Monday, March 28, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Prime Minister Kan's Ill-Timed Visit on March 12 to "Learn a Little Bit About Nuclear Power"

The news has been reported elsewhere, but here's one from Yomiuri.

Japan, and the whole world could be paying for his "educational trip".

Yomiuri Shinbun (12:15AM JST 3/29/2011):

 政府の原子力安全委員会の班目春樹委員長は28日の参院予算委員会で、東日本巨大地震発生の翌12日に菅首相が東京電力福島第一原子力発電所を視 察したことについて、「首相が『原子力について少し勉強したい』ということで私が同行した」と明らかにした。 班目氏は「現地で首相が行ったことで何か混 乱があったとは承知していない」と述べたが、首相の「勉強目的の視察」が初動の遅れにつながったとの批判が野党などから相次いでいる。

Haruki Madarame, chairman of the government's Nuclear Safety Commission disclosed in the Budget Committee in the Lower House on March 28 that "I accompanied Prime Minister Kan" to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant because "Prime Minister said he 'wants to learn a little more about nuclear power'." Madarame said it was not his understanding that "Prime Minister's visit caused some confusion at the plant." However, the opposition are criticizing the government that the prime minister's "educational trip" may have caused a delay in the initial response to the crisis at the plant.


Prime Minister Kan visited the plant by helicopter past 7:00AM on March 12, stayed there for about 50 minutes and was briefed on the situation of the plant by TEPCO employees. He then flew over Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures before returning to Tokyo.


In the March 28 Budget Committee in the Lower House, Yukari Sato (LDP) said "Some people point out that the prime minister's visit to the plant delayed the initial response. There are those at the plant who say the release of the pressure was delayed [because of the visit]."


Motohisa Ikeda, Vice Minister of Economy and Industry answered that "people involved had agreed that the release of the pressure had to be done as soon as possible."

 枝野官房長官らの説明などによると、原子力安全・保安院は地震が発生した11日の午後10時段階で、同原発2号機について、12日午前0時50分 には燃料の溶融が起きると予測し、午前3時20分には弁を開放する作業(ベント)を行うとの評価を下していた。しかし、東京電力から「2号機の冷却装置が 動いている」との報告があったため、12日は行われず、実施は15日午前0時2分だった。

According to the explanation given by Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano and others, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agnecy (NISA) predicted at 10:00PM on March 11, the day the earthquake struck, that the fuel meltdown in the Reactor 2 would take place at 12:50AM on March 12, and estimated that the release of the pressure should proceed at 3:20AM. However, TEPCO then reported that the cooling system of the Reactor 2 was working, so the release of pressure [on the Reactor 2] wasn't done on March 12. It ws done at 12:02AM on March 15.


In early hours of March 12, the situation was also dangerous in the Reactor 1, and the government instructed TEPCO to release the pressure. However, it was not carried out until after 9:00AM.

Actually, it wasn't carried out until past 2:00 PM. The Reactor 1 blew up around 3:30PM on March 12.


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