this post is in progress. Not finished.
I am again going to contrast the statements made by Barry Brook in regard to the tsunami defences at Fukushima Daiichi with the facts as presented by Mark Willacy. These facts are published in Willacy’s book, “Fukushima – Japan’s tsunami and the inside story of the nuclear meltdowns”, Willacy, M., Pan Macmillan, copyright 2013, Mark Willacy.
An interesting aspect of the work of Barry Brook is this: The views expressed by Barry are very frequently attributed by Barry to people who are, according to Barry, experts in nuclear industry. I have heard Barry’s public broadcasts in which Barry makes this attribution. I have not heard Barry give the names of his advisors and friends in the nuclear industry. However it is extremely likely Barry is correct in his attributions. Barry’s statements of opinions and claimed facts can reasonably be assumed to have been provided to Barry by unnamed – as far as I am aware – experts in the nuclear industry. The credibility of Barry statements ride therefore upon the credibility of the nuclear industry.
Of course it is no surprise to hear Barry Brook mirror the statements of nuclear experts from around the world in 2011. The narrative of the global nuclear industry as broadcast by the mass media and the narrative provided by Barry Brook were, as I recall, mutually re-affirming.
Here again is a selected, partial transcript of Barry Brook’s Australian ABC TV interview (please watch the complete interview at the youtube link below) :
“Prof. Brook: “I think they (events) show the vulnerability of any human infrastructure to the forces of nature. Especially when they are unleashed with such fury as they were with that massive earthquake, the largest one to hit Japan in recorded times, and a 10 metre tsunami. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any infrastructure along a coastline like that to survive an event like that. But what it does highlight is that decisions were made back in the ‘60s, when that nuclear power plant was planned and built, they did not anticipate the scale of the natural disaster that occurred here.”
Prof. Brook: “They predicted up to a 6.5 metres tsunami and protected against that. But of course, as events turned out, the tsunami was even bigger than that. The tsunami washed over the plant. It seems like it damaged the diesel generators that were supplying backup power . There was a chain of diesel generators in fact, each one a redundant generator for the one before it. All of those were destroyed by the tsunami. The fuel tanks that would supply the diesel for many days for them seemed to be washed away. And the emergency cooling water as well was also damaged such that they ended up having to use sea water to cool it. The design of the 40 year old plant actually survived the earthquake. They were designed to survive an earthquake 7 times that what they were hit by and yet they survived and it was the tsunami that got them.”
Prof Brook: “I think it’s clear that the risk that the tsunami faced and the fact that all of the redundant generators were wiped out in one blow suggests that there was not enough prudent forethought for that risk. And in any sort of major accident in any industry there’s a period of introspection afterwards. Looking at what went wrong. Just like in anything in our lives. And trying to take the salient lessons and use that in future is a …I see the announcements of governments around the world to re-look at the safety of their current nuclear power plants. That’s an eminently sensible thing to do because you can look at all of the contingencies that they have allowed for and say well, what if the situation in Japan had happened to us, are we prepared? That’s learning from the lessons of history.” End quote. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFs_-8DtZvo ABC TV One Plus One: Barry Brook on nuclear power’s future after Fukushima, posted Published on 18 Mar 2011.
