Tuesday, February 28, 2012

AP: "Probe finds Japan withheld risks of nuke disaster"

Here's AP's Japanese reporter's take on the report by the private independent investigation commission set up by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF).

One of the issues that AP focuses in the article below is whether TEPCO did want to abandon the plant on March 15. The private RJIF commission sides with the Kan administration that TEPCO did, and only PM Kan's strong word persuaded TEPCO to keep a small number of workers to continue to work on the plant.

TEPCO has said all President Shimizu wanted to do was to temporarily remove non-essential workers at the plant. Why? Probably because of the extremely high radiation level on the plant. The radiation spiked up to 1 sievert/hour in the morning of March 16, 2011 (JST), as AP reported on March 15, 2011 (US EST) and BBC mentioned in the documentary "Inside the Meltdown" aired on February 23, 2012.

I wonder if Mr. Kan, who had majored in applied physics (engineering) in his college and became a patent agent after graduation, knew about the radiation level of 1 sievert/hour and still insisted all workers to remain on the plant no matter what, even if there were nothing TEPCO alone could do at that point.

The RJIF has already run out of copies of the report which they printed only a small number of copies. The message on their website says they are thinking of ways to disseminate the report widely.

From AP via Yahoo (2/28/2012; emphasis is mine):

By Yuri Kageyama

TOKYO (AP) -- The Japanese government withheld information about the full danger of last year's nuclear disaster from its own people and from the United States, putting U.S.-Japan relations at risk in the first days after the accident, according to an independent report released Tuesday.

The report, compiled from interviews with more than 300 people, delivers a scathing view of how leaders played down the risks of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that followed a massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The report by the private Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation also paints a picture of confusion during the days immediately after the accident. It says the U.S. government was frustrated by the scattered information provided by Japan and was skeptical whether it was true.

The U.S. advised Americans to leave an area within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the plant, far bigger than the 12-mile (20-kilometer) Japanese evacuation area, because of concerns that the accident was worse than Japan was reporting.

The misunderstandings were gradually cleared up after a bilateral committee was set up on March 22 and began regular meetings, according to the 400-page report.

The report, compiled by scholars, lawyers and other experts, credits then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan for ordering Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility running the plant, not to withdraw its staff and to keep fighting to bring it under control.

TEPCO's president at the time, Masataka Shimizu, called Kan on March 15 and said he wanted to abandon the plant and have all 600 TEPCO staff flee, the report said. That would have allowed the situation to spiral out of control, resulting in a much larger release of radiation.

A group of about 50 workers was eventually able to bring the plant under control.

TEPCO, which declined to take part in the investigation, has denied it planned to abandon Fukushima Dai-ichi. The report notes the denial, but says Kan and other officials had the clear understanding that TEPCO had asked to leave.

But the report criticizes Kan for attempting to micromanage the disaster and for not releasing critical information on radiation leaks, thereby creating widespread distrust of the authorities among Japanese.

Kan's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Kan acknowledged in a recent interview with The Associated Press that the release of information was sometimes slow and at times wrong. He blamed a lack of reliable data at the time and denied the government hid such information from the public.

It will take decades to fully decommission Fukushima Dai-ichi. Although one of the damaged reactor buildings has been repaired, others remain in shambles. A group of journalists, including a reporter from The Associated Press, were given a tour of the plant on Tuesday.

Workers have used tape to mend cracks caused by freezing weather in plastic hoses on temporary equipment installed to cool the hobbled reactors.

"I have to acknowledge that they are still rather fragile," plant chief Takeshi Takahashi said of the safety measures.

The area is still contaminated with radiation, complicating the work. It already has involved hundreds of thousands of workers, who have to quit when they reach the maximum allowed radiation exposure of 100 millisieverts a year.

The report includes a document describing a worst-case scenario that Kan and the chief of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission secretly discussed two weeks after the disaster.

That scenario involved the possibility of more nuclear fuel rods burning, causing the release of more radiation and requiring the evacuation of a much wider region, including Tokyo.

The report also concludes that government oversight of nuclear plant safety had been inadequate, ignoring the risk of tsunami and the need for plant design renovations, and instead clinging to a "myth of safety."

"The idea of upgrading a plant was taboo," said Koichi Kitazawa, a scholar who heads the commission that prepared the report. "We were just lucky that Japan was able to avoid the worst-case scenario. But there is no guarantee this kind of luck will prevail next time."


Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Okuma, Japan, contributed to this report.


Chibaguy said...

I am a bit confused if anyone can help - What exactly is this worst case scenerio that they keep referring to? Personally, I think it means telling the truth. Secondly, when were the reactors brought under control and which reactor has been repaired? These questions are not to you ex skf.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Well can I still answer?

Worst case scenario that the Kan administration declared it didn't exist: http://ex-skf-jp.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-post_5776.html (in Japanese)

Basically, everything that happened plus meltdown of Reactors 5 and 6 and all spent fuel pools. Meltdown of spent fuel pools were what they were particularly afraid of.

Chibaguy said...

