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TEPCO failed to follow manual on meltdown

A new finding on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident has raised questions about the way the plant’s operator initially explained the catastrophe taking place in the reactors.

Nuclear fuel in 3 of the plant’s reactors melted down following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th of that year.

Tokyo Electric Power Company did not admit there had been meltdowns for 2 more months.

The utility previously said it could find no grounds to conclude the reactors had melted down.

But it has been revealed that the firm’s in-house manual noted that damage of more than 5 percent to a reactor core should be called a meltdown. A core houses nuclear fuel.

TEPCO found the description in the manual in a probe following a request from an investigative panel of the Niigata prefectural government.

If the utility had followed the manual, it should have assessed the damage was a meltdown 3 days after the accident, when the reactors’ sensors were restored.

Engineers learned at that time that fuel in the No.1 reactor was 55 percent damaged, and 30 percent in the No.3 reactor. Both clearly meet the criteria of a meltdown.

TEPCO revised its manual after the accident. It now says it will assess and disclose when a meltdown has occurred before nuclear fuel is damaged 5 percent.

February 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco admits it should have declared meltdowns at Fukushima plant much earlier

Nearly five years after the nation’s worst nuclear accident, Tokyo Electric Power Co. has admitted that its staff failed to follow damage assessment guidelines, according to which they should have reported the meltdowns almost immediately.
A Tepco spokesman on Wednesday said the company’s Disaster Management Manual requires a reactor to be declared “in meltdown” if 5 percent or more of its fuel rods are determined to be “damaged.”
Tepco knew the extent of the damage early on. As of March 14, 2011, it estimated that 55 percent of the fuel rod assemblies of the reactor No. 1 and 25 percent of those at reactor No. 3 were “damaged,” based on the levels of radiation detected, Tepco spokesperson Yukako Handa told The Japan Times by phone.
Yet, despite widespread public skepticism at that time, the company refused to use the word “meltdown” for a period of about two months.
This led to widespread public speculation about a cover-up and failure to admit the extent of the damage. The sudden removal of a nuclear regulator spokesman fueled this.
Handa said a meltdown would have been declared if the guidelines had been followed correctly. But she said Tepco reported its estimates of damage to the government immediately — as required by law — and its failure to describe the situation as one of meltdown did not break regulations.
“Executives in charge of public relations at the time of the accident were not aware of the assessment criteria written in the Disaster Management Manual,” Handa said.
“They believed there was no clear definition of a ‘meltdown,’ so they didn’t make any clear remarks about one,’ ” she said.
Handa said Tepco will investigate why it failed to follow the assessment manual.
Wednesday’s announcement by Tepco was the first confirmation that such a manual even exists. NHK broke the news earlier in the day.
Whether to admit a “meltdown” was taking place at the plant was a sensitive topic for both the central government and Tepco from the start.
On March 12, one day after the tsunami knocked out power and cooling facilities, Koichiro Nakamura, a senior official at the now-defunct Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, told a news conference that a “meltdown of a reactor’s core” may be taking place at the Fukushima plant, given the radiation levels detected.
Nakamura was promptly removed from a PR position at the agency, sparking speculation of a government cover-up of something critical underway at the site.

February 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO’s understanding of ‘meltdown’ questioned

A new finding is raising questions about the explanation first offered for what was happening inside damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011.

Nuclear fuel in 3 reactor cores melted following the earthquake and tsunami that March.

But Tokyo Electric Power Company officials failed to describe these as meltdowns.

They said there were no grounds for reaching that conclusion.

But 2 months later the utility formally admitted all 3 had melted down.

NHK has learned that the firm’s own manual says a meltdown has occurred if at least 5 percent of a core has melted. Nuclear fuel is housed in the core.

The operator told NHK it discovered this definition in the course of responding to a request from a Niigata Prefectural Government panel investigating the accident.

An NHK reporter says this would suggest TEPCO did not understand the precise definition of a meltdown until nearly 5 years after the accident.

The utility says it will continue to investigate why it didn’t use the word meltdown soon after the crisis began.


