WikiLeaks cables suggest jeopardized seismic safety at Japan’s power plants

Thanks to the nuclear disaster in Japan, blame is now being thrown at government officials via WikiLeaks cables.

Numerous private reports released by WikiLeaks suggest that the Japanese government has underperformed in dealing with the safety of the country’s nuclear plants and their ability to survive earthquakes.

According to Russia Today, in December 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requested that Japan upgrade their standards for seismic safety of nuclear power stations, reports The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which sorted through the secret messages sent by the US embassy to Washington. Tokyo promised to do so, but it is not clear what actions have been taken.

Founder and editor in chief of the online magazine, Anthony Wile thinks that even with those warnings there was not much that Japan could do.

“I don’t think that they had any choice. At that stage of the game, the commitments had already been made. What could they do?” he said. “I don’t think they had any choice but to turn a blind eye and hope for the best. And perhaps that just didn’t work out too well.”

Wile also made sure to point out that such rescue missions aren’t exactly the agency’s mission, even though the IAEA is now sending that kind of message to the public.

“The IAEA is a promoter of nuclear power,” he stated. “The IAEA is not any more efficient in solving this problem than FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was in solving Hurricane Katrina’s problems in the US. These organizations exist primarily for the purposes of aiding and assisting multinational corporations to provide the solutions to developing and advancing nations who are sold on the nuclear power solution.”

Wile notes, that now there is nothing even the IAEA can do to avert a disaster. Thing are beyond anyone’s control.

“You can clearly see that the IAEA has absolutely no ability to deal with this problem, any more than the Japanese government has the ability to deal with this problem,” Wile concluded.

In separate message, an unnamed expert said Japan has edited its safety guides three times in the last 35 years.

In yet another message, US diplomats talk about the way the Japanese government resisted a court order to shut down a nuclear power plant over fears that the local population would be at risk for radiation exposure if an earthquake with a magnitude higher than 6.5 hit. The ruling was overturned in 2009.

One message quoted Taro Kono, a prominent member of Japan’s lower house, as stating that the Japanese Ministry of Economy had been lying about nuclear accidents and understating the cost and problems associated with the industry.

Yet another diplomatic message detailed concerns over cost reduction competition at the expense of safety among power-producing companies in Japan.

For more on other WikiLeaks cables, please see the following Pearltree.