Thank you ex-skf. I will read the link in Japanese when I get to a computer. I hope three MIA coriums were a part of their best case.

Chibaguy said...

I forgot the "not" above. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if Mr. Kan, who had majored in applied physics (engineering) in his college and became a patent agent after graduation, knew about the radiation level of 1 sievert/hour and still insisted all workers to remain on the plant no matter what"

It was the right decision. Without those people, the SFPs would have caught fire. That would have meant the end for Tokyo and for Japan in general.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

I'm talking about ALL workers who were at the plant when Kan insisted that they stay in a place with 1 sievert/hr radiation, and not about the so-called "Fukushima 50" who remained.

Anonymous said...

OH, hello laprimavera. So nice to be talking to you in real time for once! I really appreciate what you 're doing here btw.

Back to the point: in the event, a lot of people had to be brought from the outside to help the "Fukushima 50", such as firefighters from Tokyo and the JDF.

Disaster management IS a government job, to be sure, but the plant should have been TEPCO responsibility. I do not think that evacuation of all personnel is a good way to discharge that responsibility.

Compare and contrast, if you will, with the attitude of the company running Three Mile Island.

There was immediate, massive response. A crisis team was on site in hours. Carter came to see what was going on, but didn't have to yell at anyone - they were doing their jobs, not scurrying like rats.

The shift operators had to be dragged bodily out of the control room - they were tired and shocked and making mistakes and still they didn't want to leave.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

I don't think TEPCO was planning to evacuate ALL workers. In this, I tend to believe TEPCO.

And I wouldn't describe plant workers when Kan came barking as scurrying like rats. I would do so for TEPCO's headquarter management but not the workers at the plant who were doing their jobs.

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

Frontline hosted by Dan Rather aired tonight on PBS. It has some interesting insight into these questions; although their timeline seemed off in events. Apparently, Kan did place the order knowing the workers could die and apparently the plant manager did ask for an evacution of all employees but was not granted one. 200 of the workers were allowed to leave. It's pretty much the same in the U.S. I have been in a criticality alarm before and as fast as you go to your designated role call site the guards show up just as quickly to make certain that no one is going anywhere; Not that anyone would try to cross razor wire. The point being if there is a chance to stay a disaster someone has to be there to do it. Naturally it is not a good feeling and it is only human nature to want to flee. They really don't pay enough for the work in my opinion to force that on the employees but that is the way it is to date. It should be a volunteer basis only because quiet frankly only volunteers are going to have the character to do what has to be done correctly and those that do stay should receive a bonus equal to Goldman Sachs. From what I remember the American workers at Fukushima knocked down the front gates to escape and never looked back until they were state side. LOL, can't say that I blame them either after seeing how miserably it was all handled. The Frontline show seems to imply the explosions all happened because the workers did not vent the buildings and did not get water on the fuel in time which is not true they needed to be getting the water off the fuel and not onto it and applying noble gas. They are still no where near stable today. Tokyo should have been evacuated and still should be today. Kan just would not do it because he knew the economic impact on Japan. He had silently ordered more than just 50 workers in place. He has ordered millions in place without them even having a choice in the matter. His name will go down in infamy in Japan when time passes and they understand what he knowingly did.

Anonymous said...

Someone asked for a worst case scenario. I think Edano mentioned it in an interview recently. It would have been radiation levels making impossible water injection in the cores and the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi, which would have eventually meant all 3 containments would have exploded leaving a hole in the ground like at Chernobyl spreading fresh nuclear fuel all over the place and directly into the ocean, or water at the spent fuel pools would have boiled, pools would have dried and the spent fuels would have caught fire at all 6 reactors plus the common spent fuel pool. Since Daini is only around 6 miles south of Daiichi, workers would have had to evacuate there also, which adds another 4 reactors out of control and 4 spent fuel pools plus another common spent fuel pool releasing radiation into the air and the Pacific. And finally the same for Tokai-mura NPP, which is another plant, I think 60 miles south of Fukushima Daiichi, which only has one reactor but is closer to Tokyo.

Chernobyl was only one reactor after all, and it contaminated 40% of Europe. Adding 11 reactors plus the spent fuel pools, I don't know by how much we would have to multiply total radiation releases in that case, how high land contamination would have been (depends on the wind direction, etc.), how wide the area to evacuate, what would have been the level of contamination in the Pacific, how much contamination would have reached North America as compared to now, etc.

Aimelle said...

About the worst case scenario:
M. Jacques Repussard, director of IRSN, the french official agency (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire = Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute) says the same that Anon 1:47.

To be heared (in french) here:

M. Repussard stresses on the fact that leaving the plant would have made any return impossible, ending in the catastrophe described by anon 1:27, with incredible levels of radioactivity.

Anonymous said...

Kan came barking precisely because the TEPCO managers were refusing to make decisions, threatening to pull out completely and generally letting the chips fall where they may.

The impact of his barking was good, in that TEPCO did not abandon the plant. It was bad, because the frightened rats at TEPCO HQ delayed the venting even more.

