Each year, Sustainable Business Forum publishes a list of the news stories that represent the worst examples of corporate responsibility. This year, the Forum selected the meltdown of three nuclear power plants at Fukushima:
1. Fukushima nuclear disaster
As with the BP oil leak in 2010, no corporate responsibility story dominated the media in the same way that Fukushima did. And for good reason. The world’s second worst nuclear disaster (after Chernobyl) slammed home just how risky the nuclear industry could be. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), the company operating the plant, has had to shoulder a lot of the blame for its shoddy risk management, poor planning and siting, falsified safety records, governance procedures, and lots more besides. Its now mired in debt, awaiting either nationalization or a government bail-out. Japanese regulators meanwhile failed in providing adequate oversight, in large part due to overly cosy relations with the energy industry. Not surprising then that Fukushima also had huge impacts more broadly, most notably in a massive swing away from nuclear in the clean energy debate. Germany for one has made a 180 degree switch away from nuclear. Really this was the mother of all corporate responsibility disasters in 2011.
By the way, the continuing controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline came in at No. 10 on the Forum’s list.