9 Day Warning: On March 2nd, NISA disciplined TEPCO on lax equipment checks before meltdown

On March 2nd, approximately nine days before the TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Reactor One melted down, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) formally disciplined TEPCO for failure to conduct inspections on critical pieces of equipment at the Fukushima Number One and Number Two Reactor. NISA found that TEPCO had violated safety regulations and gave them the second lightest administrative punishment possible: 注意の行政処分-chui no gyoseishobun. In other words: orders to be more careful. NISA instructed TEPCO to investigate the fundamental reasons inspections were not conducted, to put in place preventive measures, and to issue them a full report on why inspections were not conducted and the current situation by June 2nd, 2011.

Not only were equipment inspections neglected at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, they were also neglected at the Kashiwazaki Kiriwa reactor in Niigata Prefecture. In 2007, at the same reactor, a strong earthquake resulted in a fire and leakage of radiation. According to Kyodo News and other sources, 375 pieces of equipment were not inspected at Kashiwazaki Kiriwa reactor. At the Fukushima Reactor 1, 33 pieces of equipment, and at the Fukushima Reactor 2, 21 pieces of equipment were not inspected. According to former TEPCO employees one of the pieces that should have been checked was part of the recirculation pump that is used to regulate the temperature of the reactor core of Fukushima Reactor one.

NISA was unable to comment on whether the full mandated report had been received from TEPCO as of  June 20th, 2011. When NISA replies, we will post it here. From the beginning of the crisis, TEPCO has insisted that the cause of the nuclear meltdown was the unprecedented tidal wave (tsunami) which knocked out the electric power systems to cool the reactor but there is increasing evidence which suggests that the cause of the meltdown was the earthquake itself and that it had begun before the tsunami arrived. As for the tsunami being “unforeseeable” (想定外) , this claim is also dubious. Even as early as 2007, TEPCO was allegedly warned that a large scale tsunami was possible and could cause a nuclear meltdown. (Watch here for further updates).

The official press release from NISA on the disciplinary actions towards TEPCO can be found here: http://www.meti.go.jp/press/20110302001/20110302001-1.pdf
TEPCO allegedly failed to check equipment connected to the reactor core recirculation pump. NISA admonished them.

6 thoughts on “9 Day Warning: On March 2nd, NISA disciplined TEPCO on lax equipment checks before meltdown”

  1. very interesting, thanks.
    especially the bit about the earthquake being a cause, please keep on that story! it’s a biggie.

    According to AP, TEPCO’s plan for Tsunamis was written on 1 sheet of paper, in 2001, estimating max. 8.6. NISA let this go, nothing was done for 9 years, when reviewed and reconfirmed as satisfactory. Max tsunami of 5.7 metres envisaged (thus ignored the warnings you indicate, also intimated in the report below):

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hnjifVSi-UcoxLNiB8sFVyUAnGEg

    and Wikileaks revealed government concerns over earthquakes:

    http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/16/wikileaks-japan-was-warned-about-nuclear-plant-safety-cables-s/

    And I see TEPCO is now resisting protecting the ground water because this could affect the stock price:

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/column/archive/news/2011/06/20110620p2a00m0na005000c.html

    I love those guys!

    But overall, you’ve got to hand it to them. According to Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, we now know that Fukushima has released more stuff than Chernobyl (50 million curries) i.e. 40 million into the air, 20 million into the sea, but who would guess that? And still going, of course…..

    And “hot particles” remain a problem (they are the nasty ones that get inside you and don’t show up on Geiger counters as they are alpha/beta not gamma). For excellent analysis overall, see:

    http://www.fairewinds.com/

    Maybe Jake could interview this chap? In his interview with Chris Martenson (a must listen?), he gave some practical advice for people in Tokyo:

    1) Wet dust, don’t dry dust (people have been trucking stuff in on their shoes)
    2) Get a HEPA filter (e.g. plasmacluster air purifier that can take a HEPA filter)
    3) Dont eat fish from the pacific unless you know it was caught over 100miles from Fukushima.
    4) Change your a/c and/or car filter if you have been using it.
    5) Wash your vegetables (I guess fruit too).
    6) Oh yes, and if unit 4 collapses, leave the country. (well, maybe not so practical for most…) (Unit 4 is “leaning”)

    Of course the devil is in the details, eg. should I air my room? Pooh! should we be wearing medical masks? freaky! but better tips than nowt at all.

    Anyway, at least we can rely on the thoughts of Dr Shunichi Yamashita, the radiological health safety risk management adviser for Fukushima prefecture (quoted by Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action):

    “The effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing. They come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret.”

    Good to see the DPJ has put their best man on the case. As you can imagine, the residents of Fukushima are laughing their socks off.

    For a follow up petition on the acceptable radiation level which includes getting that joker removed:

    http://www.foejapan.org/infomation/news/110610.html

  2. and more power to you.
    I think you offer just the kind of healthy pitbull journalism that is needed right now!

    sorry, I really dont mean to spam, but just came across this today which might also be of interest, although you are probably aware. Just in case:

    TEPCO’s use of casual foreign labour, including your compatriots, to skirt radiation levels whilst covering up a defect in the “shroud” (drum that surrounds reactor core).

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/06/24/japan-nuclear-re-idUKL3E7HO0FE20110624

    頑張って下さい!

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