Monday, February 27, 2012

Shades of Truth

Animated polarizer by Rogilbert via Wikipedia

“Always expect the worst.” That’s my mantra. It works well for me too. When things go bad, I’m never disappointed. When things go unexpectedly well, which fortunately they most often do, it’s like winning the lottery or finding loose change in the pocket of a seldom worn suit jacket. I’ve been told that all the worries that this bleak outlook on life causes is sure to cut my longevity short. The truth is I never thought I would live to this ripe old age as it is. So the way I see it, I’m way ahead of the game.

Today not even the dark tinted glasses through which I usually view the world could filter the shock waves from a disturbing story I spied in the morning paper. The tale,reported by the Kyodo news agency on February 25, tells how just days before 3/11 a government panel caved in to the wishes of TEPCO and two other nuclear power plant operators and revised a report warning of a possible massive tsunami in northeastern Japan. The facts of the story are, to borrow a quote from the Kyodo article, “unbelievable.”

For nearly a year the mantra of one of those companies and owner of the leaking atomic power plant in Fukushima, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), has been that “the scope of the tsunami was beyond any reasonable expectation.” It was a carefully crafted statement designed to absolve the company of any culpability for the nuclear nightmare in Fukushima that has awakened growing numbers of people around the world to the inherent dangers of atomic power. Following on the heels of an unbelievably devastating disaster of almost mythical proportions that swallowed Japan’s northeastern seaboard, that oft repeated statement from TEPCO seemed plausible. That is until now.

In their initial draft report the government’s Earthquake Research Committee, pointed to the possibility of a disaster similar in scale to the magnitude 8.3 Jogan Earthquake of 869 which is estimated to have taken nearly one thousand lives at a time when the population of the area was significantly less dense. Not only were TEPCO and other power companies aware of the possibility of a major tsunami hitting the region, a government body gave them a free hand in hiding that information from the public. While we may not have a way to measure deception, this recent revelation sure does make TEPCO’s earlier repeated statements seem almost as unbelievable as the magnitude of the disaster itself.

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