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New evidence that Fukushima’s reactors were failing BEFORE the tsunami

The explosive truth behind Fukushima’s meltdownJapan insists its nuclear crisis was caused by an unforeseeable combination of tsunami and earthquake. But new evidence suggests its reactors were doomed to fail, The Independent, By David McNeill in Tokyo and Jake Adelstein, 17 August 201

It is one of the mysteries of Japan’s ongoing nuclear crisis: How much
damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi
reactors before the tsunami hit?

The stakes are high: if the earthquake structurally compromised the plant
and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every similar reactor in Japan
may have to be shut down. With almost all of Japan’s 54 reactors either
offline (in the case of 35) or scheduled for shutdown by next April, the
issue of structural safety looms over any discussion about restarting
them.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) and Japan’s government are
hardly reliable adjudicators in this controversy. “There has been no
meltdown,” government spokesman Yukio Edano repeated in the days after 11
March. “It was an unforeseeable disaster,” Tepco’s then president Masataka
Shimizu famously and improbably said later. Five months since the
disaster, we now know that meltdown was already occurring as Mr Edano
spoke. And far from being unforeseeable, the disaster had been repeatedly
forewarned by industry critics.

Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: it
was the earthquake that knocked out the plant’s electric power, halting
cooling to its six reactors. The tsunami then washed out the plant’s
back-up generators 40 minutes later, shutting down all cooling and
starting the chain of events that would cause the world’s first triple
meltdown.

But what if recirculation pipes and cooling pipes burst after the
earthquake – before the tidal wave reached the facilities; before the
electricity went out? This would surprise few people familiar with the
40-year-old reactor one, the grandfather of the nuclear reactors still
operating in Japan.

Problems with the fractured, deteriorating, poorly repaired pipes and the
cooling system had been pointed out for years. In September 2002, Tepco
admitted covering up data about cracks in critical circulation pipes. In
their analysis of the cover-up, The Citizen’s Nuclear Information Centre
writes: “The records that were covered up had to do with cracks in parts
of the reactor known as recirculation pipes. These pipes are there to
siphon off heat from the reactor. If these pipes were to fracture, it
would result in a serious accident in which coolant leaks out.”

On 2 March, nine days before the meltdown, government watchdog the Nuclear
Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) warned Tepco on its failure to inspect
critical pieces of equipment at the plant, including recirculation pumps.
Tepco was ordered to make the inspections, perform repairs if needed and
report to NISA on 2 June. It does not appear, as of now, that the report
has been filed.

The Independent has spoken to several workers at the plant who recite the
same story: serious damage, to piping and at least one of the reactors,
occurred before the tsunami hit. All have requested anonymity because they
are still working at or connected with the stricken plant. Worker A, a
maintenance engineer who was at the Fukushima complex on the day of the
disaster, recalls hissing, leaking pipes….

Worker B, a technician
in his late 30s who was also on site at the time of the earthquake,
recalls: “It felt like the earthquake hit in two waves, the first impact
was so intense you could see the building shaking, the pipes buckling, and
within minutes I saw pipes bursting. Some fell off the wall.

“Someone yelled that we all needed to evacuate. But I was severely alarmed
because as I was leaving I was told and I could see that several pipes had
cracked open, including what I believe were cold water supply pipes. That
would mean that coolant couldn’t get to the reactor core. If you can’t
sufficiently get the coolant to the core, it melts down. You don’t have to
have to be a nuclear scientist to figure that out.” As he was heading to
his car, he could see that the walls of the reactor one building had
started to collapse. “There were holes in them. In the first few minutes,
no one was thinking about a tsunami. We were thinking about survival.”

The suspicion that the earthquake caused severe damage to the reactors is
strengthened by reports that radiation leaked from the plant minutes
later. The Bloomberg news agency has reported that a radiation alarm went
off about a mile from the plant at 3.29pm, before the tsunami hit.

The reason for official reluctance to admit that the earthquake did direct
structural damage to reactor one is obvious. Katsunobu Onda, author of
Tepco: The Dark Empire, explains it this way: A government or industry
admission “raises suspicions about the safety of every reactor they run.
They are using a number of antiquated reactors that have the same
systematic problems, the same wear and tear on the piping.” Earthquakes,
of course, are commonplace in Japan….

No one knows how much damage was done to the plant by the earthquake, or
if this damage alone would account for the meltdown. But certainly Tepco’s
data and eyewitness testimony indicates that the damage was significant.

As Mr Hasuike says: “Tepco and the government of Japan have provided many
explanations. They don’t make sense. The one thing they haven’t provided
is the truth. It’s time they did.”__ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-explosive-truth-behind-fukushimas-meltdown-2338819.html._,_.___

August 26, 2011 - Posted by | - Fukushima 2011, Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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