Friday, September 13, 2013

Contaminated Water Problems at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant "A Matter of How to Communicate"

Oh. Here I thought they were about:

  • figuring out where the groundwater and contaminated water are coming from, and how much;

  • diverting the groundwater from the contaminated areas;

  • decreasing the amount of water injected into the reactors to reduce the amount of contaminated water to treat;

  • possibly diluting and dissipating if only tritium is the issue;

  • building welded tanks to replace the assembled tanks;

  • coming up with different ways to cool the reactors that do not rely on continuous injection of water; and

  • creating a human resource management system so that the workers at the plant (other than TEPCO employees) can work with decent training, pay and benefits.

According to TEPCO and Mr. Lake Barrett, a former US NRC official advising TEPCO, it seems it is more about how the problems are explained to the rest of the world, since the contaminated water is well contained.

From NHK News (9/13/2013; part):


Contaminated water "more effort to communicate with the world"


Mr. Lake Barrett, former US NRC official who directed the decommissioning work for 4 years after the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant accident, attended the meeting at TEPCO headquarters as an outside expert.


At the start of the meeting, Mr. Barrett said, "Despite the large amount of contaminated water at the site, I think it is properly contained by the maximum effort [by TEPCO]. It is a difficult problem with the very complex groundwater flow, but I would recommend that the efforts not only be for technical control of the water but also to improve your methods of communicating to the world the situation that's actually there at the site." [From "I would recommend..." onward, it is Mr. Barrett's actual remark as heard on the NHK video.]


Mr. Barrett also suggested that problems should be dealt with before they become problems, and communication be improved by disseminating information in a way that is easy for the general public to understand.


TEPCO's President Hirose said, "With the advice from experts, we will do our best to communicate better with the general public including the fishermen, and to reinforce measures [for contaminated water].

Mr. Barrett, according to NHK World news from 9/12/2013, visited Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on the day before (9/12/2013) and inspected the tanks himself.


Anonymous said...

I like the phrase: 'that problems should be dealt with before they become problems' a lot.
It is logically not possible and makes it very clear that this expert is nothing more than just bubbling these 'management garbage' to collect his very handsome paycheck.
And 'communication be improved by disseminating information in a way that is easy for the general public to understand.' is also a very nice one. A kid of 9 years can come up with that one.
Maybe Tepco should try to tell the whole truth for a change, that would be refressing and highly appreciated by the public.
We, the public, are not complete morans and we have a fairly good idea what is going on.

Anonymous said...

- Run out and get me a kid of 9 years !

Hat tip Groucho.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... How to better communicate 'we're very sorry but we have no choice but to dump large quantities of high level waste into the sea. It won't present any immediate human health issues' etc etc.

Lake Barrett is already on record as saying this.

The lunatics have always been running the asylum - nothing new here.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Damashita can buy them all for him and his family. Fukushima governor should do the same.

netudiant said...

This all is theorizing in the dark, unfortunately.
We do not know the extent of the ground water flow, we only have TEPCO estimates.
We know the level of contamination has dropped by 99%. We believe this is largely because of the ongoing effort to decontaminate the water from the site.
However, it is also possible that the reduction took place because the contaminated water has been flushed through the site by the ongoing ground water flows. If that were the case (and it is a reasonable hypothesis if the ground water flows are several times larger than what TEPCO assumes), then TEPCO's efforts to date have been largely ineffectual.
It is surprising that the Japanese government has not been more interested in determining this basic knowledge essential to understanding what is happening at the site. The installation of the proposed ice wall will certainly be affected by the extent of the ground water flows. yet these have not been independently verified.

Anonymous said...

"...Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant accident..."

Ah yes, so he's good at covering up catastrophes. In other words, he's full of shit.

Anonymous said...

@netudiant: the contamination has dropped by 99% only for cesium, because this is what the current equipment absorbs, as long ALPS is not up and running. And I'm not sure what becomes of the cesium ('sludge' apparently, according to TEPCO, which is another 'problem' in waiting as long as they don't stabilize it, e.g. in concrete)

I think his main point is "problems should be dealt with before they become problems". This is apparently not the Japanese way:
1) Avoid speaking about problems (only rude barbarians do that)
2) The problem blows in your face
3) Apologize, saying it was "beyond expectations"

Maybe hiring a foreigner is not such a bad thing - he may actually talk about problems the 'rude barbarian' way…

Anonymous said...

The corium and the radiation contamination is a MIXTURE, there is no guarantee ONLY tritium is in the groundwater.I guess if you don't TEST, the TEPCO mantra, you don't know. Otherwise, how do you know "only tritium is the issue?"All the water will have to be filtered..and tested to make sure no WHOOOOOPS and other than TRITIUM is in the discharge water to the ocean(s). Since TEPCO follows the "what we don't know, its okay"... Give him a sign.

Anonymous said...

The barbarians here are those who are poisoning vast swathes of our ocean whilst doing everything in their power to convince the world that it's not really happening.

With this culture, Japan is doomed.

If this really is the prevalent mentality, then it's no great loss.

Anonymous said...

The whole "matter of communication" thing is prevalent through society now.

Nobody wants to admit that problems exist, so they just spout bullshit to make people believe there isn't a problem and spend all their time and money attacking people who suggest otherwise.

It works until the unaddressed and constantly growing problems explode on unsuspecting ignorant dumbasses.

Then they spend years spooning off excuses to us about how they had no idea and it's not their fault.

Anonymous said...

Barret's take on communication:
"Fixing Fukushima’s water problem"

While, from a PR perspective, excellently written, the core message I get from it doesn't sit well with me:
- The overall situation is very difficult and, under the circumstances, Tepco has done a great/outstanding job or at least its best possible under the circumstances to get/keep the situation under control.
- Improvements in managing the water situation must be made, but the pubic also needs to understand and accept that not all solutions can or will be perfect. Specifically, the public also needs to understand and accept the necessity of the release of more or less clean water into the ocean.

While Barrett's second main message as well as his suggestions as to what practical improvement measures need to be implemented are probably accurate, statements like the following make his article nothing more than a manipulative PR piece to me:
"Tepco and the Japanese government have done a good job of containing most of the highly contaminated water, which poses the highest risk to the public. They are, however, having great difficulty in managing the overall contaminated-water situation, especially from a public-confidence perspective."

Sounds good, but "highest risk" elimination is not the same as keeping harm from the public. And claiming that the lack of public confidence is the biggest problem Tepco has in resolving the water issue is deliberately manipulative - apart from outright ridiculous. If only the average Joe were able to understand that the water release is necessary, the biggest problem would be solved. Really?

While he later on speaks about an improved water management plan and transparency of the plan to the public to gain the public's confidence in the best possible solutions being found and implemented at Fukushima, for me personally he is completely missing the point:

How about Tepco and/or the Japanese government freely releasing to the public any and all important information collected? That should include all findings of current and potential future risks, dangers, situational assessments, and a much more comprehensive approach of collecting actual scientific data and measurements as well as their publication.

I think everyone understands that the Fukushima situation is extremely costly and technically challenging, to put it mildly. People can also easily understand that things do go wrong from time to time even in the best of circumstances. But past cost-cutting solutions that fail predictively and release of information "as necessary" - i.e., when denial and secrecy no longer work - clearly are the biggest issues when it comes to the public's confidence. Those issues, however, Barrett apparently doesn't want to acknowledge or address and he rather focuses on whitewashing Tepco's and the Japanese government's performance so far.
Nice try, but sorry, it doesn't work for me to gain confidence.

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