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TEPCO bungles it again in dealing with Fukushima tainted water

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Rows of tanks store water contaminated by radioactive materials at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant
October 9, 2018
Disturbing new revelations about increasing amounts of radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have undoubtedly further darkened the already dim prospects for solving this tricky and complicated challenge.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the nuclear plant destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, has said the filtering system to decontaminate the polluted water, known as ALPS (advanced liquid processing system), has failed to remove such radioactive elements as strontium 90 and radioactive iodine.
On Sept. 28, the utility acknowledged that about 80 percent of the water in storage tanks for ALPS-treated water on the plant premises exceeded government standards for radioactive materials.
TEPCO previously claimed that the ALPS system could remove all radioactive elements except for tritium, a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen.
But the fact is that of the 890,000 tons of water treated by the ALPS system and stored in the tanks, about 750,000 tons contain higher concentrations of radioactive materials than levels permitted by the safety regulations for release into the ocean.
In 65,000 tons of treated water, the levels of strontium 90 are more than 100 times the safety standards, according to TEPCO. The levels are as high as 20,000 times the standards in some tanks.
In explaining the reasons for this failure, TEPCO pointed to problems with the ALPS system shortly after it was first installed. The utility also reduced the frequency of the replacement of absorbents for removing radioactive materials to keep the system running as long as possible.
The company had long known these facts, but was less than eager to share them with the public.
TEPCO says it has disclosed the data on its website. But it is virtually impossible for an uninformed third-party information seeker to detect such problems in the massive reams of data.
The company deserves to be criticized for having deliberately concealed these inconvenient facts.
The utility reported the facts to an industry ministry subcommittee dealing with the problem of radioactive water and apologized. It appears that the company is not yet fully aware of its responsibility to solve this problem as the operator of the plant where an unprecedented nuclear accident occurred.
The ministry, for its part, should be held accountable for its failure to ensure appropriate disclosure of the information by TEPCO. The subcommittee should be faulted for concentrating its attention almost exclusively on tritium.
Tackling this formidable challenge requires debate from a broad perspective based on diverse information.
This point has been underscored afresh by the latest revelations.
The consequent radical changes in the basic assumptions concerning the problem of radioactive water have brought the process of figuring out a workable way to deal with the challenge back to square one.
TEPCO plans to treat the contaminated water with the ALPS system again to lower the levels of radioactive materials below the safety standards.
This approach, however, is expected to make the water treatment process far costlier and more time-consuming than originally expected, possibly affecting the entire project to decommission the crippled reactors at the plant.
The biggest blow comes from the serious damage the revelations have caused to TEPCO’s already strained relationship with local communities.
To build a broad consensus on how to cope with the problem, the government and the utility should work together to ensure timely and adequate information disclosure and set up opportunities for dialogue with local residents.
A system should also be created to promote a national conversation on this issue.
The tanks to store treated water is expected to be filled to capacity by around 2020, according to the government.
But no time limit should be set for debate on the problem. There is no shortcut to a solution.

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO admits meltdown cover-up



TEPCO admits meltdown cover-up

The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company has admitted the company concealed the reactor meltdowns at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant immediately after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The utility did not officially admit the meltdowns until more than 2 months after the accident.

In February this year, it was revealed the utility could have ascertained a meltdown 3 days after its occurrence if workers had followed an in-house manual.

TEPCO asked a third-party panel to investigate the matter. Last Thursday, the panel released a report that said the company’s then-president, Masataka Shimizu, had instructed officials not to use the words “core meltdown.”

TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said at a news conference on Tuesday that the company’s concealment of the meltdowns at the order of its then-president is a grave issue. He said it is natural for the public to interpret the decision as a cover-up, and he apologized.

The panel report said TEPCO’s then-president received instructions on the matter from the prime minister’s office. But it’s not known what exactly he was told or who gave the orders.

Both then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano have denied giving such instructions.

Fukushima meltdown apology: “It was a cover-up”

TOKYO — The utility that ran the Fukushima nuclear plant acknowledged Tuesday its delayed disclosure of the meltdowns at three reactorswas tantamount to a cover-up and apologized for it.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose’s apology followed the revelation last week that an investigation had found Hirose’s predecessor instructed officials during the 2011 disaster to avoid using the word “meltdown.”

“I would say it was a cover-up,” Hirose told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”

TEPCO instead described the reactors’ condition as less serious “core damage” for two months after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, wrecked the plant, even though utility officials knew and computer simulations suggested meltdowns had occurred.

An investigative report released last Thursday by three company-appointed lawyers said TEPCO’s then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed officials not to use the specific description under alleged pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, though the investigators found no proof of such pressure.

