Wednesday, January 23, 2013

(UPDATED) Newly Released TEPCO Teleconference Video: "It Didn't Occur to Us that Water Puddle Would Be Highly Radioactive..."

(UPDATE) TEPCO, under the new Abe administration, will not release any video to the general public this time. Only the reporters who belong to the Japan Press Club can visit TEPCO's headquarter building in Tokyo and view the video. Some openness.


According to Yomiuri Shinbun, TEPCO has just released the third batch of its teleconference videos in the early days of the nuclear accident at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. No video available so far at TEPCO's site for the general public yet.

As Yomiuri reports, the plant manager Masao Yoshida is heard saying to the TEPCO headquarter people that it didn't occur to him that the water in the turbine building for Reactor 3 could be highly radioactive the next day after the radiation level had been checked.

Three workers from TEPCO affiliate companies were exposed to 2 to 6 sieverts of radiation on their feet on March 24, 2011.

From what little Yomiuri reports, it looks like teleconferencing may not be such a good thing to have during an extreme emergency like this. It may serve to fragment the effort, and have too many people without direct knowledge of the situation dictate the effort, as clearly happened between the plant and TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (1/23/2013):


Possibility of highly contaminated water didn't occur to the plant manager Yoshida, video [disclosed by TEPCO] reveals


On January 23, TEPCO made additional teleconference videos of about 2 weeks. [TEPCO] used the teleconference system that connected its headquarters in Tokyo, the plant, and other locations right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident nearly two years ago to deal with the accident.


TEPCO started to make the videos public in August last year, and this is the third installment. Now the videos that cover the one month period (March 11 to April 11, 2011) have been made public.


This time, the videos cover from March 23 to 29, and April 6 to 11. On March 24, three workers from TEPCO's affiliate [subcontracting] companies were exposed to massive amount of radiation from the highly contaminated water in the basement of Reactor 3 turbine building. It happened because no one had thought that the amount of contaminated water might increase when they had done the survey of the work location, and that the work condition might worsen.


Masao Yoshida, then the plant manager, [is heard] saying "It didn't occurred to us that there might be highly contaminated water, and we took it for granted that (the work condition) would remain the same", and "So many jobs are being done in parallel (simultaneously). I have the feeling that if the headquarters people are the ones who tell us what to do, they may not know enough about what's going on at the plant", showing his dissatisfaction with the TEPCO headquarters that directed many jobs without fully understanding the situation at the plant.

So, Mr. Yoshida is saying TEPCO had surveyed the condition of the Reactor 3 turbine building basement, and didn't think it would be full of highly contaminated water the next day when the workers from affiliate companies entered. That doesn't still explain the testimony of one of the affiliate company workers that TEPCO workers also entered the basement the same day, and they withdrew after measuring 400 millisievert/hour radiation in the water.

TEPCO workers could have told the affiliate workers to get the hell out, but that clearly did not occur to them either.

On March 25, 2011, that water "puddle" in the Reactor 3 turbine building basement was:

  • 1.5 meter deep; and

  • had 3.9 million becquerels per cubic centimeter.

From March 20 to March 23, 2011, black smoke was rising from the wreckage of Reactor 3 building. During the same period, elevated levels of radiation were measured in wide areas in Tohoku and Kanto. Some "event" may have been happening in Reactor 3; one researcher, Fumiya Tanabe, speculates that's when the melted core in Reactor 3 Pressure Vessel melted through the RPV down to the Containment Vessel, as the amount of water being injected dropped to 24 tonnes per day (probably due to high pressure inside the RPV) from the previous 300 tonnes per day.

For more on the affiliate worker's allegation and the incident on March 24, 2011, see my November 1, 2012 post.


Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with Yoshida's inferred general assessment that is has to be the plant manager and his immediate staff directing and coordinating any and all work efforts, not someone at corporate headquarters. He (or she) has the technical knowledge and knows the on-site conditions best. Headquarter's role should be to supply whatever the plant manager needs locally and deal with regional and political issues only.

That would obviously not guarantee that no mistakes or oversights will happen, but it would be the best practice approach to avoid them as far as possible.

Anonymous said...

Aliens will come down and see these videos after we're all gone and cry at the stupidity preserved within them.

Anonymous said...

laprimavera, did they publish the videos for the days between March 21 and March 23? A far as I know, we still don't know exactly what happened at the plant during those days, and whatever happened was the source of the contamination in south Ibaraki, NW Chiba and Tokyo, etc. I remember Tepco announced they were going to vent, a few hours later they said that a vent was not going to be necessary, but the radiation levels went up anyway.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

I'll check...

Anonymous said...

10:20AM, they will title the videos " Land of The Rising Cluelessness," volumes 1-4.

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