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Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown and Thyroid Cancer in Children

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Alexander Bay, Chapman University – Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown and Thyroid Cancer in Children

Is there a link between the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and cancer?

Alexander Bay, associate professor in the department of history at Chapman University, looks into the link between the radiation and thyroid cancer among children.

When I began teaching at Chapman University in August 2006, I had an established research trajectory focusing on the history of public health in Japan. My first book, Beriberi in Modern Japan, published in December, 2012, by the University of Rochester Press as part of the Rochester Studies in Medical History, grew out of my Stanford PhD dissertation. I produced an initial articulation of this project for the refereed journal Japan Review: Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies. My article, “Beriberi, Military Medicine, and Medical Authority in Prewar Japan,” appeared in the fall 2008 issue. I spent the 2008-2009 academic year in Japan during which a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship funded further research for and the writing of my book. In addition to journal articles and book monographs, I have presented original research at the annual meetings of the Association for Asian Studies, the History of Science Society, East Asian Science, Technology and Society, and the Japan Society for the History of Medicine. I have also written book reviews for The Pacific Circle, the Journal of the Japanese Society for the History of Medicine, First World War Studies, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal, and The Journal of Asian Studies, and have acted as an peer reviewer for East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal.

During the summer of 2010, I began initial work on second project concerning the history of the environmental impact on digestive system disorders. I presented early versions of this study at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, the Science, Technology, and Medicine in East Asia: Policy, Practice, and Implications in a Global Context conferencAlex Bay kickboxinge at The Ohio State University and at a University of North Carolina Asian Studies Program lecture series in 2011. Based on these conference presentations and academic talks, an editor of Historia Scientiarum, the English-language journal for the History of Science Society of Japan, asked me to contribute to a special issue dedicated to the history of Japanese medical history. The editor now has my article draft. I received a summer 2012 Travel/Research Grant from the D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science in East Asia to further research this topic. Tentatively entitled Nation from the Bottom Up: Disease, Toilets and Waste Management in Modern Japan, this project concerns the history of environmental hygiene and digestive-system diseases including dysentery, typhoid fever, hemorrhoids and parasite-diseases like schistosomiasis as well as the technology of waste-management in Japan from 1900 to 1980.

After the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami induced triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Power Plant, Fukushima Prefecture began a Health Survey to test the thyroid glands of children under 18. The survey uncovered a large number of thyroid abnormalities. At present, there are 1,819 cases of childhood thyroid abnormality in Fukushima prefecture alone. As of 2016, there are 166 cases of thyroid cancer detected through cytology. Medical statistics suggest that this is an unnatural deviation from the baseline of 1 or 2 in one million. The Health Survey; however, argues that these new cases are the result of a “screening effect:” Because the Health Survey is actively checking children, it is finding more cases that fall within the baseline numbers for thyroid cancer. The take-home message is that there is no causal link between the Fukushima meltdowns, the amount of radiation released and these cancers.

The history of how the tobacco industry constructed ignorance concerning the link between smoking and cancer helps highlight the Japanese government’s campaign to spread doubt and uncertainty about the health effects of radiation and childhood cancer.

Studies sympathetic to the nuclear-power industry often excluded data on the health effects concerning non-human subjects. This discourse resonates with language used by the tobacco industry to cast doubt and uncertainty over the discussion of the health effects of smoking: Animal experiments cannot prove that smoking caused cancer because they do not reflect the human condition. The Survey noted in 2014 that the accident produced no reactions in tissue despite numerous peer-reviewed studies showing that artificial radiation from Fukushima caused genetic damage in butterfly species. Scientific research; however, has shown that even low-dose exposure increases the risks of cancer. We are unfortunately seeing effects of this in the children of Fukushima Prefecture.

https://academicminute.org/2017/03/alexander-bay-chapman-university-fukushima-nuclear-meltdown-and-thyroid-cancer-in-children/

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March 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Say Meltdown: Japan’s Coverup and US’ ‘Radioactive Russian Roulette’

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Japan finds itself in the midst of a fresh scandal, as the president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has publicly admitted that the company staged a cover-up during the disastrous Fukushima nuclear meltdown in March of 2011.

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Kevin Kamps, from Beyond Nuclear, about the coverup and its possible implications for the US. 

Kamps documented how TEPCO knew about the meltdown from the beginning, and understated the true extent of the damage. “They clearly did conceal the three meltdowns for two months,” he said. “They [TEPCO] knew really within the first day or two that they had a meltdown, and they simply covered it up for as long as they could.”

