirose said.

“We can share all the information, all the data we obtained, that we learned from this accident, and then hope that people will use the data and information to prevent the same thing happening.

Further reading:

No ‘going home plan’ for many Fukushima residents

Fukushima clean-up reaches critical point

Japan ramps up danger levels of Fukushima water leak

Japan declares ‘emergency’ over radioactive water spill at Fukushima nuclear plant

UK to build first nuclear plant in a generation, as Hinkley C is given go-ahead