TEPCO has known about the massive groundwater intrusion and leaking at the site since at least May of 2011. The company chose to do nothing out of fear the high cost ($1 billion USD) would cause investment markets to consider the company “bankrupt”. Contaminated water has leaked out of the plant for the last 2.5 years, TEPCO only admitted this in July of this year.
The government at the time allowed TEPCO to avoid clear admission of the problem and the need for the underground wall to help TEPCO avoid the financial repercussions. The underground steel wall was put into the long term projects category and then never done. Officials in the Japanese government cooperated with TEPCO and lied to the public to help TEPCO hide the existence of the leaks out of the plant and the urgent need for the underground wall.
When talk of the ice wall project began this year, officials in the government gave the impression the steel wall wasn’t done due to technical challenges rather than the reality, that TEPCO simply didn’t want to pay the costs. TEPCO recently bragged about “turning a profit” in recent months.
TEPCO also admitted today that their incompetence contributed to the nuclear disaster. This is unlikely to be any real admission or behavior change for the company. There have been talks out of TEPCO and the government agencies involved that TEPCO should be split into two companies. One to handle all the bad assets and the disaster and another to run their still functioning divisions and their nuclear plant at Kashiwazaki Kariwa. This would effectively allow TEPCO to walk away from the disaster with no repercussion for the company. Of course TEPCO doesn’t suggest an alternative such as selling off their power production and transmission divisions to cover their mess at Fukushima Daiichi.
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