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Tokyo Power company had deep Yakuza ties, ignored warnings from its most senior engineers

A petulant Tokyo Electric Power Comp. (TEPCO) (TPE:9501) vowed on Monday to come clean about details it had long denied or refused to confirm regarding radiation leakage from its Fukushima nuclear power plant and employee exposure to radiation.

I. TEPCO Owns up to Leakage Lies

Masayuki Ono, the company's spokesman, at a regular monthly news conference, confirmed for the first time that TEPCO was aware of the leakage of radioactive water into the sea and groundwater.  TEPCO had previously denied that any radioactive waste had reached the sea even as radiation began to spike in sea and groundwater samples.  The company was eventually forced to begin to revise its tune in May after a coastal well sample showed abnormal levels of dangerously radioactive Caesium-137, a "sticky" radioisotope with a half-life of 30 years.

The company claims that most of the leakage entered the groundwater shortly after the March 2011 meltdown of reactors at the southern Fukushima "Daiichi" plant.  It claims that its preventive efforts have since blocked significant amounts of additional radiation from leaking out of the sealed shells of the ruined reactors.

Fukushima disaster
The smoldering remains of a Fukushima reactor. [Image Source: Reuters]

TEPCO believes that a large amount of leaked material, though, is still lingering in the ground table near the plant.  There's concern that tides and rainwater may eventually wash that contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean bay near the plant.

On Monday TEPCO also revealed that it is embarking on a complex strategy to try to block the wastewater from reaching the ocean.  The plan involves injecting chemicals into the ground near the coast to solidify it, in an attempt to block the flow of contaminated ground water.

Mr. Masayuki, in his company's mea culpa, remarked, "We are very sorry for causing concerns. We have made efforts not to cause any leak to the outside, but we might have failed to do so."

The company also admitted that the amount of employees exposed to dangerous doses of radiation was much higher than previously published.  TEPCO admits 10 percent of its plant workers -- 1,972 total employees -- had radiation doses of 100 millisieverts (mSv) or more, roughly 10 times the "safe" radiation limit.  All of these employees now face elevated risks of cancer.  TEPCO refutes, though, numbers from a 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) report which indicated roughly a third of workers -- 178 of 522 checked -- were exposed to >100 mSv (~34%) doses.

II. Managers Tied to Yakuza, May Face Criminal Negligence Charges

Currently fish and seafood from the Fukushima region is banned from sale, both domestically and internationally.  That ban has cost the local economy millions, if not billions of dollars in losses.  

An estimated 1T ¥ ($13B USD) will be required to decontaminate large areas of land surrounding the plant.  The area surrounding the plant, once heavily populated, is now largely abandoned.  The city of Fukushima in total lost an estimated 60,000 residents -- or roughly 20 percent of the population -- has left the region.

TEPCO manager
TEPCO's greedy/incompetent managers, like VP Sakae Muto rejected engineers' safety advice and purposefully maintained a dangerously unsafe design to pad their profits.
[Image Source: Reuters/Toru Hanai]

Analyses indicated that meltdown of the 40-year old reactors could have been avoided if business people at TEPCO had merely agreed to follow the advice of their engineers.  In a 2007 report the company's senior safety engineer warned that there was a 10 percent chance per decade of a tsunami sweeping over the 6-foot floodwall.  The report advised either switching to waterproof backup generators or raising the wall to prevent a total loss of power and subsequent catastrophic meltdown.

But TEPCO's managers were too greedy and incompetent to heed that warning from their technical experts and called the risk "acceptable".  In fact, in 2012 it was revealed that TEPCO had ties to the Yakuza -- a criminal Mafia-like organization in Japan.  Local ring leader Makoto Owada had supplied workers to the Fukushima plant since at least 2007, taking a cut of their earnings.

TEPCO chairman
TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata's has been tied to criminal Yakuza dealings.  He and his fellow managers may face criminal charges for negligence. [Image Source: AFP]

Japanese officials are currently probing the Fukushima situation trying to decide whether to charge TEPCO officials with criminal negligence, a crime which carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment under the island nation's penal code.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun

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Nice going.
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 2:38:19 PM , Rating: 4
Hey, thanks you dipsh1ts. Now you've got the whole of Japan, and significant portions of the rest of the world, convinced that nuke plants are just inherently unsafe and we shouldn't use them.