Kamps pointed out a recent report in which the company attempted to dodge responsibility for their duplicity. “What’s interesting now is this panel report is trying to shift the blame from Tokyo Electric to the serving government at the time, which was the Democratic Party of Japan. They’re trying to blame Prime Minister [Naoto] Kan and his chief spokesman Yukio Edano, both of whom have really come out swinging against this report, saying it’s preposterous [and that] they made no order to TEPCO to not use the word ‘meltdown,’ but that’s what TEPCO’s trying to say, that’s it’s the government’s fault.”

Kamps explained that, at first, TEPCO spokespeople described the meltdown as  “‘core damage,’ in that the solid nuclear fuel, the fuel rods in the core of these three reactors, had suffered damage, had released some of their radioactive activity out into the environment.” 

“But a meltdown indicates that you’ve lost complete control of the integrity of the nuclear fuel cores, they have literally melted down because of the hellish thermal heat levels and have formed a molten mass that can then burn its way through the reactor pressure vessel and even the containment structures, into the earth. And they knew, by their own regulations and their own instruction manuals, that 5% or more core damage equals a meltdown, and they knew that, in unit 1, they had 55% core damage, they knew in unit 3 they had 25% damage, they knew this within a couple days.”

Loud & Clear host Brian Becker asked Kamps if TEPCO is aware of what happened to the cores. Kamps replied, “They still don’t know where the cores are. Tokyo Electric optimistically assumes that they are still located within containment structures, which are obviously damaged or even destroyed, because of the levels of radioactivity that have escaped and is still escaping. They don’t know for sure.” 

Kamps noted the drastic impact that nuclear reactor meltdowns have on the environment in contaminating soil and groundwater, and that similar incidents are possible in the US because the same technology is still being used. “We have 22 reactors in the United States that are of the same design of Fukushima-Daiichi,” he said. “We have another eight that are closely related, so that’s 30 of these radioactive Russian-roulette games going on in the United States.”

http://sputniknews.com/asia/20160706/1042496696/japanese-company-covers-up-meltodown.html

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear meltdown was covered up, plant operator admits

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Naomi Hirose, left, TEPCO president, and Takafumi Anegawa, a director, apologise at press conference in Tokyo today

The company responsible for the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has admitted lying about the meltdown of its reactors five years ago, in a deliberate cover-up of the world’s second worst nuclear disaster.

It took two months for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to own up to the meltdown of three reactors after an earthquake and tsunami. A report commissioned by the company says that its president at the time ordered employees to speak of “damage” to the reactors and avoid the world, “meltdown”.

The company’s current president, Naomi Hirose, said: “It is extremely regrettable People are justified in…

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/fukushima-nuclear-meltdown-was-covered-up-plant-operator-admits-zn25kbwpr

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Extent of TEPCO cover-up over meltdown must be clarified

A panel investigating Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s response to the triple meltdown during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster revealed an unpardonable breach of trust by the operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

But there is still a lot more work to be done by the panel to uncover the full scope of the utility’s apparent meltdown cover-up.

Immediately after the catastrophic accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, then TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu instructed employees not to use the term “meltdown,” leading to a delay in the official announcement, according to a report compiled by the investigation panel commissioned by the company.

A reactor meltdown, or the melting of nuclear fuel in the core of a reactor, is about as bad as it gets.

The panel’s report suggests that in the middle of this unprecedented nuclear disaster the top official of the plant operator was trying to conceal the severity of what was unfolding from the public, including people living in areas around the plant.

For four long years, TEPCO kept giving false explanations about the delay in the announcement of the reactor meltdowns to Niigata Prefecture, which was demanding the truth of what happened. The company claimed it did not have the criteria for defining and determining a meltdown. The firm also said no in-house instruction was given to employees telling them not to use the term.

In February this year, however, the company said it had “found” an in-house manual that spelled out such criteria and set up the third-party panel of legal experts to get to the truth about the delayed announcement of the meltdowns.

With the revelations made in its report, can the panel claim it has accomplished its mission?

We have to say the answer is “no,” although the disclosure of the former TEPCO president’s instruction concerning the meltdowns is definitely a step forward.

What is particularly baffling is the opinion about the president’s instruction voiced by Yasuhisa Tanaka, the former president of the Sendai High Court who headed the investigation. “We cannot say for certain that there was a deliberate cover-up by the company,” Tanaka said during a news conference.

