Tepco admits it should have declared meltdowns at Fukushima plant much earlier

by

Staff Writer

Nearly five years after the nation’s worst nuclear accident, Tokyo Electric Power Co. has admitted that its staff failed to follow damage assessment guidelines, according to which they should have reported the meltdowns almost immediately.

A Tepco spokesman on Wednesday said the company’s Disaster Management Manual requires a reactor to be declared “in meltdown” if 5 percent or more of its fuel rods are determined to be “damaged.”

Tepco knew the extent of the damage early on. As of March 14, 2011, it estimated that 55 percent of the fuel rod assemblies of the reactor No. 1 and 25 percent of those at reactor No. 3 were “damaged,” based on the levels of radiation detected, Tepco spokesperson Yukako Handa told The Japan Times by phone.

Yet, despite widespread public skepticism at that time, the company refused to use the word “meltdown” for a period of about two months.

This led to widespread public speculation about a cover-up and failure to admit the extent of the damage. The sudden removal of a nuclear regulator spokesman fueled this.

Handa said a meltdown would have been declared if the guidelines had been followed correctly. But she said Tepco reported its estimates of damage to the government immediately — as required by law — and its failure to describe the situation as one of meltdown did not break regulations.

“Executives in charge of public relations at the time of the accident were not aware of the assessment criteria written in the Disaster Management Manual,” Handa said.

“They believed there was no clear definition of a ‘meltdown,’ so they didn’t make any clear remarks about one,’ ” she said.

Handa said Tepco will investigate why it failed to follow the assessment manual.

Wednesday’s announcement by Tepco was the first confirmation that such a manual even exists. NHK broke the news earlier in the day.

Whether to admit a “meltdown” was taking place at the plant was a sensitive topic for both the central government and Tepco from the start.

On March 12, one day after the tsunami knocked out power and cooling facilities, Koichiro Nakamura, a senior official at the now-defunct Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, told a news conference that a “meltdown of a reactor’s core” may be taking place at the Fukushima plant, given the radiation levels detected.

Nakamura was promptly removed from a PR position at the agency, sparking speculation of a government cover-up of something critical underway at the site.

  • Tando

    This is great news, after 5 years we are told that everything was just a misunderstanding. Before that Tepco said that everyone was overreacting and that PM Kan, who tried to clear things up was the one who disrupted emergency measures. On the part of Tepco no one was ever held responsible. It’s very simple in Japan.

    • Starviking

      Kan did disrupt emergency measures – with his abrasive style, disruption of countermeasures, and his swanning into Daiichi the day after the tsunami to get his face on the TV some more.

    • Starviking

      Kan did disrupt emergency measures – with his abrasive style, disruption of countermeasures, and his swanning into Daiichi the day after the tsunami to get his face on the TV some more.

    • Starviking

      Kan did disrupt emergency measures – with his abrasive style, disruption of countermeasures, and his swanning into Daiichi the day after the tsunami to get his face on the TV some more.

      • Tando

        Judging from your comments in the past and now we might es well assume that you are on the payroll of the atomic industry.

      • Starviking

        Ah-a! The “Shill” gambit. Its use indicates that the user does not have anything to rebut that arguments put forth, and that they are probably a conspiracy theorist.

      • Tando

        Fukushima was a manmade desaster caused by Tepco http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jul/05/fukushima-meltdown-manmade-disaster .If you can only find faults with everyone else but Tepco you must definitely on their payroll or else be a naive apologist.

      • Starviking

        I’m sure TEPCO has the usual range of faults for a large Japanese organisation – I just don’t accept that they share all the blame for everything to do with the accident.

        Looking at you link, I find this is a telling statement from one of the politically-appointed investigations:

        It accused Tepco and regulators at the nuclear and industrial safety agency of failing to take adequate safety measures, despite evidence that the area was susceptible to powerful earthquakes and tsunamis.

        And yet, despite the ‘evidence’ that the area was susceptible to powerful earthquakes and tsunamis, no one thought to warn the people living on the Pacific coast of Tohoku? Tens of thousands died.

        you must definitely on their payroll or else be a naive apologist.

        Background in science actually, but for a conspiracy theorist that would be equivalent to being a “naive apologist”, right?

      • Pink Floyd

        Interesting , on many of your posts you try and attack people for being ” conspiracy theorists” seeing as you know it all do you know where that phrase ” conspiracy theorist” comes from? … well it was a phrase the CIA used in the late 1960s to denounce anyone who questioned the official narrative around Kennedy and Marting luther kings assasination.. so in your mind anyone who questions the established logic is some kind of nutjob…

  • Pink Floyd

    Tepco should have been dissolved and heads should have rolled years ago, here we are 5 years later and they now admit they were wrong, too late! … it is mind boggling how no one has really been held accountable for this , no litigation, no real public apology and top brass kept their jobs while the people of Fukushima have been treated like dirt… sickening

    • Vlad TheSkewerer

      I think most initially accountable have died from cancer or leukemia from those “look everything’s fine” PR stunts they pulled in the first few months.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Pave Way IV

        Also (un)commonly caused by aerosolized refractory products and gaseous alpha emitters from things like burning fuel rods. Those airborne radionuclides are trapped in the nose and sinus cavities and swept into the esophagus, where they have plenty of time to hammer chromosomes into cancer factories. In fact, you are much more likely to contract esophageal, stomach or intestinal cancer from particulate airborne radionuclides than you are likely to contract lung cancer from them. This is basic radiation safety knowledge and medical fact. TEPCO’s quack medical science regarding Yoshida is laughable. They paid off his family and medical care team to shut the hell up. Why would they do that if he died of acid reflux-induced cancer?

