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Bungling, cover-ups define Japanese nuclear industry

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Behind Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses.

Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all.

In one case, workers hand-mixed uranium in stainless steel buckets, instead of processing by machine, so the fuel could be reused, exposing hundreds of workers to radiation. Two later died.

"Everything is a secret," said Kei Sugaoka, a former nuclear power plant engineer in Japan who now lives in California. "There's not enough transparency in the industry."


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