Archive for July 13th, 2012

by lizard

Last year, in March, an earthquake and tsunami shook and flooded the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, starting a chain reaction of events that still poses a serious threat to us (allegedly sentient) earth-bound organisms.

When I wondered if this was a 21st Century Chernobyl I wasn’t trying to be alarmist. There were explosions, talk of meltdowns and spent fuel rods, and very valid reasons for serious concern. The ensuing discussion was interesting, especially the comment that mocked the “hand wringing” in the US regarding nuclear power:

…the insane hand wringing being done by people in this country over nuclear power is driving me batshit crazy. NONE of our reactors are even remotely in the same situation as the ones in Japan and the odds of a 9.0 earthquake followed by a tsunami taking out one of our reactors is ludicrus.

The first thing I said in response to that comment was this:

one thing this country sucks at is regulating industry…

The implication being made with the first comment is that the “situation” was a direct result of the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami. My comment implies regulatory corruption is a factor to consider with nuclear power in the states.

Well, according to recent reports that the Fukushima disaster was man-made (Bloomberg) it looks like I was right to be concerned about regulation:

The Fukushima nuclear disaster was the result of “man-made” failures before and after last year’s earthquake, according to a report from an independent parliamentary investigation.

The breakdowns involved regulators working with the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to avoid implementing safety measures as well as a government lacking commitment to protect the public, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission said in the report.

The March 11 accident, which set off a wave of reactor safety investigations around the world, “cannot be regarded as a natural disaster,” the commission’s chairman, Tokyo University professor emeritus Kiyoshi Kurokawa, wrote in the report released yesterday in Tokyo. It “could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.”

The report dealt the harshest critique yet to Tokyo Electric (9501) and the government. The findings couldn’t rule out the possibility that the magnitude-9 earthquake damaged the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 1 reactor and safety equipment. This is a departure from other reports that concluded the reactors withstood the earthquake, only to be disabled when the ensuing tsunami slammed into the plant.

*

Here at 4&20, there’s been some good recent discussion about local and state regulations, off Wall Street banks, and NIMBY zoning battles.

While I’ve been learning about the scaled down mechanisms of state and city operation, I continue to watch the national spectacle unfold, and it’s insane.

Barclays and the LIBOR scandal is just the tip of the iceberg, and the Trans Pacific Partnership is a corporate coup in the making.

Regarding LIBOR, one trail of corruption leads directly to the Obama Administration, and its name is Timothy Geithner:

“In testimony last week before the British Parliament, former Barclays chief executive Robert E. Diamond said the bank had repeatedly brought to the attention of U.S. regulators — as well as U.K. regulators — the problems that the bank was experiencing in the Libor market.

“He said the bank’s warnings to regulators that Libor was artificially low did not lead to action. Barclays’ regulator in the United States is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which was run at the time by current Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.”

Regarding the TPP, Mark Engler’s piece at truth-out says it blatantly with his lead-in:

With recent revelations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, it is now safe to say that President Obama has surpassed George W. Bush as a champion of the flawed and offensive ideology of corporate globalization.

Yep. And we’ll get four more years of Obama’s corrosive neoliberalism because Mitt is a political amoeba, glomming on to whatever stock message the gullible right demands to hear.

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