In a previous post I pointed out that Willacy had found that Dr.Yukinobu Okamura, the director of Japan’s Active Fault and Earthquake Research Centre, had, in 2007, found evidence in the geologic record that the Fukushima coast had been hit by massive tsunamis in its past. (Fukushima, page 26)
I also pointed out that in 2008 TEPCO engineers using simulations and calculations discovered that tsunamis as high as 15.7 metres were possible at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. (Fukushima, page 29)
This discovery by TEPCO engineers was suppressed by TEPCO management from the Japanese people and Japanese government until 7 March 2011, or 4 days before the 3/11 quake and tsunami disaster. (Fukushima, page 29)
On 24 June 2009 the NISA panel set up to examine nuclear reactor safeguards thoroughly dismissed Dr.Yukinobu Okamura’s report of his findings regarding a previous tsunami which reached 3 to 4 kms inland from precisely the point at which Fukushima Daiichi had been built. The panel dismissed Dr. Okamura’s warning that there remained a risk that further very large tsunamis could again occur at the same place. During an interview in 2012 with Dr. Okamura, Mark Willacy asked Dr. Okamura what exactly he had said to the panel in June 2009. At that point, Willacy reports in his book that the government advisors which had to be present during the Willacy-Okamura interview objected. Dr. Okamura was not allowed to answer the question. This was 2012, at a stage when the world nuclear industry was promoting itself as open and honest. However, Willacy writes that the minutes of the 24 June 2009 NISA were open documents. In the research phase of his preparation for the interview, Willacy had asked to see the minutes and NISA had obliged. It is not by the efforts of the nuclear industry or its advocates that the world can know what happened at that meeting. It is due to the actions of Mark Willacy, an ABC journalist and expert on Japan. All it took was an open mind, a search for the truth and a lot of work. See Fukushima, pages 99 to 101. Willacy includes copious text from the minutes of 24 June 2009 in his book. Dr. Okamura’s findings were discounted completely, his warning of a huge tsunami being due ignored by the panel. A leading opponent of Dr. Okamura being the TEPCO representative (named Mr. Nishimura) on the panel of 2009. Not forgetting that since 2008 TEPCO management had been busy suppressing THE SAME CONCLUSION of grave risk of 15 metre tsunamis hitting the Fukushima coast, made by TEPCO’s own engineers using simulations and mathematics. I wonder where those engineers are now. I wonder at what threats were made to them in order to keep them silent.
How is that as an indicator for the credibility of the nuclear industry? A potent one in my opinion.
However, TEPCO engineers and Dr. Okamura were not the only experts to warn of massive – 15 metre plus – tsunamis hitting Fukushima Daiichi.
Mr. Willacy found more experts and interviewed them. And it turned out that for years nuclear authorities had tried to hide these suppressed but qualified people. If they were kangaroo experts talking about quakes and tsunamis, fair enough, but actually these people were and are experts in the field of tsunamis and earthquakes.
And it begs the question: how many people died as a result of the tsunami inland from the Fukushima Daiichi NPP simply because nuclear authorities (and a national government beholden to them or in thrall of them, or trusted them), suppressed technical information from 2008 on and failed to act upon this accurate information? The answer shocks the experts who were suppressed and fills them with grief to this day. 20,000 people or more died due to the suppression of the facts and the suppression of the experts by TEPCO management and a national government too impotent and fawning to conduct vigorous oversight of that lying and suppressive and oppressive industry.
Well might a kangaroo expert in Tasmania continue to defend the nuclear industry. Few in the actual know would though. In my opinion.
Willacy: “You must be disappointed that no one took your research seriously?…”
Dr. Okamura: “Of course it is. Not only for the nuclear power plant but for the 20,000 people who were killed….I think they could have reduced the death toll and saved some lives. But they failed to do so in time. I am extremely sorry and it is a shame.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 104.)
The claim made by Barry Brook in support of the allegedly “unforeseen” size of the 2011 tsunami look to me to be as scientific as the findings of a Vampire Convention in the Barr Smith library at Adelaide Uni. Though, as I read Willacy’s book, it became clear that there is indeed an Underworld.
Willacy also interviewed a Professor of Seismology (University of Tokyo) named Kunihiko Shimazaki. In 2002 this Professor forecast waves more than 10 metres were a danger at Fukushima. Prof Shimazaki was also President of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction in Japan. The warning was given to a Japanese Cabinet committee. The Earthquake Research Committee held monthly meetings and Prof. Shimazaki headed an important sub committee to study the probability of future quakes and their locations. The Professor researched history of earthquakes in Japan. The Professor found that no one accepted that a large quake could occur at Fukushima. The Professor alerted the committees that a “huge” tremor could occur anywhere off the Fukushima coast. Attended by a huge tsunami. Professor Shimazaki predicted that a quake and tsunami the size of the 1896 quake was a danger to Fukushima. That 1896 quake was magnitude 8 plus and the tsunami waves were up to 38 metres high. The professor had retired by the time Mark Willacy had interviewed him, and so no government officials were present to control the interview. Prof. Shimazaki was free to speak his mind.
In July 2002 the Earthquake Research Committee paper, which warned that a quake and large tsunami, according to Shimazaki’s research, could impact Fukushima. However the published version of the report contained an additional paragraph the committee did not author or authorise. The additional paragraph claimed the report was limited in, effectively, geologic evidence which could be used as evidence. The unauthorised paragraph warned against using the report as the basis for disaster preparedness. Willacy gives the source for this in reference 36, being “The Great Tsunami Had Been Foreseen, But Not Been Included in Disaster Design”, Kagaku science journal, vol. 81, No. 10, October 2011, pp. 1002-06. This source by title alone shows the flagrant disregard for the tenants of “research first, speak later” shown by those actually ill informed non experts or experts out of relevant field (Kangaroos are not quakes nor tsunamis Barry. Stick to ‘Roos mate) who claim the quake and tsunami were unforeseeable. 2002 is not the earliest date of such a prediction, observation or expectation made by experts and historians.