      • Starviking

        This is basic radiation safety knowledge and medical fact

        Well then I guess you’d have no objection to providing a reference to back-up your claims?

        They paid off his family and medical care team to shut the hell up.

        You should provide a reference for that too.

      • Pave Way IV

        Nuclear Hasbara much? You’re a well-trained parrot, I’ll give you that.

      • Starviking

        So I guess that is your roundabout way of saying you don’t have any references.

      • Pink Floyd

        You are a parrot, that is all you say on every post ” where’s your references” i noticed on some of your posts you reference the BBC, yeah right very reliable source.

      • Starviking

        This is basic radiation safety knowledge and medical fact

        Well then I guess you’d have no objection to providing a reference to back-up your claims?

        They paid off his family and medical care team to shut the hell up.

        You should provide a reference for that too.

      • Starviking

        This is basic radiation safety knowledge and medical fact

        Well then I guess you’d have no objection to providing a reference to back-up your claims?

        They paid off his family and medical care team to shut the hell up.

        You should provide a reference for that too.

      • Starviking

        This is basic radiation safety knowledge and medical fact

        Well then I guess you’d have no objection to providing a reference to back-up your claims?

        They paid off his family and medical care team to shut the hell up.

        You should provide a reference for that too.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

      • Starviking

        Are you referring to Plant Manager Yoshida? He died of esophageal cancer, commonly caused by smoking, drinking, and acid reflux.

  • Roy Warner

    In other news, Amelia Earhart is missing. Pink and Tando are right. There is still no one regulating Japan’s nuclear power industry. Even meltdown doesn’t describe what in all likelihood occurred, that at least some of the fuel escaped containment.

  • VistaOS

    Tell that to the people in Japan with health issues and contaminated water or sea-foods. Is this world piling up with idiots or am I over exaggerating.

    Also, Nuclear related work should be taken seriously, it ain’t a joke. You screw up even once; the entire world suffers the consequence.

    • Starviking

      What health issues?

      • VistaOS

        You should research by yourself. A lot has been covered up, the effects are reaching Alaska and many other areas through contaminated waters and seafood.

      • Starviking

        Really? Prof. Jay Cullen is involved with tracking the radionuclides, and see no health issues involved at all.

      • Pink Floyd

        Keep on drinking that Kool aid.

      • Starviking

        Sorry? You don’t accept evidence from academics involved in tracking the radionuclides?

        Who do you go to for evidence?

      • Pink Floyd

        you are an apologist, maybe you need to do a bit of reading up on things or even better why not go up to Fukushima and help with the clean up operation and get yerself irradiated..

      • Starviking

        Why should I go to Fukushima?

      • Pink Floyd

        Why? to see for yourself the damage that has been done and the lies that have been perpertrated by the Japanese government, where people haven’t had a proper apology or real compensation and kids have been exposed daily to unnatural levels of radiation, not to mention the spike in thyroid cancers in kids… maybe then you will stop defending Tepco.

      • Starviking

        I’ve been in Fukushima many times since the disaster, and taught evacuees who fled it. Personally, you should go visit those still living away from their homes and apoligise for the fear and hype you and your ilk have used to drive their stress levels up and keep them from their homes.

      • Pink Floyd

        Your cognitive dissonance and pro Tepco BS is nauseating, it’s disgusting, let me guess you don’t have any kids right? because if you do i feel sorry for them. you are the sort of person that would feed them fish from the ever increasing radioactive cesspit that is the Pacific ocean just to make a point.

      • Pink Floyd

        I just hope for the sake of humanity that you don’t get into a postion of power over people, your self righteous know it all attitude is very dangerous.

      • Pink Floyd

        I just hope for the sake of humanity that you don’t get into a postion of power over people, your self righteous know it all attitude is very dangerous.

      • Pink Floyd

        Academics? what like Wade Allison a paid up nuclear shill?

      • Starviking

        Is Wade Allison involved in tracking the radionuclides?

      • Pink Floyd

        He is involved in spreading nonsense, like you

      • Pink Floyd

        no he is involved in spreading nonsense like yourself.

      • Sam Gilman

        Could you give me some examples of these effects reaching Alaska?

        I am aware that there are some people trying to conceal the effects of global warming on marine life by claiming it’s all to do with Fukushima Daiichi and not the regular output of the trillion dollar fossil fuel industry. You wouldn’t be one of those people, would you, Vista?

  • Conrad Brean

    So who is going to jail????? Ahhh like the 2008 economic meltdown in the US…no one. Ah democracy….