I resent deeply, by the way, the idea that the SAMG were thrown out the window because they were inappropriate to the situation at hand.

They are called severe accident management GUIDELINES precisely because they are supposed to cover the unforeseen.

By the way, the guidelines for Fukushima stated clearly that venting is to be done, if needed, regardless of the status of the evacuation. Yet TEPCO waited and waited.

They ignored the manual because they were too scared to take the actions that were recommended by it - in the event, it proved to be a wrong decision.

Karen Sherry Brackett said...

It's a debate that will continue for some time. I certainly do not want to take away from the sacrifice and work those 250 who were there and fought it or of the firefighters or the final Fukushima 50. They are all heros as well as the thousands of others who never seem to be mentioned including those who carried and installed the power cables for Daini. The problem is that it is still not possible to approach the areas that need to be investigated to understand the locations of the corium. This is far from being over. A nuclear bomb would have picked those materials up and blasted most of them into space while consuming many more in the reactor that exists in it's mushroom cloud. In the long run it would have been far far better to have bombed it all several times than what has been done but I understand the trauma that the thought of using bombs causes in most minds. A nuclear bomb is thousands of times less material and less radiation exposure. Just like nuclear materials are used in medicine for the good a nuclear bomb can be used for the good as well. If this volcano continues to become active near the plant, this may be the only option they have left. In the meantime, I certainly hope they are moving the material out of five and six and moving it as far out of the area as possible. They need to do this for materail at Daini as well. Japan is just to unstable to assume that another earthquake will not occur. With all the volcanos they really should move toward geothermal for energy anyway. By the way, Chernobyl did not make a hole in the ground. The corium there dropped several floors but it stayed within the building. The sand they dropped over it melted and encased it in glass basically which helped seal the oxygen out. It was a brilliant three week total operation. Not saying their's was perfect but am saying that I appreciate what their workers did as well and that they did it quickly. America's background country wide went up two and half times after Chernobyl. I really dread finding out what it ends up being after Fukushima. Make no mistake thousands will die of cancer from Fukushima worldwide. It's not something for TEPCO or Japan's Prime Minister to be patting themselves on the back for. The Prime Minister at least at the authority to order the bombing but he dropped the ball. With a physics background he had to know after an earthquake there was no way that fuel was anywhere near a safe configuration. I am sorry but I can't forgive him for what he has done. Only Jesus can do that. All I can do is try to make people understand that this is not Chernobyl. Chernobyl is capped and is located on stable ground. This is thousands of times worse.

Anonymous said...

Shut up you stupid bint. Fukushima is not "worse than Chernobyl" and nukes can only make it worse, not better.

You know nothing about nothing and you continue to spew bullshit because you don't know you don't know. Laprimavera is too much of a gentleman to shut you up unfortunately.

Indeed nuclear bombs can do good, but only if the North Koreans cap the well for their next nuke test with your stupid head. Maybe you'd even live long enough to see that nukes do NOT throw stuff into outer space.

Andrew Spagnoli said...

I' ve seen the video... maybe scurrying was not right... but they clearly were bowing and cringeing and averting their eyes. The scene as Kan landed did NOT fill me with confidence. Looked like a gaggle of boot-licking ass-kissers. Oh wait... it WAS. More concerned with career and connection than safety of the public.

Anonymous said...

Obedient bootlickers are promoted into positions of "authority" while the real power is transacted between bad old men behind the scenes. When shit hits the fan, the puppets' strings get cut.

Anonymous said...

A nuclear bomb would have picked those materials up and blasted most of them into space while consuming many more in the reactor that exists in it's mushroom cloud.

WTF. Blasted most of them into space??? That was good for a major laugh.

What we have here is our very own court jester.

apeman2502 said...

Get GE in there. Don't let them leave until their mess is cleaned up. If Obummer protests, drop him in there. Put Bush41 in there. Take and put every American pushing nuclear power in there. Put the Japan government that allowed this thing built and put them in there. It may not appease the gods but it will make ME feel better.
This was an unnecessary thing for inbred idiots with too much money to allow built. I heard a Rothschild give a speech on the web yesterday where he was seriously considering producing huge quantities of dry ice to transport to the North and South Pole to keep them frozen and halt global warming. And he was serious. This is the stupidity that installed the Fukushima facility. It was an American effort. Get GE in there or feed them dogshid until they die. That means we should put The Bilderbergers in there. Especially that retched retard David 'global elite spit brain' Rockefeller, who is as responsible for Fukushima as anybody. Kissinger belongs in there too. Warrants for his arrest for capital crimes in at least 5 countries.Time to clean house after trials. These out of control thimble heads believe themselves to be 'elite superior intellects'. Imagine that. They just have proved they are no better than monkeys with hand grenades, and we are stuck in the cage with them.

Darth3/11 said...

KSB, as long as you persist posting here, at least discover the Enter key on your keyboard. It's that big thing on the right.

AND figure how to get to your point. Jeez.

Better yet, do not post at all.

Pretty harsh of me, but this is a serious blog and you are a major distraction.

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