Like the mouth-breathing whoreds needed any further prodding.

RE: Nice going.
By retrospooty on 7/23/2013 2:42:27 PM , Rating: 3
"Like the mouth-breathing whoreds needed any further prodding."

RE: Nice going.
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2013 2:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
Well luckily for them the ignorance of others is not something that is their fault.

RE: Nice going.
By Labotomizer on 7/23/2013 3:25:14 PM , Rating: 4
At least they're considering sending them to jail for... 5 years. You know, for endangering thousands of people, ruining a local economy, forcing the Japanese government to say that they're going to retire all nuclear power and scaring the rest of the world of what should be a huge portion of our energy portfolio. But, 5 years in jail... Totally legit.

RE: Nice going.
By Morvannec on 7/23/2013 3:41:50 PM , Rating: 3
They should be made to bath in the sea around the plant for every day of those 5 years.

RE: Nice going.
By nafhan on 7/23/2013 7:48:12 PM , Rating: 4
That would likely have no effect.

Drinking the well water on the other hand... might. That wouldn't necessarily even have an effect, though. Note that they specifically use the wording "abnormally high" rather than "dangerous". To me this indicates that the source article either doesn't know or wants to intentionally misrepresent what's happened. Basically, there's not much in the way of medically interesting info in this article or the source.

RE: Nice going.
By melgross on 7/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: Nice going.
By lightfoot on 7/24/2013 9:23:10 AM , Rating: 3
You're an idiot. Radiation and its effects are well understood. There ARE levels that are considered safe, otherwise there would be no such thing as sunbathing, x-rays or air travel. All of which, when done in moderation, are completely safe.

RE: Nice going.
By Kurz on 7/24/2013 9:29:06 AM , Rating: 2
Radiation actually can have a positive effect on health.

RE: Nice going.
By zhivaji on 7/25/2013 1:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
Wish you good luck. maybe they'll turn out to be like the X-men or Fantastic four characters :-)

RE: Nice going.
By Sunrise089 on 7/24/2013 9:46:50 AM , Rating: 3
This is hilariously wrong, or would be if it didn't represent the thinking of a huge swath of the population when it comes to nuclear power.

On top of bathing in seawater having basically no impact as others have already said, the "WILL cause problems" demonstrates a misunderstanding of how increased probability of risk leads to negative outcomes. Many things increase the rate of potential harms by trivial amounts, others by non-trivial amounts. Smoking packs of cigarettes per day greatly increases the risk of some cancers, but it doesn't mean they "WILL" occur, nor does getting lung cancer mean one was a smoker.

Please stop making the faulty chain of [potentially dangerous thing]->[must be dangerous]->[something bad "WILL" happen]

RE: Nice going.
By nafhan on 7/24/2013 1:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
Uhm... "natural background" levels vary greatly, and can be dangerous (i.e. radon, skin cancer from UV, etc.).

RE: Nice going.
By DennisB on 7/24/2013 1:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
There's an age old solution: Have them (e.g. EPA) set the levels higher; problem solved. No longer alarms and news articles. Wouldn't wonder if reports use differing levels of evaluation...

RE: Nice going.
By flyingpants1 on 7/23/2013 4:37:33 PM , Rating: 4
Don't make me laugh. Almost all of the criminals on Wall Street and in the United States government got nothing whatsoever. 5 years is plenty.

RE: Nice going.
By Labotomizer on 7/23/2013 4:52:39 PM , Rating: 3
Just because that was wrong doesn't make it okay here.

I do find it funny that more people are upset about Zimmerman getting off than paid attention to the lack of Wall Street investigations. Then again, one got lots of play on ET, CNN, TMZ and FOX. The other, not so much.

RE: Nice going.
By Kurz on 7/25/2013 1:28:21 PM , Rating: 3
People care more about race baiting, than when they are actually getting screwed out of their own money.