February 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ice wall shown to media

An incinerator in Fukushima Daiichi means more incineration, which add more radioaticle nanoparticles dispersed into the air and into the environment.

The operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant has shown media outlets the site where work has been completed for an underground ice wall. The wall is designed to stop underground water from flowing into the plant’s reactor buildings.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, began construction of the wall in 2014. Its work was completed earlier this month.

The wall is designed to freeze the soil around the Number 1 to Number 4 reactor buildings in order to keep groundwater from seeping into the structures.

TEPCO has driven about 1,500 pipes carrying refrigerant liquid into the ground around the buildings. The pipes and cooling devices were shown to the media on Tuesday.

But workers have not yet injected a freezing agent into the pipes. This is due to concerns that a sudden drop in groundwater levels may result in the release of radioactive water. TEPCO officials are examining the situation with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, or NRA.

Masato Kino of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy is in charge of dealing with the contaminated water. He says now that the ice wall is completed, his agency is consulting with the NRA to reduce the volume of radioactive water at the plant.

TEPCO officials also showed the media an incinerator that will burn contaminated waste such as used protective suits.

Officials plan to start testing the incinerator on Thursday.
They hope it will help reduce about 66,000 cubic meters of waste that has accumulated at the plant.

February 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 1 Comment

Nuclear watchdog gives nod on safety to two aging reactors for first time


The No. 1 reactor, in the background on the right, and the No. 2 reactor beside it are seen at Takahama nuclear power plant in the town of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture. The No. 3 reactor, in the foreground on the right, restarted its operation in January this year while the No. 4 reactor next to it is expected to restart its operation Feb. 26 at the earliest.

For the first time, Japan’s nuclear watchdog has disclosed that two aging nuclear reactors in operation for more than their basic lifespan of 40 years have passed the new safety standards set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture could now have their operations extended for a further 20 years as the Nuclear Regulation Authority made the announcement on Feb. 24.
To extend the operational lives of the two reactors, operator Kansai Electric Power Co. must receive NRA approval by July on three outstanding items–safety measures, detailed designs and extension of operations.
This is the fourth time the NRA has acknowledged that nuclear reactors are meeting the new safety standards, but the first time for those that are at least 40 years old.
The other three cases were the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co.; the No. 3 and the No. 4 reactors at the Takahama plant; and the No. 3 rector at Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, operated by Shikoku Electric Power Co.
After the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, laws on nuclear safety were revised. As a result, it was stipulated that the operation period of nuclear reactors is a basic 40 years but that can be extended by up to 20 years–but just one time–with NRA approval.
Although the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors at the Takahama plant have been operating for more than 40 years, it is a transitional measure until July as Kansai Electric Power has yet to obtain NRA approval for a 20-year extension.
In March 2015, the utility asked to be screened by the NRA to ensure it was meeting the new safety standards. In April 2015, it applied for an additional 20 years for each reactor.
The NRA has been conducting intensive screenings on the reactors because if Kansai Electric Power cannot obtain approval on safety measures, detailed designs and extension of operations by the July deadline, it will have to decommission the two reactors.
In the safety screenings, the main focus was on fire-prevention measures with regard to electric cables. The No. 1 and No. 2 reactors were using cables totaling 1,300 kilometers in length, but they were not fire-retardant.
The utility responded by replacing 60 percent of them with fire-retardant cables, and wrapping the remaining 40 percent with fire-retardant sheets. This met with NRA approval.
With regard to earthquake and tsunami resistance, the utility used the same levels as those for the No. 3 and the No. 4 reactors at Takahama plant, both of which had already been approved by the NRA as meeting the new safety standards.
The NRA devoted 389 pages of the screening paper to its opinion that the No. 1 and the No. 2 reactors at Takahama are meeting the new safety standards. The NRA will collect opinions from the public about its conclusions for 30 days from Feb. 25 and then formally decide whether the two reactors are meeting the new standards on safety measures.
At the same time, it will go ahead with screenings on the remaining two items–detailed designs and the extension of operations. The screening on the detailed designs will focus on quake-resistant capabilities of important facilities. The screening on the extension of operation will check on the deterioration of facilities.
Even if Kansai Electric Power obtains approval on all of the three items, it will take about three years for the utility to finish work on safety measures. Because of that, the operations of Takahama’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors are not expected to be restarted before autumn 2019.

