“A major factor that contributed to the accident was the widespread assumption in Japan that its nuclear power plants were so safe that an accident of this magnitude was simply unthinkable. This assumption was accepted by nuclear power plant operators and was not challenged by regulators or by the Government. As a result, Japan was not sufficiently prepared for a severe nuclear accident in March 2011.” [August 2015 Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Foreword by the Director General] Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management (held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

“The earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 were natural disasters of a magnitude that shocked the entire world. Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster. It was a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” – Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chairman of The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (Pg. 9)

“A “manmade” disaster: The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.” We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual. (see Recommendation 1)” — from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 16)

"The government, the regulators, TEPCO management, and the Kantei lacked the preparation and the mindset to efficiently operate an emergency response to an accident of this scope. None, therefore, were effective in preventing or limiting the consequential damage." — from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 18)

“The Commission has verified that there was a lag in upgrading nuclear emergency preparedness and complex disaster countermeasures, and attributes this to regulators’ negative attitudes toward revising and improving existing emergency plans.” – from The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 19)

“Evacuation zones/planning are inadequate all over the world.”2013 comment by Dr. Maureen McCue (M.D., Ph.D.), Physicians for Social Responsibility

“…What part of Fukushima don’t you understand? If you don’t make the modifications [re: safety & emergency planning] you run the risk of destroying the fabric of a country. It happened at Chernobyl, and it’s happening right now in Japan…” – Arnie Gundersen in a (4-minute) March 27/14 interview, discussing the 3rd anniversary of Fukushima accident (March 11/11)

Re: Failure to hand out KI Pills in Japan: “In interviews with The Wall Street Journal, several national and local government officials and advisers blamed the delay on a communications breakdown among different government agencies with responsibilities over various aspects of the disaster.

They also cited an abrupt move by the government shortly after the accident, when local officials raised sharply the level of radiation exposure that would qualify an individual for iodine pills and other safety measures, such as thorough decontamination.

“Most of our residents had no idea we were supposed to take medication like that,” said Juichi Ide, general-affairs chief of Kawauchi Village, located about 20 miles from the plant. “By the time the pills were delivered to our office on the 16th, everyone in the village was gone.” <from Wall St. Journal article, quoted in Watershed Sentinel>

“Complacency and hubris are the worst enemies to nuclear safety.” — Najmedin Meshkati, an engineering professor at USC who worked on the National Academy of Sciences July 2014 report that was reported on in the article below

Nuclear plants ill-prepared for worst-case scenarios, report says

Former PM of Japan: “Before the Fukushima accident, with the belief that no nuclear accident would happen as long as the safety measures were followed properly, I had pushed the policy of utilising nuclear power,” he wrote. “Having faced the real accident as prime minister, and having experienced the situation which came so close to requiring me to order the evacuation of 50 million people, my view is now changed 180 degrees.” – Naoto Kan, Former Prime Minister of Japan (From this article ‘Japan’s former PM tells of Tokyo evacuation risk after Fukushima’)

More from former PM Naoto Kan: “In spite of the various measures taken in order to prevent accidents, it is technically impossible to eliminate accidents, especially if human factors such as terrorism are taken into account. Actually, it is not all that difficult to eliminate nuclear power plant accidents. All we need to do is to eliminate nuclear power plants themselves. And that resolution lies in the hands of the citizens.” – from the article ‘Encountering the Fukushima Daiichi Accident’

The Fukushima nuclear accident was the result of “human error in which people failed to make the proper preparations.” – Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

“They’re protected against nuclear accidents – unless an accident actually happens.” – David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists, speaking in March 2013 at Helen Caldicott Symposium on 2nd anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.

Gregory Jaczko, former head of the U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission): “We have defined safety measures against the things that we kind of know. An accident is going to be something that we didn’t predict,” he said [in this article]. ** Jaczko, as the article explains, resigned as Chair of the NRC in 2012, & now campaigns for a global nuclear phaseout. He is one of the many people interviewed in the 2015 documentary ‘Indian Point.’ (on Facebook here)

“It was a journey to hell without a map.” – Kai Watanabe, 27-year old maintenance worker at Fukushima plant who believed “Duty comes first.” (quoted in Strong in the Rain – Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster)

From the Introduction in Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“The story of Fukushima Daiichi is a larger tale, however. It is the saga of a technology promoted through the careful nurturing of a myth: the myth of safety. Nuclear energy is an energy choice that gambles with disaster.

Fukushima Daiichi unmasked the weaknesses of nuclear power plant design and the long-standing flaws in operations and regulatory oversight. Although Japan must share the blame, this was not a Japanese nuclear accident; it was a nuclear accident that just happened to have occurred in Japan. The problems that led to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi exist wherever reactors operate.

Although the accident involved a failure of technology, even more worrisome was the role of the worldwide nuclear establishment: the close-knit culture that has championed nuclear energy – politically, economically, socially – while refusing to acknowledge and reduce the risks that accompany its operation. Time and again, warning signs were ignored and brushes with calamity written off.” <Page vii> Fukushima – The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists

“What Dr. Gerstein shows is that reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness … They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage … the leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster … Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.” – Daniel Ellsberg, quoted in the Marc Gerstein book Flirting with Disaster – Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental  (also quoted by Arnie Gundersen in the Greenpeace report Lessons from Fukushima )

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Boxer Mike Tyson

** Great long quotation about the value of biennial emergency exercises in posting here.

** (Recent) YouTube: 18 minutes on four common issues/problems demonstrated by the Three Mile Island (TMI), Chernobyl & Fukushima accidents (narrated by former nuclear industry exec/engineer Arnie Gundersen, who worked for the nuclear industry at the time of the Three Mile Island accident)

Nuclear "Regulatory Capture" -- A Global Pattern