The International Atomic Energy Agency warned the Japanese two years ago that strong earthquakes would pose a “serious problem” for its nuclear power plants. In addition, the plant’s safety rules were out of date, an agency official said in December 2008, The Daily Telegraph
in London reported.
The information was revealed in a U.S. embassy cable obtained and released on the WikiLeaks website. The cable noted that guidelines on how to protect the plants from earthquakes had only been updated three times in 35 years, the paper said.
One cable noted that an expert had said "recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants, and that this is a serious problem that is now driving seismic safety work." Another disclosed that a member of Japan’s lower house had told diplomats in 2008 that the government was “covering up nuclear accidents, and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry,” the Daily Telegraph reported.
The cables also reveal that the Japanese government fought a court order to shut down a nuclear power plant over earthquake concerns. The plant was built to withstand a 6.5 earthquake. Friday’s earthquake was a magnitude 9.0, the paper said.
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