Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TEPCO Chairman Press Conference - Last 30 Minutes

The conference lasted for 2 hours, it just ended. I watched the USTREAM channel of Yasumi Iwakami, a freelance journalist. I don't think it was on TV in Japan.

Here's the last 30 minutes of Q&A with the press. It's rather pathetic. The reporters don't seem to know, or don't seem to want to know, what to ask. I had a hard time trying to figure out what the hell they were trying to say. It is no wonder that TEPCO people do not answer. The press and TEPCO don't seem to talk the same language, but it's not just TEPCO's problem.

Quickly browsing through the tweets from the Internet viewers as the conference progressed, I get the feeling I'm not alone in thinking that way: that the press is part of the problem. I think we could ask much better questions. Why does none of the journalists there think of crowd sourcing the questions? It's the face, I guess.

TEPCO's chairman looked old, lean and stoic.

Following is a quick and dirty "simultaneous translation" that I typed while I listened. Questions were answered by TEPCO Chairman Katsumata, except when noted (VP Muto added his comment on one of the questions). TEPCO answer in bold, blue.


??? (missed the name of the journalist):
What will have to happen for the nuclear energy to be "reborn"? [Is he insane?] What will be the effect on "Pluthermal" projects (i.e. MOX fuel reactors)?
- Pluthermal will be delayed. It will be up to the government to decide what to do.

Prospect of nuclear power generation as infra:
- will probably shrink. Personally, I don't know yet.
Compensations for the victims
- How the law will be applied, we will have to discuss with the government for details

Nikkei Nozawa:
Prime Minister Kan's mention of revision of energy strategy (nuclear focus), will the energy strategy change?
- it is very difficult at this point to figure out.
Your three E (environment, economy, energy?) will they change?
- I still believe this three Es are essential.
Your regrets? what you should have done?
- We're sorry that the accident happened, will form a committee to analyze what went wrong.

what will be the process for solving the problem? Will you show it to the people?
- As soon as possible, we would like to share it, but now we can't say when.
What's unknown right now should still be shared, what do you think? Is the government preventing you from disclosing?
- no not the government, it's just too unclear at this point.
How about milestones? We don't even know what the milestones are.
- first and foremost is to cool the reactor. Water is in the turbine room, and unless that's cleared, electrical systems can't be restored.
- second, salt in the system, how to remove them
- third, how to lessen the radioactive fallout, and absorb them
- lastly, how to block the radioactive fallout
- while monitoring the regional data. Of course we have to work with the government.
- how to remove nuclear fuel rods form the pools and RPVs
We're working on them now (he's referring to the PM's work groups). But there is no concrete time line we can share at this point.

NHK Hanada:
Delay in pluthermal:
- Pluthermal plants have been well accepted, but there are a few we still work on winning the approval. May be difficult in light of the accident. Of 6 fuel reprocessing plants - Aomori is suspending.

Response Nakajima:
Rolling blackout and fee hike planned?
- We don't have fee hike schedule. As we don't know our cost basis because of nuclear power [the plant accident]. We aren't planning on the fee hikes, but we cannot say we won't raise.

US nuclear plant construction by TEPCO what will happen?
- South Texas project. Probably the US may reconsider how to proceed, it will be difficult for TEPCO to continue, partly due to cost (that will be incurred by this accident).
Effect on EUrope/US, developing countries, message to these countries
- We apologize for the ill-effect on their nuclear effort.

radiation exposure underestimated?
- Work had to be done in a very difficult condition. instruction from TEPCO should have been clear, and we will improve.
plutonium wasn't included in accident management?
- (MUTO) it takes time to analyze plutonium, so it is practical to measure more easily measurable materials. Plutonium was measured when fuel rods damage was suspected.

Prime minister, when did you meet him?
- Occasionally he calls us. He last asked questions about water drains.. His staff call too.
Human work is ultimately needed to wind down this crisis?
- it is not possible for humans to enter high radiation area. With the help from US, we will have to figure out which work is to be done by humans and by robots.
[The reporter insisted on getting the affirmative answer to his question that "in the end human workers will be needed to wind down the crisis", but he didn't get his wish.]


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