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Organized Crime Cleaning Up With Nuclear Waste

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  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maspatra (1031940) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:14PM (#36456748)
    This is actually par for the course when it comes to Japanese organized crime syndicates. The Yakuza have always been quick responders to natural disasters and their cleanup efforts. Japanese criminal syndicates aren't entirely illicit operations and run a lot of legitimate businesses as well, and are heavily involved in the construction industry in particular. Being generally faster and more efficient than the bureaucracy-laden government, (and not restricted by those silly "laws") whenever there's a major natural disaster, the Yakuza have always been some of the first on the scene to distribute food and medical supplies, and do cleanup and reconstruction for really low rates. They gain goodwill in the community and an opportunity to expand their power base, and the government saves money and hassle in the cleanup effort. Heck, half of Kobe was rebuilt by Yakuza after the great Hanshin quake. The whole thing is an open secret really.

    That they're doing this now is really to be expected, and not as alarming or terrible as the article would seem to suggest. This has been going on with criminal groups in Japan for generations, and isn't likely to stop any time soon.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:38PM (#36457046)
    Considering the time scale required to construct a large nuclear power plant the problems of scope creep and short term fads are going to be a problem unless serious long term adult supervision is applied. TMI is a classic example - it started with the best containment vessels of the time (which saved the day) but by the time construction had finished standards had slipped and it had control systems and sensors that would not have passed inspection in a fertilizer works (not an exaggeration - those things blow up too). For a while after TMI nuclear power was taken seriously again in the running plants, but attempts at applying adult supervision from the direction of government devolved into departmental empire building. By 1986 things were not pretty in the USA nuclear industry either but some degree of professionalism had been preserved after the scare of TMI, and was revived by the example of a real disaster. Fast forward to today and there have been so many generations of management since then that the problems of the past are put down to stupid Russians or idiots in the 1970s - the disaster in Japan could have happened in any of a dozen places given such a trigger of a sudden loss of cooling - too many people think that problems will never happen so many corners were cut thus increasing exposure to potential problems.
    With the current situation of subsidised faux-commercial civilian nuclear power and very long construction times the odds of getting highly professional management for the entire time until commissioning instead of a well connected horse judge or two is very low. Running such a project is full of pork and prestige which tends to squeeze out the merely competant for those that are seen to deserve a reward. Because so much capital is at stake and expectations are high it generates a situation where the lies, evasions and shortcuts seen in Japan maintain the prestige of the position in the short term unless something goes wrong to expose how badly things are run, so such lies become the default. It's about the size of the project and the perceived commercial gains after careful cooking of the financial books - research reactors don't seem to suffer from it due to clear goals and not being as desirable as a nepotistic reward.
    We've had it very clearly demonstrated to us since the 1970s that big reactors that require active cooling are bad news for many reasons. Smaller reactors have the promise of greater safety and significantly shorter construction times - they have the potential to get built while the initial goal is still in sight and are not seen as such a big deal so may not attract the flies that will instead go to corrupt other pots of honey.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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