At the time of the accident, a reactor meltdown was defined by the nuclear disaster special measures law as an emergency situation that must be reported. The conditions of the reactors at the Fukushima plant fulfilled TEPCO’s criteria, which say a meltdown means that 5 percent or more of the core of a reactor has been damaged.

But the utility initially denied that a meltdown was happening, while the president instructed employees not to use the term. If this was not a cover-up, what was it?

Also questionable is the panel’s suggestion that the TEPCO chief was probably acting on requests from the prime minister’s office in giving the instruction. The panel interviewed about 60 former and current TEPCO officials, but no government officials or bureaucrats who were involved in dealing with the crisis.

In explaining the panel’s failure to interview key government officials, Tanaka said, “Our authority to investigate is limited, and it is difficult (to uncover the entire truth) in such a short time.” But the panel didn’t even request interviews with them.

Both Naoto Kan, who was then prime minister, and Yukio Edano, who was chief Cabinet secretary, rejected the allegations that the government told TEPCO not to declare a meltdown.

As for the related requests made by Niigata Prefecture, TEPCO says it will continue its joint efforts with the prefectural government to uncover the facts.

The company has a responsibility to clarify the broad picture of the accident and publish the findings of its probe. But the Diet has its own role to play.

Whether the prime minister’s office actually asked TEPCO not to declare a reactor meltdown is not the only remaining mystery about the exchanges between the government and the company during the crisis. Only some fragments of information about the communications between the two sides have been revealed.

A Diet investigation committee has drawn up a report on its inquiry into the accident. But there are still many questions that the Diet should try to answer by using its right to investigate state affairs.

We need to learn all vital lessons from the devastating nuclear accident so as to avoid making the same mistakes.

That requires unearthing all the related facts first. It is our responsibility to tackle this challenge for future generations.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606180026.html

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Lawmaker Denies Pressuring TEPCO Not to Say ‘Meltdown’

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Yasuhisa Tanaka, center, chairman of an outside investigation team appointed by the operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo Thursday. Two other lawyers of the team are: Zenzo Sasaki, left, and Toshiki Nagasaki.

A Japanese opposition leader who was a senior official during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant crisis denied Friday that he or the prime minister at the time pressured the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. not to use the term “meltdown.”

Democratic Party Secretary-General Yukio Edano called a special news conference to refute a finding in a new report that then-TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu apparently came under political pressure not to use the word. The report did not find direct evidence of that.

“The fact that I or then-Prime Minister (Naoto) Kan ordered or requested then-President Shimizu to avoid using the term ‘meltdown’ under any circumstance does not exist,” Edano said. He said the timing of the report was suspicious ahead of an Upper House election next month.

The report released Thursday by a team of three lawyers appointed by TEPCO found that an instruction from Shimizu to avoid using the term “meltdown” delayed full public disclosure of the status of the nuclear plant, which suffered three reactor meltdowns after a major earthquake and tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese coast on March 11, 2011.

The utility used the less serious phrase “core damage” for two months after the disaster.

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 did not say it constituted a “meltdown,” the report said. Yet the company’s internal manual defined a meltdown as damage to more than 5 percent of the fuel.

In May 2011, TEPCO finally used “meltdown” after another computer simulation showed fuel in one reactor had almost entirely melted and fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, and that the two other reactor cores had melted significantly.

TEPCO has been accused of softening its language to cover up the seriousness of the disaster, though the investigation found TEPCO’s delayed acknowledgement did not break any law.

In the 70-page report, the lawyers said Shimizu instructed his deputy not to use the word “meltdown” during news conferences immediately after the crisis. TEPCO’s vice president at the time, Sakae Muto, used the phrase “possibility of meltdown” until March 14, 2011.

Video of a news conference that day shows a company official rushing over to Muto when he was about to respond to a question, showing him a memo and hissing into his ear, “The prime minister’s office says never to use this word.”

Yasuhisa Tanaka, the lawyer who headed the investigation, said interviews of 70 former and current TEPCO officials, including Muto and Shimizu, showed that Muto had planned to use the word “meltdown” until he saw the memo, which has not been found.

“Mr. Shimizu’s understanding was the term ‘meltdown’ could not be used without permission from the prime minister’s office,” Tanaka said at a news conference at TEPCO headquarters. “The notion that the word should be avoided was shared company-wide. But we don’t believe it was a cover-up.”

Edano criticized the report as “inadequate and unilateral,” and said the team didn’t talk to him or Kan.