RE: Nice going.
By ClownPuncher on 7/23/2013 5:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
TBH, any Yakuza or corrupt officials involved with this should kill themselves.

RE: Nice going.
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 8:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
The Yakuza might. But I don't expect that kind of integrity from corporate or government officials.

RE: Nice going.
By Reclaimer77 on 7/23/2013 8:46:15 PM , Rating: 2
You would think a country that had two nuclear bombs dropped on them would like, oh I don't know, exercise a little more planning and forethought when they decided to put a nuclear power station right on the freaking sea in an area known for geological instability...

RE: Nice going.
By Gondor on 7/24/2013 5:43:51 AM , Rating: 2
Entire Japan (all of its islands) is situated in geologically unstable area as tectonic plates meet right alongside its length. They went nuclear so they must have considered the risk acceptable.

RE: Nice going.
By Dorkyman on 7/24/2013 11:00:53 AM , Rating: 3
And the risk WAS and IS acceptable. I am mystified by a public that panics at the word "nuclear" when it is, by far, the safest power source. Safer than wind. Safer than solar.

RE: Nice going.
By gamerk2 on 7/24/2013 11:12:01 AM , Rating: 3
If a Wind Generator breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are standing right underneath it at the time.

If a Nuclear Reactor breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are inside a 100 mile or so radius.

See the issue? Nuclear must be held to a much higher safety standard, because the fallout (no pun indented) of a problem is so much greater.

Nevermind the Wind and Solar power is already cheaper per megawatt hour in some parts of the world.

RE: Nice going.
By mead drinker on 7/24/2013 12:23:47 PM , Rating: 3
FUD. Most nuclear "disasters" are hardly disasters at all. They may have environmental impacts that are quantitatively difficult to ascertain but they are hardly apocalyptic manifestations of a wall of fire coming at you. Fissile material in a reactor is not concentrated enough to be bomb grade.

So let's forget about "if a nuclear reactor breaks." They have, some have had meltdowns, and the worse case single incident has led to 50 some-odd immediate deaths, all of which were workers. So more people unrelated to the production of energy have died as a result of wind turbines than nuclear. It is the safest and most reliable source of energy we have. Since it is beyond your comprehension to understand and trust, I leave you with the following quote and links:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke

RE: Nice going.
By web2dot0 on 7/26/2013 4:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
Then you should have been a victim and see how it feel to die from radiation poisoning. It's "not that bad". Hardly a disaster for your health really. I wonder what you'll look like when al your hair falls off your head, and die a slow death.

goverment documents promote nuclear because that's their initiative.

"Clean Coal"...... right ..... Keep drinking that kool aid.

RE: Nice going.
By Solandri on 7/25/2013 8:31:18 AM , Rating: 3
If a Wind Generator breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are standing right underneath it at the time.

If a Nuclear Reactor breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are inside a 100 mile or so radius.

See the issue? Nuclear must be held to a much higher safety standard, because the fallout (no pun indented) of a problem is so much greater.

This is a false comparison. You're comparing a single wind turbine which generates on average a few hundred kilowatts to a nuclear plant which generated over 4 gigawatts.

If you want to correctly compare their risk, you need to compare the Fukushima Daiichi plant to about 10,000 2MW wind turbines (because wind has a capacity factor of about 0.22). Once you do that and compile figures for 10,000 turbines, you find that the risk of death to maintenance workers and nearby residents is actually higher for wind than for nuclear. And that the land area at risk of a blade or ice throw whenever the turbine is in use actually comes pretty close to the current evacuation area around Fukushima.

Incidentally, the throw distance used by the industry is estimated at:

1.5 * (turbine_height + rotor_diameter)

But the above story I linked to is worrying because the rotor traveled about twice that far. As noted in the story, this puts the freeway within throw distance of the turbines. This is an area that definitely needs more study if wind is to be widely adopted.

RE: Nice going.
By superstition on 7/24/2013 11:15:32 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power is inherently safe because we can inherently rely upon human nature to not be greedy.

Those few bad apples, after all, are hardly similar to the vast majority of people.

