Home > Uncategorized > For the disastrous failure of ‘Disaster Memory’ at Fukushima, we must thank – surprise! – nuclear crony capitalism

For the disastrous failure of ‘Disaster Memory’ at Fukushima, we must thank – surprise! – nuclear crony capitalism

Science reporter Andrew Revkin, writing at NYT’s Dot Earth blog, can’t seem to get his head around the complete failure of Tokyo Electric, its suppliers (GE, Westinghouse, Hitachi etc.) and the Japanese government to consider the possibility that large tsunamis might hit the Fukushima coast  history: (emphasis added).

‘Disaster Memory’ and the Flooding of Fukushima

Over the weekend, I mused on a question that’s bothered me since I read Roger Bilham’s report on the great earthquake and tsunami of March 11: Given the history of devastating tsunamis not far away, how could it have taken until 2006 for the word “tsunami” to show up in government guidelines related to the  Fukushima nuclear complex? (For instance, in 1933 a tsunami more than 90 feet high  erased coastal villages along part of the same stretch of  Honshu coast devastated on March 11.)

Revkin quotes from geologist Roger Bilham:

In hindsight it appears impossible to believe that nuclear power stations were located on a shoreline without recognizing the engineering difficulties attending prolonged immersion by a large tsunami. In 1896 a 33-meter high tsunami drowned the Sanriku coastline 200 kilometers to the north of Fukushima. A 23-meter wave surged on the same coast in 1933, and in 1993 a 30-meters wave swept over Okushira Island.

But to me, the puzzlement itself seems puzzling. I sent Andy the following tweet (emphasis added)

[email protected] Andy,as I emailed b4,there was so little ‘Disaster Memory’ at simply bc Govt absolved all from personal responsibility

Which I followed with this comment to his blog post: (emphasis added)

Andy,

This really is not so hard. The problems at Fukushima are just the latest manifestation of poor decision-making, resulting from pervasive, institutionalized risk-shifting, brought to us by LEAVE IT TO US, WE’LL HELP YOU! governments. The snowballing rot started with the creation by government of that form of human association known as ‘corporations’, whose shareholders are freed from any liability for the harm that corporate acts may cause others. That lack of personal liability eliminated a need to closely monitor risks, managers and employees.

Injured citizens have insisted that governments step into the breach, but bureaucrats and politicians are oddly susceptible to influence from those firms whose profits and competitive advantages may depend on government regulation.

Beyond ‘Nuclear Crony Capitalism’: Does state-created corporations mean we are stuck with a wonderfully confused ‘capitalist’ mess of socialized risk? – TT’s Lost in Tokyo http://bit.ly/gFfDlQ

“Rational Optimist” Matt Ridley blasts Japan’s “Nuclear Crony Capitalism,” fails to examine limited liability corps http://bit.ly/eCBbvW

Institutionalized moral hazard: Fun with Nuclear Power in Japan, or, prepare for a glowing twilight, with scattered fallout in the morning – TT’s Lost in Tokyo http://bit.ly/hvvWHU

Risk-Shifting,BP +now #Fukushima:Cliff Notes version of my stilted envirofascist view of corps+govt -TT’s Lost in Tokyo http://bit.ly/9oBkC7

Tom


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“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”
Richard Feynman

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