Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kyodo: Teleconferencing System at Prime Minister's Residence Was Not Connected When #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident Happened

Nearly 13 months after the start of the worst nuclear accident in Japan, Kyodo News reveals that the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, which served as the government headquarters to deal with the nuclear crisis, was unplugged and offline at the time of the accident.

The reason? Nobody knows. The SPEEDI/WSPEEDI simulations were never used for anything at all (other than probably scaring the government officials), and nobody knows why.

From Kyodo News (4/3/2012):

官邸のテレビ会議未接続 保安院などと、福島原発事故時

Teleconferencing system at Prime Minister's Official Residence was not connected when the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident happened, couldn't connect to NISA, etc.


It was revealed on April 3 that the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Official Residence was not connected when the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident happened in March last year. It was supposed to be plugged in to the dedicated line set up by the national government that connects the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the Off-Site Center in Fukushima, and the affected municipalities.


The teleconferencing system is installed in a conference room on the 4th floor of the Residence, not in the crisis management center in the basement. Normally, the system was not connected, and only temporarily got plugged in during the nuclear emergency drills. The system was provided after the recriticality accident at Tokai-mura in 1999. It costs 500 to 600 million yen [US$6 to 7 million] per year to maintain the line. Yet another case of not utilizing the disaster prevention system during the Fukushima accident.

I wonder who the vendor was for the teleconferencing system. I suspect it may have been unplugged for good reasons.

Top makers of teleconferencing systems in Japan are (according to this site):

Polycom Japan (subsidiary of California-based Polycom)
Tandberg (a Cisco company)
LifeSize (a Hitachi company)

My guess is either Sony or the Hitachi subsidiary, if the system was put into place in 1999. Proprietary system, probably, hard to maintain and prone to malfunctioning.


Anonymous said...

"for good reasons" ? I am not sure I understand your meaning of "good". Or are you ironical ?

If you mean it was unavailable because it was broken, do you say that "broken" is "good" ?

Anyway, thanks for the news.

Anonymous said...

or - it wasnt unplugged at all

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

"good" reasons = reasons that seemed good and legitimate to the people involved.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the clue contained in the sentence "Normally, the system was not connected" ?

Perhaps the people who knew how to connect the system were not available on that day ? What is strange is that the system appears to have been OK during the drills.

Kyodo news does not say if someone tried to connect the system, but the system would not be available, however hard they tried, because the system was broken or something, or if nobody tried.

Perhaps the people who were involved during the drill and who knew how to start the system were absent for some reason. Perhaps the knowledge about the system was lost somewhere... Knowledgeable people were retired and were not replaced, perhaps.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

My guess is the proprietary system (either Sony or Hitachi) didn't boot up, and there was no techie bureaucrat at hand (if there was one).

Anonymous said...

It is already known that the offsite center could not connect with the affected municipalities. ボタンを押すだけで、自治体の担当者の携帯電話に自動的に連絡が入る「一斉招集連絡システム」も停電で作動しなかったということです。http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/genpatsu-fukushima/20120302/index.html

So the core of the present news is that the Prime Minister office in Tokyo could not connect with the NISA in Tokyo with the teleconferencing system that was supposed to be used.

Anonymous said...

Like so much of modern electronic equipment that is nearly impossible to use, overloaded with useless features but built to fall apart at a set rate so that manufacturers can sell you more junk at a set pace. Go to an electronics store in Japan sometime and be amazed at the storehouse of electro-gadgets, which are alienating people from one another while at the same time people no longer have real relationships other than with their machines. Welcome to the Machine. Nuclear Drones on the horizon!

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

See my latest post: http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2012/04/teleconferencing-system-update-it-didnt.html

It looks like they totally forgot they had such a system, in a panic.

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