2003 saw Prof. Shimazaki speak at the first meeting of the government’s Disaster Management Council. This council formed government disaster policy. He urged the council to study the Jogan earthquake of 869 and warned the Japanese Trench could generate earthquakes anywhere along Japan’s Pacific coast. This information was rejected by the council. It ran counter to the accepted views as the council knew of no earthquakes off Fukushima. The Professor told Willacy “That’s their logic. But that’s not seismology.” (Fukushima, page 107). In 2004 Prof. Shimazaki again warned the controllers of the Earthquake Research Committee that Fukushima’s coast was exposed to the threat of waves of more than 10 metres. Willacy writes that the professor was scoffed at and the committee moved to have his warning dismissed. “Shimazaki complained that he was ignored to save TEPCO some money”. (Willacy, Fukushima, page 107, reference 37, being: Martin Fackler, “Nuclear Disaster in Japan was avoidable, Critics Contend”, The New York Times, 9 March 2012, available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/10/world/asia/critics-say-japan-ignored-warnings-of-nuclear-disaster.html
In order to alert the public, Prof. Shimazaki tried to make his findings public. However, government officers of the Disaster Management Committee requested that the Ministry not to make them public. Of the this, the Professor told Willacy “This is really unusual. I didn’t know what TEPCO done. I didn’t understand.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 107).
Willacy writes: “On 3 March 2011 – eight days before the tsunami crashed into Fukushima Daiichi – a secret meeting was held between senior civil servants from the Education and Science Ministry (the ministry in charge of the Earthquake Research Committee) and three nuclear power companies with reactors on the expanse of the Pacific coast in question: TEPCO, the Tuhoku Electric Company and the Japan Atomic Power Company. The utilities wanted the committee’s report watered down. “We didn’t know at the time about this meeting, it was a secret,” said Professor Shimazai. But since then he has seen the official notes of this furtive gathering. “The bureaucrats explained what would be made public in our report. Some TEPCO engineers asked them to change it.”…
“What would be made public was the possibility that a gigantic tsunami….could be triggered off Fukushima…… TEPCO and two other nuclear companies wanted the language softened. The power utilities did not want to give people the “misunderstanding” that massive earthquakes like Jogan had happened in the past. The bureaucrats blindly obeyed, promising to ‘do something so it may not induce such misunderstanding”….”So there was a subtle change made, but it watered our report down.” said Professor Shimazaki. “It made it better for TEPCO. (Willacy, Fukushima, page 108 reference 38 “Jogan quake report worried utilities
Tsunami alert softened days before 3/11”, Japan Times, FEB 27, 2012 at : https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/02/27/national/tsunami-alert-softened-days-before-311/#.W8I0x8dR1n4 )
Nuclear advocates including Barry Brook broadcast their learned opinion of the rationality, knowledge and intelligence of the nuclear industry. As shown by the statements above, although TEPCO engineers came to the same conclusions about the vulnerability of Fukushima NPP to massive quakes and tsunamis in 2008 as qualified experts in the field of quakes and tsunami, throughout the period March 2011, TEPCO continually attempted to muzzle anyone who tried to express the truth – even when expressed in appropriate channels. Total control of information was compelled in the matter of publication of truth to the general public. The nuclear industry wanted the public to believe that such a massive had not ever occurred at any time previously. But of course, it had. Which is precisely the knowledge base the scientists confirmed in the field, 3 – 4 km inland from Fukushima. And TEPCO knew it and did not want the public to know. The qualified scientists, so abused by the nuclear from 2002 onward, knew a massive quake and tsunami was over due off the Fukushma coast.