Tanaka said his investigation, which did not interview any government officials, could not track down what exactly happened between Shimizu and the prime minister’s office.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear regulatory unit at the time, was also reluctant to use the word. Two spokesmen were replaced between March 12 and 13, 2011, after suggesting meltdowns had occurred.

TEPCO has said the delay in confirming the meltdowns didn’t affect the company’s response to the emergency.

The issue surfaced earlier this year in a separate investigation in which TEPCO acknowledged that a company manual had been overlooked, reversing its earlier position that it had no internal criteria for a meltdown. TEPCO has eliminated the definition of a meltdown from the manual in revisions after the Fukushima disaster.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/utility-head-blamed-late-mention-fukushima-meltdown-39902188

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

DPJ leaders deny urging cover-up of Fukushima meltdown

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Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., speaks in Tokyo on June 16 after an investigation team released its report on the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Former government leaders vehemently rejected suggestions in a report that they were pulling the strings behind a suspected meltdown cover-up when the Fukushima nuclear disaster was unfolding in 2011.

The report, compiled by an investigation panel commissioned by Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled nuclear power plant, said Masataka Shimizu, who was TEPCO president at the time of the accident, instructed employees not to use the term “meltdown,” leading to a delay in the official announcement.

But the report also implied that Shimizu was acting on orders from high up in the government.

Yukio Edano, who was chief Cabinet secretary of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis on March 11, 2011, described the report as preposterous.

As far as I know, it is unthinkable for government officials back then to ask TEPCO to do such a thing,” Edano, now the secretary-general of the opposition Democratic Party, told reporters on June 16.

He accused the panel of merely skimming the surface of the matter and sidestepping the truth behind the instructions to avoid using the term “meltdown.”

It is utterly irresponsible for the panel to say that it did not uncover that (Shimizu) was instructed by who and what,” he said.

The third-party panel of legal experts said in the report released on June 16 that it can be assumed that Shimizu understood that he was requested by the prime minister’s office to seek its approval beforehand if the company were to announce the “meltdown.”

The panel also said it would be difficult to conclude that TEPCO’s delay in declaring the meltdown was a “deliberate cover-up.”

Since TEPCO released information on radiation levels inside the reactors and other related data at that time, just not using the term meltdown cannot be described as an act of a deliberate cover-up,” the panel said.

TEPCO declared the meltdown at three reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in May 2011, two months after it occurred.

According to the report, Shimizu entered the chief Cabinet secretary’s office, which is located at the prime minister’s office building, by himself on March 13, 2011. The following day, Sakae Muto, vice president of TEPCO, explained the conditions of the reactors at the plant.

During the news conference, Shimizu handed a memo to Muto through a TEPCO public relations official, telling him not to use the word “meltdown” on the instructions of the prime minister’s office, according to the panel.

Naoto Kan, who was prime minister at the time of the disaster, denied giving the instruction to TEPCO.

I myself have never given directions to TEPCO not to use the expression ‘meltdown,’” Kan, a member of the Democratic Party, said in a statement.

One reason for the lack of clarity in the report is that Shimizu, who was interviewed twice for a total of four hours, said, “I do not remember very well” with regard to who gave what instructions.

Another TEPCO employee interviewed by the panel said Shimizu “was under tremendous pressure and must not have a detailed recollection.”

The panel interviewed about 60 former and current TEPCO officials but no government officials and bureaucrats who were involved in dealing with the crisis.

Our authority to investigate is limited, and it is difficult (to uncover the entire truth) in such a short time,” said Yasuhisa Tanaka, the lawyer who headed the investigation.

Tanaka and another panel member, Zenzo Sasaki, a former prosecutor at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, were also in charge of the third-party investigation into the accident conducted in 2013.

That investigation, based on interviews of TEPCO officials, came under fire for “only arbitrarily presenting TEPCO’s argument that is convenient to the company.”

The findings by the latest panel showed TEPCO officials looking into the nuclear disaster were aware of Shimizu’s order not to use “meltdown,” but TEPCO’s in-house investigation team did not include it in its report in 2012, apparently believing it was not significant enough to mention.

TEPCO’s efforts to share information inside the company were insufficient,” Tanaka said. “It lacked consideration for local governments, which should have been top priority.”

The revelation that Shimizu ordered the avoidance of “meltdown” fueled feelings of distrust toward TEPCO among local governments hosting TEPCO nuclear power plants.

We are still in this stage of the investigation even five years after the accident,” said Toshitsuna Watanabe, mayor of Okuma, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima plant.

