New footage from Tepco shows discussions leading to release of radioactive water into Pacific after Fukushima nuclear meltdowns

Kyodo

Tepco has disclosed additional video footage of its in-house teleconferences during the early stage of the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima No. 1 complex, showing tense exchanges between the utility’s employees prior to the controversial discharge of radioactive water into the Pacific.

The roughly 336 hours of footage made available by Tokyo Electric Power Co. to the media Friday — recorded last year from March 16 to 23 and March 30 to April 6 — show the difficulties the company faced in handling the volume of highly contaminated water that was rapidly building up in the basements of reactors 5 and 6.

The recordings show Masao Yoshida, chief of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant at the time, telling Tepco’s head office in Tokyo on April 4 that there wouldn’t be enough time to build tanks to store all of the radioactive water.

“Please make some kind of decision,” Yoshida is seen pleading with senior Tepco officials in the new footage. “Handling the water is an urgent issue.”

In response, Tepco executive Ichiro Takekuro says: “We have to make an important decision. After this meeting is over, we will immediately discuss it.”

After the conversation, Tepco, the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Nuclear Safety Commission decided — as an emergency step — to release water contaminated with relatively low levels of radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean. The move met with harsh criticism both at home and abroad.

The actual decision-making process was not captured in the footage released Friday. Tepco said the decision was reached in a separate room that lacked teleconferencing facilities.

The utility estimates that 18,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials were spewed into the Pacific between the start of the triple-meltdown crisis at the No. 1 plant on March 11, 2011, and this September.