OTR Interviews

Japan's Nuclear Crisis Follows Years of False Reports, Lies

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 18, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, crews are heroically and absolutely heroically under the worst possible conditions -- they are putting their lives on the line, racing to come up with something that might prevent what looks like inevitable, a meltdown. And as we wait and watch and fear, but we do hope, you can't help but wonder if Fukushima nuclear site has a past, a dirty, secret past. Ben Lefebvre of the Dow Jones Newswire joins us live. Ben, in terms of Fukushima, does it have a bad history?

BEN LEFEBVRE, DOWN JONES NEWSWIRE: It's had some accidents in the past. Obviously, nothing this big. But there has been some incidents that warranted, like, a closer look at the power plant.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the power plant, though, there are two types of issues. One is that, you know, some malfunction or some problem or even, you know, human error or something, and then there's deceit. You know, there have been reports that they -- that there was falsified records, that there was a scandal. What can you tell me about that?

LEFEBVRE: Back in the, I think, early 2000s, there was a whistleblower case, where a TEPCO employee informed the government that his employers had asked him to erase videotape that showed leaking steam pipes. The videotapes were supposed to have been sent to government regulators, but according to this man, his employers asked him to erase those parts of the tape and send them on. That scandal actually really ballooned and caused the then president of TEPCO to step down with a number of senior employees.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened to that employee? And the only reason I ask, if you know, is because it might have discouraged, possibly, others from likewise stepping forward at other potential problems. So do you know if that -- did he emerge as a hero or did he emerge as a -- you know, as a scoundrel?

LEFEBVRE: Well, for a while, he didn't emerge at all. He actually alerted his superiors early on what was going on, and it took almost the better part of the decade for the -- his information to get out to the broader public and to cause a government investigation. What happened to him after that, I can't tell you. I know that TEPCO has been in and out of the news. You know, it seems that the employees are almost fighting the management sometime with getting information out there. So he's probably a hero.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess in looking at this particular incident that what caused this was the tsunami. It wasn't by someone falsifying documents, or as far as we know, no sort of substandard safety measure, unless, of course, after an investigation, we find out that the substandard safety measure is why it was so vulnerable to a tsunami. But it seems like the tsunami was the guilty party and what caused this problem. Is that fair?

LEFEBVRE: Yes, that's correct. They had planned the nuclear plants to withstand a 7.2 -- I'm sorry, a 7.9 earthquake, and that was based on their models that were -- they based those models off earlier earthquakes. So they thought they were very well prepared for it. There are some people who say they may have oversold their safety measures, but as far as we can tell, there is no wrongdoing, no dishonesty in it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the interesting thing is that it did -- it did withstand, apparently, a 9.0 earthquake. Isn't it the tsunami that really -- that really caused the problem? They survived the earthquake, even though it was only built to 7.2 or whatever, but -- and the earthquake was a 9, but it wasn't even the earthquake that seems to have disabled -- so profoundly disabled the site.

LEFEBVRE: No, that's correct. The tsunami, from what we can tell, did the real damage. A lot of the water got in there and disabled their diesel pumps that were helping to cool the fuel rods. So that was something -- I don't know how well they planned for that, but that was what really caused the damage.

VAN SUSTEREN: Of course, everyone's going say, Well, what caused the tsunami was the earthquake. But anyway, Ben, thank you very much.

LEFEBVRE: Thank you.