by Will Davis
In a move that has relieved some observers but angered others, a Tokyo District court has found three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) not guilty on the charges of not having prepared the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant against the tsunami that occurred in 2011.
Found not guilty were former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata; former TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto; and former TEPCO Vice President Ichiro Takekuro. The three had, prior to this present trial, endured two different attempts to indict them personally for the same charges in 2013 and 2015 when in each instance the Tokyo prosecutors’ office declined to take action against them following requests for indictment from two citizens’ panels. The third action by a citizens’ panel, in early 2016, carried with it a mandate for prosecution which was put into action immediately.
Prior to the accident, TEPCO had been notified by at least one subsidiary company as well as various other outside groups that the threat of tsunami on the Eastern coast of Japan was greater than assumed, and that there was threat of a tsunami higher than had been prepared for – roughly, 30 feet. TEPCO elected not to alter the preparations at the site, feeling that the protection was adequate; it is on these grounds that the continued re-attempts at prosecution have occurred.
Much was made at the time and since about the placement of the emergency diesels low in the plants, at the level of bedrock – causing them to be flooded and useless when the plant was inundated with water (and a great deal of debris) from the tsunami. The fact is that the diesels were mandated by Japan’s regulator to be mounted on bedrock for earthquake protection when the plant was built; roof mounted, “air cooled” diesels were added to the
by Will Davis