Far from being rational, scientific, intelligent, the actions of the nuclear industry in these regards attest, in my opinion, to the industry’s profound moral and ethical disabilities. It would be only human to convey this same profound disability to the industry’s independent advocates. There is no evidence though that Prof. Brook is of the same nature as the nuclear industry heads whose actions and lackings and arrogance and disregard for life, health and safety are so firmly described by Willacy. Prof. Brook is probably, in my opinion, clearly very inadequate when he researches things such as nuclear industry. He claims academic privilege when he communicates his mere opinions related to a field he possesses no training or little training or qualifications in. He can’t have it both ways. The privilege which springs from his actual qualifications may give him status in other things on campus. Away from the lecture theatre though, his opinions of the nature of nuclear industry have zero academic weight. He possesses one vote in this democracy. So do I. “I’m an academic and therefore I am right” does not wash with me. I’m too old with too many memories of evidence to the contrary of that one. Such academic arrogance has cost countless lives down through the ages. They sail their allegedly unsinkable views as if they were the crew of the Titanic prior to the famous and inevitable event. Reality is no respecter of anyone.
“Just days before the Great East Japan Earthquake, a government panel softened the wording of a report warning that a massive tsunami could strike northeastern Japan after three utilities with nuclear power plants begged it to do so, it has been learned.
According to interviews and documents made available Saturday, staff from Tokyo Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Power Co. asked the secretariat of the Earthquake Research Committee to alter the draft of the report at a meeting on March 3, 2011.
The report suggested a massive tsunami similar to the one triggered by the Jogan Earthquake in 869 could be spawned off Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, they said.
A final version of the report has yet to be released in light of the earthquake and tsunami that actually hit the region eight days later, but some members of the committee called the revelation “unbelievable.”
The three utilities asked the secretariat in the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry to change the wording to avoid giving people the “misunderstanding” that massive quakes similar to the Jogan quake actually occurred in the past.
In reply, the secretariat told the three utilities, “We’re not changing the context but we’re going to do something so it may not induce such misunderstanding.”
A few days later the ministry revised the draft. The reworded version said “further study” is required to decide if massive quakes similar to the Jogan quake took place because “appropriate data are insufficient.”
Japan Times, 27 Feb, 2012, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/02/27/national/tsunami-alert-softened-days-before-311/#.W8I0x8dR1n4 (partial quote).
Denial of reality is not the sign of rational behaviour. The tsunami was NOT unforeseen, as claimed by ignorant industry advocates, it had been warned of in the modern era by qualified specialist researchers since 2002. And from about 869 in the official Japanese governmental records, which remain preserved and consulted by scholars.
What happens to researchers and scholars who do not toe the nuclear industry line is clearly described in Willacy’s book. And it is a travesty of corporate and governmental behaviour.
“The bureaucrats say they didn’t change any facts. But they watered it down. The earthquake (eight days later) show that, said Shimazaki…It was a harsh lesson for the professor about the realpolitik of nuclear safety, and a masterclass in the Machiavellian double dealing by the bureaucrats running the committee.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 109)
Willacy reports that an hour into the interview the Professor became upset, and appeared to be fighting back tears.
“Maybe I might have behaved differently and told people directly, so I could have saved people,” he said. “….This caused the loss of many people’s lives. So, so many. Almost 20,000.” “A year after the 2011 disaster, Shimazaki was fired as a member of the Earthquake Research Committee. One of Japan’s most eminent, and oracular, seismologists was off the team.” (Willacy, Fukushima, page 109, 110.)
Professor Shimazaki had been fighting to present his findings and have them accepted since 2002. His findings had been effectively suppressed by the industry and its captive government until the story broke in 2012. The tragic events of March 2011 at Fukushima have a human element. Had work on appropriate tsunami defences commenced in 2002 they would have been completed years before the disaster. Which may very well not have involved a nuclear disaster at all, and which may well have saved lives up and down the coast. And Prof. Shimazaki was one of a number of similarly muzzled and isolated qualified people attempting to warn of the very same hazard. Not to the liking of the nuclear industry, these experts remained isolated and discredited until after the disaster which proven them to be correct. From 2008 TEPCO knew them to be correct due to its own studies. From the first modern warnings in 2002, until the day of the disaster in 2011, TEPCO had spent nine years doing nothing with scientific and technical knowledge it knew to be true and correct. Doing nothing but mistreating and thwarting the scientists who independently had found the truth. These scientists had spent the same period of time trying to warn industry, government and the public. The industry would have none of it. It will likely be a long, long time before all that government and industry knew about the risk of quake and tsunami to Fukushima Daiichi and other plants comes out. Important people will have to have died of old age before the full accounting will be permitted to take place.
Not rational, but that’s the way it is done.