UPDATE: Thanks to contributions from readers, and some hours of research, I found the answer to the question originally posed here (see original article below). The current governor of Fukushima Prefecture, Sato Yuhei, was the one who unilaterally gave TEPCO permission to use plutonium mixed fuel (MOX) in the Fukushima reactors in August of 2010. One of the conditions for granting permission was that the nuclear reactors be made more quake resistant. Obviously, that condition didn’t seem to have been met. Tsunamis (tidal waves) are often produced by earthquakes. It would seem logical that any plans to make sure that the reactors could withstand an earthquake would also factor in tsunami as well. But maybe I’m being nit-picky.
On the other hand, the president of TEPCO has insisted that “a tsunami like this was beyond our imagination.” He’s either lying or he’s an idiot or a lying idiot. A nearly 30 meter tsunami is not a matter of imagination, it’s a matter of record. It’s documented in English here at the The University of Southern California Tsunami Research Center. The Tsunami Research center writes: On July 12. 1993, a powerful earthquake west of Hokkaido in the Sea of Japan unleashed a tsunami that devastated nearby Okushiri Island. The peninsula was completely overtopped by the giant wave, to heights of over 10 m. (the largest recorded wave runup on the island was nearly 30 meters.)
The seawall near the Fukushima reactor was only 5 meters in height, yet TEPCO still placed the generators which were supposed to power the emergency cooling system in a low-lying area. It’s believed that when the tsunami came the generator rooms were flooded and rendered useless.
The plutonium mixed fuel, MOX, started being used within three months of Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato’s declaration. It’s kind of amazing that one governor can make that decision; I’m sure it’s a decision he is regretting.
THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Things have not been going well for TEPCO (東京電力）ever since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands of people and left thousand more missing. It shook up Japan and especially TEPCO seemed ill-prepared for it. In fact, the company has such a long history of negligence, labor abuse, incompetence, and subterfuge, that it’s not surprising the police are already investigating the firm for professional negligence resulting in injury and/or death.
What is surprising is that at least one of the reactors TEPCO was using plutonium mixed fuel when the earthquake hit. It’s a surprise because previous governor Eisaku Sato had reportedly rescinded the firm’s permission to use the dangerous materials. He took the permission away in September of 2002 when TEPCO’s cover-up of malfunctions at their plants had become national news. This is from a Japan Times story on September 9th, 2003.
TEPCo had planned to start using uranium-plutonium mixed oxide fuel at the No. 3 reactor, in line with the government’s plan to promote the MOX program as a key component of a nuclear fuel cycle. But governor Sato (Eisaku) said in September that he would rescind his earlier approval to accept the MOX program following the scandal. He noted that the conditions for the consent to go ahead with the project had “disappeared.”
When did this consent mysteriously reappear? TEPCO began using MOX in September of 2010. We know that. What we don’t know is who gave TEPCO permission to use MOX, when and why? Does the current governor, Yuhei Sato (佐藤雄平知事）know the details? Has anyone spoken to previous trouble-some governor Sato Eisaku? (佐藤栄佐久氏）He was forced out of power for allegedly being involved in political corruption. Former governor Sato has always claimed that the case against him was a frame-up, orchestrated by political powers and the prosecution. It’s probably just a wild coincidence but allegedly one of the prosecution team that made the case against the governor was recently arrested and prosecuted himself for forging evidence this year.
Almost makes you believe in conspiracy theories. Almost.
I can’t seem to find a newspaper article announcing that TEPCO had been given permission to began using plutonium at its reactors. We know they started using MOX before the earthquake. But when did they get permission? Who gave it to them? Perhaps, I’m just missing the right search word. If you, gentle reader, can find the announcement, let me know. Perhaps previous Fukushima Prefecture Governor Eisaku Sato never really rescinded permission. There are many possibilities. It would be nice to have the answer. It would be nice if someone asked TEPCO the question.