Report: Japan plant operator ignored tsunami warnings
Mar 27, 2011, 12:28 GMT
Tokyo - A seismologist said he had warned two years ago that a massive tsunami might hit a nuclear power station in north-eastern Japan, but the operator of the now-stricken plant had ignored it, a news report said Sunday.
Yukinobu Okamura said Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of Fukushima 1 plant damaged by the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami, had insisted on the safety of its quake-resistance design and was reluctant to raise the assumption of possible quake damage, Kyodo news agency reported.
'It is odd to have an attitude of not taking into consideration indeterminate aspects,' Okamura, who heads the Active Fault and Earthquake Research Center, was quoted as saying.
Okamura issued his warning in 2009, based on his study since 2004 of the traces of a major tsunami believed to have swept away about 1,000 people in the year 869 after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake.
His research showed that the tsunami had struck a wide range of the coastal regions of north-eastern Japan, the same region hit by this month's disasters, Kyodo said.
The country is facing a grave nuclear crisis since the earthquake and tsunami struck the plant. Its cooling functions failed and radioactive materials were released. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from surrounding areas.
The operator has repeatedly said that the March 11 tsunami was 'beyond the scope of the assumption.'
The death toll stood at 10,489 on Sunday, while 16,621 people were listed as missing, the National Police Agency said.
Meanwhile, it was reported that TEPCO head, Masataka Shimizu, had temporarily stepped down from his duties due to 'overwork' during the crisis.
The Jiji Press news agency quoting unnamed sources said that Shimizu left the crisis centre at the firm's headquarters on March 16 on doctors orders and had taken up residence in other rooms of the building.
According to the report, he has since recovered and has returned to the crisis centre. It also stated that Shimizu had provided instructions concerning the crisis even during his absence.
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