Hirohiko Izumida, governor of Niigata Prefecture, home to TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, called for a further investigation to reveal the whole picture of the Fukushima disaster.

We need to step up efforts to uncover what has not been sufficiently investigated before,” he said. “TEPCO, as an organization, should make a sincere response without hiding anything.”

The latest panel was established in March at the request of the Niigata prefectural government’s technology committee, which aims to determine why TEPCO waited until May 2011 to announce the triple meltdown.

TEPCO initially said it did not have the criteria for defining and determining a meltdown.

But it announced in February this year that the company “found” an in-house manual that explained whether a meltdown was taking place.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606170063.html

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Utility Head Blamed for Late Mention of Fukushima ‘Meltdown’

An outside investigation team appointed by the operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant said Thursday that an instruction from the company’s then-president to avoid using the term “meltdown” delayed the full disclosure of the status of three reactors.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. described the condition of the three reactors as less serious “core damage” for two months after a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant.

The panel of three TEPCO-commissioned lawyers said the company used the milder term despite knowing that the damage far exceeded its meaning, because of the instructions by then-President Masataka Shimizu. The report said he was apparently under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, but that the panel did not find direct evidence of that.

TEPCO reported to the authorities on March 14, 2011, that the damage, based on a computer simulation, involved 25 to 55 percent of the fuel but did not say it constituted a “meltdown,” the report said. The company’s internal manual defined a “meltdown” as a core condition with damage exceeding 5 percent of the fuel.

In May 2011, TEPCO finally used the description after another computer simulation showed fuel in one reactor had almost entirely melted and fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, and that the two other reactor cores had melted significantly.

TEPCO has been accused of softening its language to cover up the seriousness of the disaster. But the investigation found TEPCO’s delayed acknowledgement did not break any law.

In the 70-page report, the lawyers said Shimizu instructed his deputy not to use the word “meltdown” during news conferences immediately after the crisis when officials were peppered with questions about the reactor conditions. TEPCO’s vice president at the time, Sakae Muto, had used the phrase “possibility of meltdown” until March 14, 2011.

Video of a news conference that day shows a company official rushing over to Muto when he was about to respond to a question about the conditions of the reactors, showing him a memo and hissing into his ear, “The Prime Minister’s Office says never to use this word.”

Yasuhisa Tanaka, the lawyer who headed the investigation, said interviews of 70 former and current TEPCO officials, including Muto and Shimizu, showed that Muto had planned to use the word “meltdown” until he saw the memo, which has since not been found.

“Mr. Shimizu’s understanding was the term ‘meltdown’ could not be used without permission from the Prime Minister’s Office,” Tanaka told a news conference at TEPCO headquarters. “The notion that the word should be avoided was shared company-wide. But we don’t believe it was a cover-up.”

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear regulatory unit at the time of the accident, was also reluctant to use the word. Two spokesmen were replaced between March 12 and 13, 2011, after suggesting meltdowns had occurred.

Government and parliamentary investigations have suggested officials, seeking to play down the severity of the Fukushima Dai-ichi crisis, resisted using the term. Tanaka said his investigation, which did not interview government officials, could not track down what exactly happened between Shimizu and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister’s Office has denied putting any pressure on TEPCO and the safety agency over language. But previous investigations of the accident show it demanded they coordinate with the office and unify approaches before making any announcement.

TEPCO has said the delay in confirming the meltdown didn’t affect the company’s emergency response at the plant. Although the reactors have been stabilized significantly, the company is still struggling with the plant’s decades-long decommissioning.

Delays in the announcement of meltdowns surfaced earlier this year in a separate investigation in which TEPCO acknowledged that a company manual had been overlooked, reversing its earlier position that it had no internal criteria for a meltdown. TEPCO has eliminated the definition of a meltdown from the manual that was revised after the Fukushima accident.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/utility-head-blamed-late-mention-fukushima-meltdown-39902188

June 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco chief likely banned use of ‘meltdown’ under government pressure: report

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The president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. during the Fukushima nuclear crisis told employees not to publicly use the term “meltdown,” apparently in response to government pressure, a third party report released Thursday said.

The report, compiled by three lawyers, said it is highly likely the government at the time pressured Masataka Shimizu, then Tepco’s president when the monstrous earthquake and tsunami disabled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, about the utility’s disclosures in the early stages of the crisis.

The report said someone in the government, then headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan, was unhappy Tepco had revealed a photo of the blown-up building for reactor No. 1 on March 12 without telling the government in advance.