  • Conrad Brean

    Nakamura was promptly removed from a PR position at the agency,….and is right now standing in some non descript office swinging a golf club at an imaginary golf ball while collecting a huge salary…..

  • Al_Martinez

    But the big secret is still being kept: the meltdown started before the tsunami hit. Sure, the tsunami didn’t help matters, but because of criminally negligent maintenance at the plant over the years, it was actually the earthquake that knocked out the cooling system. This is what the govt. and Tepco don’t want the people to know because of the ramifications this fact would have for all the other nuclear reactors sitting on or nearby faults.

    • Starviking

      Source?

      • M.D.H.
      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Pink Floyd

        no not convincing to a paid up pro nuclear troll.

      • Starviking

        Ah! Another shill-gambit in play. The conspiracy theorists are strong in this thread.

      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Starviking

        It’s a bit deceptive – he states once that he’s talking about the Shoreham Plant in the US, then conflates it with Dai-ichi.

        Not convincing.

      • Sam Gilman

        M.D.H., did you notice how the engineer’s first hand account that Greg Palast relies on was written in English?

        Do you think perhaps that might have alerted you to the fact that it referred to a different reactor in a different country? I don’t mean to shock you, but not every country has English as the main language. Those squiggly symbols – 1986 – mean it was a different year too.

        Is that your evidence?

      • Pink Floyd

        TEPCO are the ones to blame for the whole thing, they built the reactor at sea level rather that higher up to save money and they scrimped on building a proper tsunami wall because of costs… also anyone with a brain who has investigated this will know that the meltdown started before the tsunami hit … yes thats right before it hit.

      • Starviking

        They built the reactor near sea-level because there was no evidence of a recurrent tsunami in the 60s. They increased the height of tsunami walls when new evidence emerged. They were investigating the recently discovered recurrent tsunami that had hit the Sendai Plain when the tsunami occurred.

        also anyone with a brain who has investigated this will know that the meltdown started before the tsunami hit … yes thats right before it hit.

        And yet, despite your brain, you have been unable to provide any solid evidence for your claim.

      • greenthinker2012

        I would also like to see some evidence to support your claim that the meltdown happened before the tsunami.

      • Pink Floyd

        The evidence was covered up , they did their best to make it look like the reactors were hit by the tsunami at first when in fact the tsunami just finished the job off… major cover up that Tepco has managed to get away with and the self censoring Japanese journalists havent really dug into the story on that one.

      • greenthinker2012

        If there is no evidence then how do you know?

      • Al_Martinez

        Check out:

        The explosive truth behind Fukushima’s meltdown

        In the Independent

  • Starviking

    Meanwhile, in an alternate world where TEPCO immediately declared a meltdown, The Japan Times castigates them for the deaths caused by a panicked public fleeing Fukushima, and states they should have considered the “full picture” rather than just following a manual.

  • bridgebuilder78

    Wait, what? There has been a meltdown at Fukushima? That’s the first I’ve heard of it!

  • fromjapan

    deceptive authority of Japan insist on “Safety at Fukushima”.

    but Japan’s ministers,the ruling party politicians and bureaucrat never stay for a long time at Fukushima.

    Thier behavior have showed dangerousness.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • J.P. Bunny

    They should have reported the meltdown, but didn’t. Maybe they were hoping that nobody would notice.

  • Liars N. Fools

    There was no clear definition of “aggression” either during Imperial Japan’s annexation of Joseon either. Interesting when Japan plays the meaning of word game.

  • Starviking

    You need to face facts – the tsunami markers are on the Sanriku coast, not on the Hamadori coast where Dai-ichi is located.

    • Pink Floyd

      oh so there has never been a tsunami in the Hamadori coastal area before in Japanese history? … i am tired of your apologist nonsense this is my last post .. good bye and good luck with your pro Teoco sell out crap on other discussion boards.

      • Starviking

        this is my last post

        Well that’s a relief!

        (By the way, I never said anything about tsunamis never hitting Hamadori – but conflation is a common problem for conspiracy theorists)

      • Pink Floyd

        changed my mind, not my last post, had enough of your pro tepco bs.

      • Pink Floyd

        changed my mind, not my last post, had enough of your pro tepco bs.

      • Pink Floyd

        changed my mind, not my last post, had enough of your pro tepco bs.

  • Starviking

    Of course you are a conspiracy theorist – you stated that I am:

    a paid up pro nuclear troll

    Something that you have no evidence for.

    I took a quick look at your link – interesting that it states that a 7.5 mag earthquake was predicted for the area – not a 9.0 one.

    • Pink Floyd

      Hope they are paying you well, sell out.

  • Al_Martinez

    “I prefer the NRA report”

    Hope that works out for ya.

    • Starviking

      It does. Lots of technical details and explanations.

  • Joffan

    Conspicuously lacking from all of this fuss and bother is any indication that using the term “meltdown” would have meant anything would have been done differently. Because it wouldn’t.

    Tepco talked about fuel damage from early on, in percentages that match this yawn-worthy “revelation” that they should have called Fukushima meltdowns earlier than they did. So they didn’t hide the state of the plant – they just talked cautiously about their state of knowledge of the wrecked plant rather than jumping straight to the panic button. And a good thing too.