Monday, April 21, 2014

Telephone Game for N+1 Time: From #Fukushima I NNP "Not Sufficiently Managed" to "Out of Control" in Three Simple Steps

It hasn't happened for some time, this telephone game over the Fukushima nuclear accident mostly due to translation errors (intentional and unintentional). The last one I wrote about in the English blog was in September 2013, and that was about the world as we knew back then ending because of the "collapsed" exhaust stack at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

I wrote about the not-so-brilliant comment by Mr. Akira Ono, plant manager of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, in an April 19, 2014 post. He said he would make the switches for emergency temporary pumps "tamper-proof", which I argued would defeat the purpose of easy access in an emergency.

In that same post, I also noted that Reuters had two different stories to tell in its Japanese article and its English article on the same topic of contaminated water routed to wrong buildings.

And as I suspected, the Reuters English article got quoted by the US media (I haven't checked the UK media) and morphed. It will be soon imported back to Japan as "credible and reliable English-language source which would always tell the truth".

It started out as a solid, fact-based article in Japanese by Reuters Japan (4/17/2014). Mr. Ono's comment comes in the very first paragraph (English translation is mine):


Routing contaminated water to wrong buildings at Fukushima I Nuclear Power plant is due to "insufficient management", says Plant Manager Ono


Mr. Akira Ono, plant manager of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, spoke with the press on April 15 and commented on the problem of about 203 tonnes of contaminated water having been routed to wrong buildings, saying "I am ashamed. We haven't been able to sufficiently manage the plant (or we haven't been able to manage the plant as sufficiently as we would like)," admitting to inadequacy of the plant management. He said [the company] will investigate and come up with countermeasures.

Then, when the article was translated into English and arranged for English-speaking readers, three things happened.

First, the article title and the opening paragraph dropped the mention of routing water to wrong buildings and associated Mr. Ono's comment with contaminated water management in general.

Second, Mr. Ono's comment was translated incorrectly - even if it is not technically wrong, that's not what Japanese would understand hearing Mr. Ono.

Third, Mr. Ono's comment was severed from the context; then the context - that Mr. Ono was speaking about the particular incidence of routing water to wrong buildings - was placed after Mr. Ono's comment.

And this is the end result, also by Reuters but in English (4/17/2014; emphasis is mine):

Manager at Japan's Fukushima plant admits radioactive water "embarrassing"

The manager of the Fukushima nuclear power plant admits to embarrassment that repeated efforts have failed to bring under control the problem of radioactive water, eight months after Japan's prime minister told the world the matter was resolved.

Tokyo Electric Power Co, the plant's operator, has been fighting a daily battle against contaminated water since Fukushima was wrecked by a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government pledged half a billion dollars last year to tackle the issue, but progress has been limited.

"It's embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don't have full control," Akira Ono told reporters touring the plant this week.

He was referring to the latest blunder at the plant: channeling contaminated water to the wrong building

This naturally invited one English-language media outlet called "nsnbc" to totally separate Mr. Ono's comment, and added some fluff on their own to create a familiar fantasy world of doom.

From nsnbc (4/19/2014):

TEPCO’s Fukushima Manager: “Embarrassing, but we don’t have control”

TEPCO’s manager of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP), Akira Ono, has begun to come clean on contamination control at the site. Akaira Ono broke the iron discipline admitting that it is embarrassing, but TEPCO’s attempts to plug the leaks of radioactive water have failed. But have Ono and TEPCO really begun to come clean? The site is so volatile that an earthquake could force TEPCO to abandon the site and a meltdown of tons of spent fuel rods.

Making that statement, the manager of what, arguably, is the world’s most hazardous work site, the Fukushima Daiichi manager contradicted last year’s statements by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that the situation at the nuclear power plant was under control. Talking to journalists, Akira Ono said:

“It is embarrassing to admit it, but there are certain parts of the site where we don’t have full control”.

Then finally, "I am ashamed, we haven't been able to sufficiently manage the plant" turned "embarrassing...we don't have full control" turned "we don't have control" has turned into "out of control" today.

From Zero Hedge (4/21/2014; emphasis is mine):

Fukushima Manager Admits Water Woes "Out Of Control", Refutes Lies By PM Abe

...As Japan Times reports, the manager of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has embarrassingly admitted that repeated efforts have failed to bring under control the problem of radioactive water.

Zero Hedge quotes Japan Times, which is the Reuters English article.

At any moment now, I am fully expecting a tweet in Japanese proclaiming "See, the plant is totally out of control! It's all in the English language media! They must be right! We aren't told the truth!"

(The last I heard, the truth is STAP cells , which Ms. Obokata encountered more than 200 times. Maybe TEPCO needs to hire Ms. Obokata as a spokeswoman who would exclaim, with tears in her eyes with full makeup and neatly curled tresses, "The plant is under control! It's the truth! I've seen it 200 times!" Maybe male journalists would then flock to her defense...)


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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

How can this gross incompetence be so atypical?

I would sooner walk than take a Japanese airline anywhere. I'd sooner walk than buy a Japanese car.

Japan! The epitome of mediocrity!

VyseLegendaire said...

I think the plant situation is out of control and I didn't have to follow this labyrinthine narrative to come to that conclusion

Anonymous said...

Vyse, "out of control" is not equal to "not sufficiently managed". There are 2,000, 3,000 workers there every day, working. That doesn't seem "out of control" situation.

Anonymous said...

The plant situation IS out of control. Every day a new story of incompetence and negligence leading to greater and greater releases of radionuclides.

Every week a discovery of reactor fuel particles even further away from the plant. This week it's plutonium particles discovered 160km from Fukushima Daichi.

It's called snafu or fubar.

Anonymous said...


Gurdjieff would have people excavate a hole and then fill it back in.

Was "control" one of his lessons?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ono words (恥ずかしい話。十分に管理できていない) are very strong: my understanding is that they are tantamount to tendering a resignation.
I guess, however, that he will keep his post, because his bosses know they put him in such a position that he can not do any better.

Obviously the plant is largely out of control; just imagine whether in a different context (say, an oil refinery) such a long string of gross mistakes would be tolerated.

@3:51 (is it you yourself, Primareva-san?)
According to NHK Chernobyl still employs 3,000 people to babysit a single blown up reactor, more than 25 years after the fact. Tepco is using a similar number of workers for four reactors, three years after the fact and the site is out of control.


Anonymous said...

P.S. I wonder what would happen if another degree 6 earthquake hits the weakened structures at Fuku 1 and four fuel pools collapse into the ground.

One single fuel pool, uniformly spread, is reportedly capable of making the entire US inhabitable.


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