The Prime Minister’s Office then called Shimizu the same day. After Shimizu returned to Tepco’s Tokyo headquarters, he told his fellow executives that they needed to check with the Prime Minister’s Office whenever disclosing information to the public, according to the report.

The report also said Shimizu sent a note on March 14 to Vice President Sakae Muto, who was overseeing the plant and holding a news conference, to warn him not to say meltdown.

“Considering this fact, it is presumable that the Prime Minister’s Office requested Shimizu to be careful about admitting to a meltdown in public,” the report said.

The panel thought this was a critical point that required further investigation but was unable to track down a specific bureaucrat who made such a request. Yasuhisa Tanaka, who headed the panel, said it conducted hearings with 60 Tepco employees but did not talk to anyone from the government side.

Tepco did not acknowledge that a reactor meltdown had occurred until May 15, 2011 — two months after the fact.

Asked whether Tepco was intentionally covering up the meltdowns, Tanaka said that was probably not the utility’s intention at the time.

“Looking at the situation back then, we think it was difficult for Tepco to use the term meltdown because even the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency couldn’t use it” due to apparent government pressure, Tanaka said.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency was Japan’s nuclear watchdog at that time.

The panel spent about three months investigating why Tepco could not publicly reveal the meltdowns occurred earlier than it did.

In February, nearly five years after the crisis, Tepco announced it should have declared the meltdowns earlier, citing the existence of a company manual that listed what constitutes a meltdown. The manual says that meltdown is a state in which 5 percent or more of the fuel rods is damaged.

As of March 14, 2011, Tepco estimated that 55 percent of the fuel rod assemblies in reactor No. 1 and 25 percent of those in reactor No. 3 were damaged but did not declare that they had melted until May that year.

Niigata Prefecture has been pressuring Tepco to look into why it took about two months for the utility to admit to a meltdown.

Niigata hosts Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, which the firm desperately wants to restart, but Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida has stressed that he won’t give the green light until the Fukushima crisis has been thoroughly investigated.

Tepco had explained to Niigata that it did not use the term meltdown because there was no clear definition of it. But it found the manual in February, which contradicted the explanation and led to the third-party investigation.

The report said that workers at the Fukushima plant were apparently following the manual but seemed to avoid using the term meltdown, presumably because there was a common understanding within the company not to use it.

Tokyo Electric changed its name in April to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

http://jtim.es/kuKR301jNdr

 

June 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Panel: Use of words ‘core meltdown’ banned

tepco told to avoid meltdown june 16 2016

A panel report says a former president of Tokyo Electric Power Company had instructed its officials not to use the words “core meltdown” in explaining the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The panel says the president banned use of the words following what he said was an instruction from the prime minister’s office.

TEPCO admitted meltdowns at 3 of its reactors at the Fukushima plant 2 months after the March 2011 accident. It had instead explained that the reactors’ cores had been damaged.

A third-party panel was set up by the utility in March to investigate responses to the accident. It submitted the probe results on Thursday.

The panel report says then-TEPCO president Masataka Shimizu instructed a vice president, who was attending a news conference 3 days after the accident, not to use the words “core meltdown.”

The report says the ban was conveyed to the vice president through a public relations officer and that it was explained as an instruction from the prime minister’s office.

But the panel says it did not carry out investigations of the prime minister’s office and that it could not gain details of the instruction through interviews with Shimizu and other officials. Such details include which member of the prime minister’s office gave it and how.

Another panel set up by the Niigata prefectural government has also been investigating TEPCO’s handling of the accident.

TEPCO earlier told the Niigata panel that it did not use the words “core meltdown” because there is no concise definition of them and that using the words may have given misleading information.

The third-party panel referred to the fact that it took more than 2 months for TEPCO to admit core meltdowns.

The panel report says it cannot say this was improper because TEPCO officials could not determine whether core meltdowns had taken place by inspecting the reactors at that time.

But the report also says core meltdowns were being mentioned within the company at that time and that it could have admitted the phenomena externally.

A panel jointly set up by Niigata Prefecture and TEPCO is expected to carry out further investigations of the matter.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160616_32/

 

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June 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco admits they concealed the fact of meltdown

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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.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/tepconews/library/archive-j.html?video_uuid=y3a6i6b2&catid=61697

http://fukushima-diary.com/2016/06/tepco-admits-they-concealed-the-fact-of-meltdown/

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

“TEPCO reveals only handful knew meltdown manual existed”

Too Late…

Although a manual existed that outlined the criteria for a meltdown, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted that only five or so employees at its main office knew of it at the onset of the 2011 nuclear crisis.

Those employees belonged to a section that manages the manual at the company’s Tokyo headquarters, TEPCO said at a news conference on May 30.

The utility has been under fire for the delay in acknowledging in May 2011 that triple meltdowns took place at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, two months after they actually occurred following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

TEPCO had maintained that the reactors at the plant suffered “core damage,” rather than more serious meltdowns.

Explaining the delay, the company initially cited a lack of guidelines for determining a meltdown.

But TEPCO admitted in February this year that the company manual did contain entries defining a meltdown, although the company said it was unaware of the descriptions for the past five years. The criteria requires the company to declare a meltdown when damage to a reactor core passes 5 percent.

Takafumi Anegawa, chief nuclear officer with TEPCO, told the news conference that a third-party panel will investigate why it took the company five years to disclose the existence of the manual.

In April, a TEPCO senior official admitted that he knew of the criteria when the crisis was unfolding at the plant.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605310068.html

 

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO official knew standard for meltdown at Fukushima

Yuichi Okamura, the senior director of nuclear power generation knew. In a recent press conference he said that it was his personal knowledge as to what was the meltdown standard. Mr. Okamura has worked in the industry for 20 years. He did not elaborate about TEPCO’s manuals or the knowledge of others. At the time of the disaster he was tasked with dealing with the spent fuel pool at unit 4.

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. senior official has admitted to knowing the criteria to assess reactor meltdowns during the onset of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

However, it took the company two months to make the declaration and another five years to “discover” its operational manual, which would have allowed it to declare a meltdown.

Until February this year, TEPCO had justified the delay in that it did not have the “basis to determine” such an occurrence. It announced Feb. 24 that it discovered a guideline in its operational manual.

TEPCO admitted that meltdowns had occurred in May 2011, two months after the disaster.

Yuichi Okamura, a senior director on nuclear power generation, said in a news conference on April 11 that he knew of the standard, although emphasizing it was only his “personal knowledge.” He did not elaborate on whether he knew the existence of the operational manual, or whether he shared his “personal knowledge” with other staff members.

“I, in fact, knew it (the criteria),” said Okamura. “I learned it while working in the field of nuclear technology with the company for over 20 years.”

According to Okamura, at the time of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, he was directing the pumping of water into the cooling pool of spent nuclear fuel rods of the No. 4 reactor. He said he was not in a position to make a declaration whether a meltdown had occurred.

He made the admission in response to a question asking his personal understanding of the situation at the onset of the crisis.

Okamura declined to comment on whether he is being questioned by a third-party panel investigating the accident.

In February, TEPCO revealed that it did not realize for the past five years that there was a clear guideline in the operational manual to assess that a meltdown in a reactor had occurred. The standard requires the company to declare a meltdown when damage to a reactor core exceeds 5 percent.

TEPCO took two months to declare the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima plant, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. It had initially maintained that the reactors suffered “core damage” rather than meltdowns.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604120056.html

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO gives unconvincing excuse for delay in meltdown declaration

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, said Feb. 24 that it could have declared the reactor meltdowns at the plant much earlier than it did.
The utility said it discovered a guideline in its operational manual that would have allowed it to announce core meltdowns only three days after the plant was struck by the tsunami in 2011 instead of the two months it actually took.
In a Feb. 24 news conference, a TEPCO official said the manual had been discovered for the first time earlier in February.
But the company’s explanations about the delay in announcing the meltdowns, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, and the recent “discovery” of the document are by no means convincing.
TEPCO initially maintained that the reactors suffered “core damage,” a condition in which nuclear fuel inside a reactor core is damaged, rather than a “meltdown.” It did not admit that meltdowns had occurred in the three reactors until late May 2011, more than two months later.
The utility claimed it had taken so long to acknowledge the meltdowns because there was “no basis” for making the judgment.
But this claim has proved false. At that time, TEPCO was suspected of concealing facts to make the accident look less serious than it actually was. The latest revelations revive such suspicions.
In a statement on Feb. 24, Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida called on TEPCO to conduct a thorough internal investigation to uncover the “truth behind its concealment of meltdowns,” including determining who gave the instructions.
Niigata Prefecture is home to TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which the company aims to restart. Izumida has every right to make the demand.
Even more baffling is the “discovery” of the manual nearly five years after the nuclear crisis broke out.
Back then, core meltdowns were clearly defined as nuclear emergencies under the nuclear disaster special measures law. Given that TEPCO has been very sensitive to the question of whether trouble at a nuclear power plant, no matter how minor, should be reported to the government, it is hard to believe that the company failed to remember the standard concerning meltdowns.
It is clearly impossible to directly confirm whether a core meltdown is taking place during a severe nuclear accident.
That’s apparently the reason why TEPCO established a clear criterion for a nuclear meltdown that required the company to declare a meltdown when damage to a reactor core exceeds 5 percent.
When a nuclear accident occurs, only the operator of the nuclear plant has access to detailed data about what is happening. Both the government and news media depend on information provided by the plant operator for related policy decisions and news coverage.
A utility’s failure to swiftly offer accurate information about the situation could cause the government to make misguided policy decisions and the media to distribute incorrect reports about the accident.
TEPCO’s report on its investigation into the nuclear disaster, released in 2012, defended the company’s use of the term “core damage.” The report argued that the company had tried to provide accurate information about the conditions of the reactors based on available data by avoiding the term “core meltdown” because there was no clear and widely shared definition of the term.
It cannot be said that TEPCO provided the entire picture of what happened based on exhaustive and effective efforts to identify all the factors involved.
The company’s guideline concerning core meltdowns was “discovered” during an in-house investigation into how the utility responded to the Fukushima nuclear crisis. That investigation was conducted at the request of a technical committee of the Niigata prefectural government.
The prefecture called for a fresh inquiry in connection with TEPCO’s plan to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.
TEPCO has said it will look into how it failed to notice the existence of the guideline through a probe involving outsiders.
The utility should determine who should be held accountable for that failure.
The company also needs to offer convincing answers to such questions as how it will prevent a recurrence and whether problems with its corporate culture played a role. Otherwise, its efforts to regain public trust are destined to fail.
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201602260057

February 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO discovers after 5 years that it could have quickly declared Fukushima plant meltdown

Nearly five years later, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Feb. 24 that it has discovered a guideline in its operational manual that would have allowed it to announce meltdowns in the nuclear disaster in only days instead of the two months it actually took.
TEPCO apologized for failing to be aware for such a long time of the guideline on how to declare meltdowns at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
While the utility announced that reactor cores had been damaged at the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors by March 14 and at the No. 2 reactor by March 15, it did not admit that meltdowns had occurred in the three reactors until May 2011.
Based on its “nuclear disaster countermeasures manual,” which was revised 11 months before the disaster, the utility could have instead declared meltdowns at the three reactors by those dates, it said.
“We sincerely apologize for failing to confirm the presence of the guideline in the manual for five years,” a TEPCO spokesperson said Feb. 24.
The company will conduct an internal investigation to determine why it failed to promptly determine and announce meltdowns based on the manual.
In the few days after the Fukushima crisis unfurled, core meltdowns at the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors dispersed a large amount of radioactive materials into the environment.
Video footage of TEPCO’s in-house teleconferences around the time show that company executives recognized the possibility of meltdowns at the reactors from the early stages of the crisis.
But the company maintained that the reactors suffered “core damage,” a condition in which nuclear fuel inside a reactor core is damaged, rather than a “meltdown” at news conferences and in its announcements. In May it officially acknowledged that meltdowns had occurred.
The utility has explained that the delay was caused by the lack of a basis to assess meltdowns in the wake of an accident.
Early on May 14, 2011, TEPCO confirmed that the No. 3 unit had suffered damage to 30 percent of its reactor core and 55 percent of the No. 1 reactor’s core was damaged, based on rising radiation levels inside reactor containment vessels. It also determined that 35 percent of the No. 2 reactor’s core was damaged on the evening of May 15.
The newly discovered guideline in the disaster countermeasures manual, which was revised in April 2010, stipulates that the company should declare a meltdown when damage to a reactor core exceeds 5 percent, TEPCO officials said.
Company officials failed to announce the meltdowns because they were unaware of the guideline in the manual, according to TEPCO.
The existence of such a standard was confirmed earlier this month during an in-house investigation into how the utility responded to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The investigation is being conducted at the request of Niigata Prefecture where TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which the company aims to restart, is located.
In a statement on Feb. 24, Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida called on TEPCO to conduct a thorough internal investigation to uncover the “truth behind its concealment of meltdowns,” including determining who gave instructions.
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602250043

February 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

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.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160224_33/

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