simpsons.jpgI am shocked, shocked at the N.Y. Times report:

The Japanese operator of a nuclear power plant stricken by an earthquake earlier this week said Wednesday that damage was worse than previously reported and that a leak of water was 50 percent more radioactive than initially announced.

For the third time in three days, Tokyo Electric Power apologized for delays and errors in announcing the extent of damage at the plant in this northwestern coastal city, which was struck Monday by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake. The company also said that tremors had tipped over "several hundred" barrels of radioactive waste, not 100 as it reported Tuesday, and that the lids had opened on "a few dozen" of those barrels.

Why is it you never read, "Wind Farm Damage Worse Than Reported"? The L.A. Times has more alarming news:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched.

"It is possible that the epicenter of the fault line runs under the power plant," said Akira Fukushima, deputy director-general for safety at the Industry Ministry’s nuclear agency …

"This earthquake was much bigger than the plant had been designed for," said Fukushima …

And yet it was only a magnitude 6.8 quake. What will happen if they get hit with one that is two times as strong — or ten times?

The L.A. Times story makes clear that this was no isolated incident:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Public skepticism about the safety of Japan’s nuclear power plants has been nurtured by a slowly emerging pattern of questionable safety habits and cover-ups.

Tepco’s 17 nuclear plants were temporarily shut down in 2003 after it admitted it had falsified safety inspection reports. And owners of the Shika nuclear plant revealed in March that they had suffered a critical accident in 1999.

Until this week, the government and Tepco had vociferously denied claims that the facility’s seven reactors sat above an active fault.

In 2005, government experts defended and won a court challenge brought against the power company by a local citizens group, which argued that the plant should not be allowed to build additional reactors because the area was an active earthquake zone.

"The nuclear power industry is terrible about disclosing information," said Yoshinori Ito, a lawyer who represented the citizens group.

He accused the government witnesses in the case of being too timid to contradict the scholars who had provided the initial data that allowed construction to proceed.

The court declared that the ground under Kashiwazaki "did not even amount to a fault and could not cause a quake."

As Charles Montgomery "Monty" Burns would say, "Excellent."

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.