Information released today by Greenpeace Japan shows that the builders and suppliers of nuclear reactors were afraid of being held financially responsible for any accidents they might cause from the outset of the nuclear energy era in Japan.
A freedom of information request made by us has turned up documents from 1960 that show nuclear companies pressured the Japan Atomic Energy Commission to make sure they were exempted from all responsibility for a nuclear accident, except in the case of a deliberate act. The Commission was only too happy to agree.
But what if a nuclear company is grossly negligent? It needn’t worry. The Commission’s documents say:
"...we decided to delete 'gross negligence' to not make suppliers feel uneasy"
We wouldn’t want nuclear suppliers to feel uneasy, would we? But uneasy is the way the Japanese people must be feeling when they see the size of the costs of the Fukushima disaster that they are now having to pay.
And this is a state of affairs that continues to this day.
What this proves is the nuclear industry has never had any faith in the safety of its nuclear reactors. If it did, why would it have worked so hard to be protected from its responsibilities?
It’s an admission that nuclear power is inherently unsafe and that the nuclear industry is not able and willing to deal with a major accident. They’ve known this from the very beginning.
We’re seeing what all this means right now at Fukushima, as its owner and operator, TEPCO, is unable to fund the clean-up. GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, the big companies that all built reactors at Fukushima based on a flawed GE reactor design, have not paid a cent to help TEPCO and have done little to nothing to help the victims of the disaster.
So, Japan’s taxpayers have to step in to pay the billions upon billions of yen needed to deal with the industry’s gross negligence.
The companies that built and supplied the melted-down and leaking Fukushima reactors are allowed to avoid all responsibility for the carnage the reactors have caused. They profit while the people of Japan pay.
This is not a scandal unique to Japan, however.
Greenpeace Canada has copies of letters written to Canada’s government by GE Hitachi (GEH), Babcock and Wilcox, and Westinghouse, all demanding to be let off the hook in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. In its letter, GEH says it wants to avoid what happened to Union Carbide after the disaster at its chemical plant in Bhopal, India. Union Carbide was sued in US courts. GEH wants indemnification from nuclear liability, from being sued the way Union Carbide was.
We know who really needs “an indemnification from nuclear liability”. Us, the people, who have to live with nuclear power and all its dangers and who have its massive costs forced upon us. The nuclear industry has put its own interests and those of its shareholders above the people it is supposed to be serving.
The nuclear industry has been allowed to write its own rules for more than 50 years, as the documents we’ve made public show. It’s time those rules were scrapped and the nuclear industry disqualified from the game it’s been playing with all our lives.
This must stop. Right now.