RE: Nice going.
By lelias2k on 7/24/2013 5:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
No, they aren't inherently unsafe, but sh*t happens, as it evidently did there.

RE: Nice going.
By web2dot0 on 7/26/2013 4:04:33 PM , Rating: 1
You mean like Chernobyl, "shit happens". I would you to be a victim of the disaster and tell me that it's safe. It's easy to be a keyboard warrior.

Normal disasters is don't have 10000 half life, and long term environmental damage. All it takes is one mistake and it's game over.

If a solar panel explodes, people in 100mile radius aren't gonna immediately die. that's a fact.

Think before you speak.

RE: Nice going.
By Fallen Kell on 7/29/2013 3:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
And Chernobyl is something that could only happen in the Soviet Union (or other places with the same mentality). They wanted to simply claim they had the most nuclear power plants, generating the most power. They built them half-assed and with no consideration at all to risk factors. There was no containment building! Why? Because building a containment building would have admitted at some level that there was a possibility that something could go wrong, and this is Soviet Russia, we are the best, nothing can be wrong with our design, because admitting to that as an engineer was that you were sent to Siberia to do hard labor until you died...

State of Emergency
By freedom4556 on 7/23/2013 3:37:35 PM , Rating: 3
What I don't understand is that if the company is really being uncooperative, then why doesn't the Japanese government seize the property and do proper decontamination. 100 mSv isn't good, but radiation poisoning doesn't start till 400 typically ( That's only for reactor employees though. I wonder what
abnormal levels of dangerously radioactive Caesium-137
means though. That's not really a number. In the old DailyTech article they mention
1501 atoms of radioactive sulfur in sulfate particles per cubic meter of air. They mentioned that this was the highest they had seen in two years of observations and recordings.
Fifteen thousand atoms aren't going to give anybody cancer. Also, why haven't they moved the spent fuel off-site to secure storage yet? It seems to me that they cannot keep them cool at their present location, and are just making a heavy water leaking mess. They should get them into dry storage casks at least.

RE: State of Emergency
By sailor68 on 7/24/2013 3:17:29 AM , Rating: 2
The government doesn't take control because they don't have the capability of managing this issue from a technical depth perspective. Remember that the first response to the crisis was to send in police riot trucks with water cannons to spray water into the shattered reactor buildings, and later to send the Tokyo fire department. The regulator (their equivalent of our NRC) had fled the site long before that point. There was no specialized government capability to handle a crisis of this magnitude in place, and there still is not 2 years on. Second, from a political perspective this is a toxic football. Its easier to prop up the operator and flog them in the press from a distance when things go poorly than taking direct responsibility.

Regarding the removal of spent fuel, extraction is difficult because high radiation levels in the vicinity of the reactor buildings mean that workers cannot operate close in without receiving lethal doses of radiation. They have to create and construct specialized machinery to reach and extract fuel assemblies. Because TEPCO is so cheap, they don't want to pay for dry casks, and plan to move the assemblies to an existing storage pool on site.

RE: State of Emergency
By NAVAIR on 7/24/2013 7:48:54 AM , Rating: 2
The 10 CFR (US Code of Federal Regulations) states that a radiation occupational worker can get a maximum dose of 5 rem a year or in the US Navy, the limit is 250 mrem. One sievert is equal to 100 rem. So the workers received twice the yearly doseage or 40 times the USN allowable limit. The USN`s max per hour doseage for a radiation occupational worker is 2 mrem, if the dose the workers received was over a hour they had greater than 10,000 times the allowable limit.

RE: State of Emergency
By NAVAIR on 7/24/2013 7:52:15 AM , Rating: 2
My source is gray matter. I was a RSO ( radiation safety officer) on USS xxxxxxxxx.

RE: State of Emergency
By half_duplex on 7/24/2013 2:17:01 PM , Rating: 2
I was RSO for an civil engineering firm using Troxler soil density gauges.

I had to take an 8 hour course and swab the Troxler ever so often.

RE: State of Emergency
By NAVAIR on 7/24/2013 6:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
My school focused on commercial xray,gama radiography, physiological effects, health records, Naval Regulations and federal law. It was worth 6 college credits.