The report said TEPCO officials, who had suggested possible meltdowns, stopped using the description after March 14, 2011, when Shimizu’s instruction was delivered to vice president at the time, Sakae Muto in a memo at a televised news conference. In a video from that day, a company official rushes over to Muto, showing the memo and telling him that the Prime Minister’s Office has banned the word.

Government officials also softened their language on the reactor conditions around the same time, the report said.

Former officials at the Prime Minister’s Office have denied the allegation. Then-top government spokesman Yukio Edano, now secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party, criticized the report as “inadequate and unilateral,” raising suspicion over the report by the lawyers seen close to the ruling party ahead of an upcoming Upper House election.

TEPCO has been accused of a series of cover-ups in the disaster, though the report found TEPCO’s delayed meltdown acknowledgement wasn’t illegal.

Hirose said he will take a 10 percent pay cut, and another executive will take a 30 percent cut, for one month each to take responsibility.

The report said Shimizu’s instruction delayed full disclosure of the plant’s status to the public, even as people who lived near the plant were forced to leave their homes, some of them possibly unable to return permanently, due to the radiation leaks from the plant.

TEPCO reported to authorities three days after the tsunami that the damage, based on a computer simulation, involved 25 to 55 percent of the fuel but didn’t say it constituted a “meltdown,” even though the figures exceeded the 5 percent benchmark for one under the company manual.

TEPCO in May 2011 publicly acknowledged “meltdown” after another computer simulation showed significant meltdown in three reactors, including one with melted fuel almost entirely fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber.

The issue surfaced earlier this year in a separate investigation in which TEPCO reversed its earlier position that it had no internal criteria regarding a meltdown announcement, admitting the company manual was overlooked.

Tepco head apologizes for 3/11 ban issued on ‘meltdown’

The head of Tokyo Electric Power Co. apologized Tuesday over his predecessor’s order to not use the term “core meltdown” to describe the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the early days of the March 2011 crisis.

It is extremely regrettable. People are justified in thinking it as a coverup,” Tepco President Naomi Hirose said at a news conference in Tokyo.

The remarks came after a report published last Thursday said that then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed a vice president, who was taking part in a news conference on March 14, 2011, not to use “core meltdown” to describe the states of the reactors.

Tepco reported to authorities on March 14, based on a computer simulation, that the event damaged 25 to 55 percent of the fuel rods, but the utility did not say it constituted a meltdown, the report said.

The company’s internal manual defined a meltdown as damage to more than 5 percent of the fuel.

The utility used the less serious phrase “core damage” for two months after the disaster began. In May 2011, Tepco finally used “meltdown.”

The report suggested that efforts were made to make the nuclear crisis look less severe than it actually was at a time when attention was riveted on the condition of the six-reactor complex following a massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

The utility said it will cut Hirose’s salary by 10 percent for a month.

Shimizu likely issued the instruction due to pressure from the office of then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, according to the report, compiled by a third-party commission set up to investigate the utility’s handling of the disaster. But it did not explain how pressure was exerted by the prime minister’s office, citing fading memories of the people involved.

The commission said it had not interviewed Kan or Yukio Edano, who was then chief Cabinet secretary in the administration, in the course of compiling the report because it was not authorized to do so.

The two denied the allegation.

On Friday, Edano called a special news conference to refute the panel’s finding, saying that neither he nor Kan ordered or requested then-President Shimizu to avoid using the term “meltdown” under any circumstance.

He said the party will consider taking legal action against Tepco and a third-party panel that compiled the report. Edano criticized the report as “inadequate and unilateral.”

Edano also said the timing of the report was suspicious ahead of the Upper House election. Kan has suggested it might be some kind of bid by Tepco and the ruling parties to sling mud on the opposition Democratic Party.

The DP is the successor to the Democratic Party of Japan, to which Kan and Edano belonged, before it merged with Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) on March 27.

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco admits they concealed the fact of meltdown



On 5/30/2016, a director of Tepco, Anegawa admitted that Tepco concealed the fact of meltdown in 311.

He stated that in the press conference of that day. He says it was obviously meltdown, but Tepco avoided mentioning the term of “meltdown”. He thinks that was concealment.

In Tepco’s internal manual, meltdown is defined to be when over 5% of reactor core is damaged. However Tepco did not mention meltdown even though they knew 55 ~ 70% of the core was damaged by 3/14/2011.

Anegawa commented ordinary engineer would call such a state meltdown even without a manual.

At this moment, third-party inspection committee is investigating Tepco for its arbitrariness.

June 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment