Friday, June 17, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 2 TEPCO Workers Who Exceeded 600 Millisievert Radiation WERE Wearing Masks, No KI Available Until Too Late

Remember the news on June 3 about 2 TEPCO employees working at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant exceeding 600 millisieverts in radiation exposure, with extremely high internal radiation?

At that time, the blame was placed on the workers for not taking the potassium iodide pills as scheduled and not wearing masks - what disregard for safety!

When the management blames workers, the management is hiding something bigger and more serious, I've been told.

No newspaper or TV station pursued the news after June 3, until TEPCO announced the result of its investigation of the incident on June 17.

As I had suspected, it had nothing to do with the workers' errors.

They wore dust masks as instructed, and even those they had to take off to eat food, and there was a gap between the mask and the eyeglasses for one of the workers that cannot be closed due to the design. As to potassium iodide pills, they didn't take them initially because there was none where they were (the central control room for the Reactors 3 and 4), when they mattered most (March 11 and 12 and 13).

They were working, eating, sleeping in the central control room for the Reactors 3 and 4 until 4PM on March 13, with dust masks and no potassium iodide.

Here's some information about the incident from the 25-page report attached to the TEPCO's press release on June 17 (available in Japanese only):

1. The 2 workers worked mostly in the central control room for the Reactors 3 and 4.

2. About masks:

  • On March 12, long before the Reactor 1 building blew off (3:36PM), the radiation level started to go up as indicated by the exhaust pipe monitoring at the central control room, around 5:04AM.

  • The manager in charge of the shift at that time instructed the workers to wear dust masks inside the control room, and charcoal masks when going outside.

  • The 2 workers followed the instruction and were wearing dust masks. Dust masks cannot filter out radioactive iodine, and charcoal filters may have become less effective as they were used for extended period of time until the fresh supply could be delivered.

  • At that time, there were 15 charcoal masks, 50 pairs of charcoal filters, and 300 masks [without filters attached?面体] for the Reactors 3 and 4 workers.

  • One of the workers wore eyeglasses, and that left a gap between the full-face mask and the face. There is no way to seal the gap, according to TEPCO.

    [It is extremely hard for me to believe there is no mask for people wearing eyeglasses.]

  • The 2 workers had to eat and sleep in the central control room until 4:00PM on March 13. While eating emergency food in the central control room, they had to take off the masks. The door to the central control room got warped by the impact of the Reactor 1 bldg explosion, and didn't properly close.

  • When the Reactor 1 building blew up on March 12, there were workers outside working without any mask.

3. About potassium iodide pills:

  • TEPCO had 30,000 pills stored in the building off the Reactor 1 (where the plant headquarters are; many workers still live there) prior to the accident. They were not stocked at the central control rooms.

  • The company instructed on March 13 [AFTER the Reactor 1 building blew up on March 12] that the workers less than 40 years of age take potassium iodide pills. For the workers 40 years of age and above, the pills would be given if they requested.

  • The 2 workers couldn't start on the pills until they moved to the building where they could get potassium iodide until 4:00PM on March 13.

This is borderline criminal, particularly about potassium iodide. From the detailed reports that TEPCO suddenly disclosed in mid May, the company knew from the beginning of the accident (evening of March 11) that the reactors may have been breached; they were measuring a very high air radiation at the plant on March 11, which they correctly attributed to a breached Reactor Pressure Vessel. They also knew the venting of the Reactor 1, which was scheduled on March 12, would release a large amount of radioactive materials in the air. And they waited until March 13 to instruct workers to take potassium iodide?

And the company had a gall to blame its own workers at first. Now that it has turned out that the company was to blame, the incident is due to the unfortunate confusion in the early days of the accident.


Anonymous said...

Kinda off-topic, sorry. Just wanted to ask if you have seen this and what you make of it

Anonymous said...

Unfortunate confusion is the sole responsibility of plant management. Clear emergency procedures should have been in place, sufficient equipment, trained staff, and instructions should have been pre-positioned on and off-site.

Because there was not ONE suitable mobile emergency diesel generator to be found in Japan, three nuclear reactors went pop.

Niigata said...

Hello Ex-SKF,

I wanted to give you interesting information about cesium tea of Shizuoka:

Tonight I found an article in a French newspaper, stating that the French customs will be blocked and destroy green tea from Shizuoka.
But the most interesting is the level of radiactivité revealed by customs:
"1038 Bq / kg, exceeding the maximum permissible level set at European level, which is 500 Bq / kg for this type of product." This is much higher than that found by Radish Boya in Tokyo ...

We can have confidence in the measurements of radioactivity from the Japanese government. 100% confidence given the results found in France!

Here is the link of the article:

Please, give this information for your japanese reader, to protect at least the ones you read ... those who still believe the official propaganda, we can not do anything for them


arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@niigata, thank you for the link. There are also several others who have mentioned the same news here. I will post that to my Japanese readers. That's really high number, and that, I assume from the final blend tea.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

OK, so now we know why the PhD governor of Shizuoka was so adamant about not testing the tea. This fits with the government discouraging independent medical monitoring.

As for the over exposures they should have made them run through a teargas tent during all the training that they obviously never did back when they were being "Safe" (before the accident). Proper respirator discipline is crucial in hazardous environments. How many of these guys had facial hair after a few weeks at the TEPCO Hilton? Facial hair in some people (beards sideburns) can impact the fit of a mask as much as eyeglasses. I would have cut the arms off of my glasses short enough to fit inside the mask. Then I would either glue super magnets to the inside of the mask or my head if I had to. Then I'd do the same to the eyeglass arms. They make optical inserts for most high end masks but not on short notice. I would have improvised something or stayed out of the fight until my optical insert came in.

"Q: Am I able to wear glasses with a full face respirator?
A: In order to wear your prescription with a full face respirator you need to purchase the mask’s spectacle kit separately."

As you can see a full face setup can be pricey. TEPCO must have been counting their pennies to come up with 300 mask "shells" and only 50 filter sets. I wonder how long it took them to get filters for the shells? In a facility serious about safety the filter cartridges generally outnumber the shells at least two to one. The filter cartridges don't work forever they can reach "breakthrough" in a few hours of heavy work in a humid environment. One other pathway to internal radiation hazards is exposed eyes (Conjunctiva) or any injuries that break the skin.

It is totally unexcusable that they didn't setup a proper place for eating, drinking (smoking?!?!) and going to the bathroom. Every person there should have been warned of the special protocols necessary to operate in a contaminated environment.

Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job:

I guess it time to trot out the "Nuclear Ginza" documentary link again.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

@ Areva did you see they are still messing with Monju

Japan Strains to Fix a Reactor Damaged Before Quake

"A top manager at the plant recently committed suicide, on the day that Japan’s atomic energy agency announced that efforts to recover the device would cost almost $21.9 million"

(If only every nuclear "Biggu Bosu" was as honorable)

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Robbie, thanks for reminding me. I was checking up on that monster reactor but didn't follow up. The loose clutch NYT is talking about seems like a design flaw. One of the claws was off by 90 degrees, and so the device couldn't grab. Duh.

Japanese have this unfortunate tendency to not be able to stop what they started. Often, it is a virtue. But in crisis, it makes crisis worse and worse.

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