February 24, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

How banned “Mislabeled” Fukushima food products are making it onto international store shelves.


by Robert Harrington

It is being reported that tainted food from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gumma, and Chiba is making its way into local supermarkets in Taiwan due to the irresponsibility of mislabeling. What’s more, these food products were banned in Taiwan since March of 2011.

The first question is: Why are food products from the concerned Japanese prefectures surrounding Fukushima mislabelled?

The second question is: Why is Japan attempting to foist its unsafe and inferior radioactive foods on Taiwan?

Instead of humbly acquiescing to Taiwan’s wishes, Japan takes an aggressive approach even threatening WTO arbitration.

Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration said the latest enforcement was in line with radiation safety management practices that other countries have put in place on Japanese food imports following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

It said it “is necessary to protect the safety of food consumption” for Taiwanese.

But Japan is protesting the move, with the government warning that it may escalate the matter to the World Trade Organization, potentially deepening the conflict between Taipei and Tokyo.

Japan Created Their Predicament by Building All of Their Nuclear Reactors on Their Island Coastlines

Rather than own the problem which successive Japanese governments are fully responsible for, they appear to be taking advantage of their neighbors. No one ever forced Japan to locate their entire nuclear power generation industry on the shoreline.

Even after 4 plus years beyond the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has still failed to satisfactorily address the fallout from the meltdown(s) that occurred after the March 11, 2011 earthquake-generated tsunami.

Report: 20,000 Square Miles Contaminated by Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi

Even more inexplicably, the Japanese government has voted to continue the operation of their nuclear power plants in spite of their vulnerability to both frequent earthquakes and potential tsunamis. Being located in one of the most seismically active earthquake zones in the Ring of Fire, such an ill-advised decision can only set up another nuclear catastrophe. Which begs the question:

“Does anyone in their right mind believe that nuclear power plants can ever be designed, engineered or constructed to withstand 9.0 earthquakes followed by 15 meter high tsunamis? 

The obvious answer is as follows:

“Japan should never have sited 55 nuclear reactors (plus 12 others) on its coastlines.”

Therefore, why are countries like Taiwan paying a serious price for Japan’s extraordinarily bad judgment and serious mistakes? They have known for centuries that they reside on one of the most earthquake-prone pieces of real estate in the entire world. To continue with the same nuclear energy model despite the obvious lessons of Fukushima seems to defy common sense.


Japan made some extremely fateful decisions post World War II concerning the ways it would satisfy the nation’s energy needs. In light of their direct experience with atomic energy during WWII, it would seem that they would have opted for non-nuclear energy alternatives. Instead, they went full bore constructing nuclear power plants as quickly as they could convince the prefectures with the targeted coastlines.

Here they are now still dealing with the Fukushima meltdown(s) — a set of intractable nuclear challenges which may have no practical solutions. That means that those prefectures surrounding Fukushima may always have an environment suffering from a proliferation of radionuclides. What exactly are radionuclides?

radionuclide or radioactive nuclide is a nuclide that is radioactive. Also referred to as a radioisotope or radioactive isotope, it is an isotope with an unstable nucleus, characterized by excess energy available to be imparted either to a newly created radiation particle within the nucleus or via internal conversion. During this process, the radionuclide is said to undergo radioactive decay, resulting in the emission of gamma ray(s) and/or subatomic particles such as alpha or beta particles.These emissions constitute ionizing radiation. (Source: Wikipedia — Radionuclide)

Radionuclides, and especially the ionizing radiation which they emit, are certainly not something that anyone would want in their back yard, much less in their food. Nevertheless, Japan feels it can maintain the same policies that got them into this calamitous predicament. Hopefully, Taiwan will not relent to demands so unreasonable they strain credulity. After all, Japan needs to learn some critical lessons for their own benefit as well as for their trading partners.

How Fukushima Produce Is Making Its Way Into International Stores


February 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | 3 Comments