Fukushima nuclear plant must be scrapped, says Naoto Kan

JAPANESE Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that the stricken nuclear plant at the centre of the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986 must be scrapped.

Kan told the Japanese Communist Party leader that the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant should be dismantled, Kyodo news reported.

And a report has slammed the plant’s disaster plan as woefully inadequate, including only one satellite phone and a single stretcher in case of an accident.

Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) disaster-readiness plans for Fukushima, which was devastated by Japan’s twin earthquake and tsunami disasters on March 11, were obtained by Wall Street Journal.

The documents, said the US financial daily, focused on smaller-scale accidents but held no information on how to confront extensive damage.

According to the Journal, the plans had no detail on outside firefighters from Tokyo, the national military force, or using US equipment to battle leaks and contain radiation, which all have been part of the response to the crisis.

“The disaster plan didn’t function,” said a former TEPCO official, quoted by the Journal. “It didn’t envision something this big.”

The revelations add to Japanese suspicion over TEPCO’s track record on safety issues surrounding Fukushima and attempts to cover them up.

In 2002 TEPCO admitted to falsifying safety reports which led to all 17 of its boiling-water reactors being shut down for inspection, including Fukushima. And in an eerily familiar event, a earthquake in 2007 paralysed its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant – the world’s biggest – and more radiation leaked than TEPCO initially acknowledged.

TEPCO later said it underestimated the potential impact of an earthquake on the facility.

Today Japanese officials were saying there no plans to widen an exclusion zone around the stricken plant, amid revelations that radiation levels in the sea near the plant had risen to a new high of 4,385 times the legal level.

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