RE: State of Emergency
By maugrimtr on 7/24/2013 8:55:14 AM , Rating: 2
Fifteen thousand atoms aren't going to give anybody cancer. Also, why haven't they moved the spent fuel off-site to secure storage yet? It seems to me that they cannot keep them cool at their present location, and are just making a heavy water leaking mess. They should get them into dry storage casks at least.

That's per cubic meter. How long can you hold your breath? Maximum volume of your lungs is around 3 liters (bear with the metric system for a moment). There are 1000 liters in a cubic meter. You breathe perhaps 30 times per minute normally. If you do the math, that means your lungs take in 1,501 atoms of radioactive sulfer over 12 minutes. Let's round it up to 15 mins (you won't breath at maximum capacity all the time!).

That makes 6000 radioactive atoms an hour, 144,000 in a day, 52.5 million in a year.

Each atom represents a chance of gene damage giving rise to a sustainable cancer.

RE: State of Emergency
By BRB29 on 7/25/2013 8:21:21 AM , Rating: 2
Your estimate does not take into account many things.

1. Your don't breathe at 80% normally. You actually breathe at like 20-30%. I know, I did the air volume test for normal breath and full breath.
2. I don't breathe 30 times per minute if I'm not in elevated physical activity. In fact, nobody does unless they have respiratory problems or high blood pressure. The normal breathing rate is usually around 5-20 per min for most people.
3. You breathe back some of the air you breathed out.
4. Radiation risk is not just based on exposure, it is based on exposure and how fast your body can repair the damaged cells. So until radiation pass the level that your body can repair itself, your risk actually does not rise.
5. Radiation is not really atoms...but 52.5 million a year is really not a lot when you're looking at atomic and subatomic particles.

By DaveLessnau on 7/23/2013 7:48:14 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe Godzilla will absorb the radiation and use it for his radioactive flame.

RE: Godzilla
By marvdmartian on 7/24/2013 9:00:37 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, these clowns will get their due rewards, when Godzilla walks out of the sea, and starts trashing Tokyo!!

RE: Godzilla
By Zingam on 7/25/2013 5:52:34 AM , Rating: 2
No, they'll have their real Godzilla finally!

obvious department
By chromal on 7/23/2013 8:37:21 PM , Rating: 5
Obvious to anyone who has been keeping track of developments that there's been contaminated water spilling into the ocean since about a week or two after the tsunami hit.

In other news, snow is cold and the sky is blue.

On the bright side
By overlandpark4me on 7/24/2013 1:48:28 AM , Rating: 2
There will be some pretty cool looking fish down the road.

RE: On the bright side
By drycrust3 on 7/24/2013 4:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you appreciate the problem. Those "cool looking fish" have more mutations in their DNA than is normal. As I understand it, every generation passes some new defects onto the next generation, meaning that eventually the DNA will become so corrupted that animals will did out.
DNA mutations cause things like diabetes and cancers in humans, so while the colours may be a bit different in the fish, that is the least of their problems. Those "cool looking fish" could well have other traits that aren't desirable, like their life expectancy could be much shorter than normal.
The problem that an event like Fukushima creates is that instead of those defects taking, say, thousands of years to appear, they all happen in one big hit.
I'm guessing here, but I'd say that since the mutations in the DNA will be random, then the defects in one organism will be different from those in another, so plants and animals that use sexual reproduction will have a much better chance of recovering than those that don't use sexual reproduction. My guess is that for those plants and animals then with every generation the effect of mutations will be depleted, especially if there is a lot of mixing with outside stock.

By agon on 7/24/2013 8:08:40 AM , Rating: 2
Experience it yourself by requesting a beta key at

By half_duplex on 7/24/2013 2:19:22 PM , Rating: 2
Why would anyone want to experience radioactive sea water online?

By Strunf on 7/23/2013 8:02:36 PM , Rating: 2
What if I told you there are huge amounts of natural occurring radioactive elements in the sea?

And BTW nuclear fission is a natural occurring "thing", so yeah there are natural nuclear reactors.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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